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Ibuprofen. Not For Daily Use! by John Post, MD

“I’d take any risk to tie back the hands of time.”

Too Much Time On My Hands, Styx

“Prophylactic” or daily use of Ibuprofen by triathletes is not without risk.

 Why am I the last one to find out about things? Why didn’t I know that in some circles upwards of half of the endurance athletic community takes ibuprofen nearly every day? I did a podcast recently where this was one of the items we discussed as some triathletes, known in marketing circles as early adopters, seek to diminish post exercise muscle soreness with this drug.  A review of the literature will not consistently support the position that exercise induced muscle soreness is indeed reduced with NSAID therapy (nor that it’s desirable.)  Conversely, it’s been determined that these medications may actually hinder the act of muscle regeneration – read this as muscle repair.  And the logic behind NSAID administration so that the athlete can race through a serious injury makes no sense to this physician.
 However, if you have an injury, and feel that an NSAID like ibuprofen or Aleve is appropriate, follow the package directions and have at it as part of your injury care regimen. Otherwise, when taken pre-workout, ibuprofen can have negative influences on one’s gastrointestinal system.  You already know that with exercise comes a shunting of blood from the intestinal tract to the exercising muscles.  The combination of exercise and ibuprofen can lead to a leaking of the cells which line the colon.  A study quoted by the New York Times highlighted the work  of Dr. Kim van Wijik who also noted, “More immediately, if less graphically, the absorption could be compromised, especially after exercise, which could affect the ability of tired muscles to resupply themselves with fuel and regenerate.”

 When used for maximum effectiveness, and minimizing the potential for adverse effects, according to the Alliance for Rational Use of NSAIDs, “…the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time to achieve therapeutic effect.”

 So if you take the time to review this situation, you’ll agree with Dr. van Wijik when you read that it’s clear that, “ibuprofen consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be strongly discouraged.”