There are plenty of reasons to kick your ibuprofen habit. We’ve warned you before about the unwanted side effects of this common over-the-counter painkiller.
Because you can pick NSAIDs up at any drug store, supermarket or convenience store, many folks believe they’re relatively harmless.
But the truth is these drugs can cause your arteries to constrict and blood clots to form. Plus they can lead to fluid retention and raise blood pressure too.
Ibuprofen can harm your heart
In fact, regularly using NSAID drugs, such as ibuprofen, could cause your heart attack risk to soar by 30 percent.1 And depending on the drug you’re taking, and the dosage, your stroke risk could climb by as much as 28 to 86 percent.2
Research has revealed that people who take NSAIDs have a higher risk of hearing loss.3 And a 2016 study found the drugs may even promote bone breaks in older folks who do resistance exercises.4
And now experts say we have yet one more reason to cut back on our ibuprofen use.
Have you been putting in the effort to exercise, but haven’t been getting the results you expected? If so it turns out that bottle of ibuprofen in your medicine cabinet may be to blame.
Because according to research published in the journal Acta Physiologica, popping the drug to battle soreness can sabotage your workout.5 And it could leave you feeling as weak as a kitten.
Ibuprofen robs you of your workout rewards
Researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute divided a group of healthy young volunteers into two groups. The first group took a daily dose of 1,200 mg ibuprofen. And the second group got a low dose (75 mg) of aspirin to take every day.
Everyone’s muscle mass and strength were measured at the start of the study, and then again at the end of the eight weeks.
And both groups followed a supervised weight training program.
Incredibly, at the end of the study the folks who were taking aspirin had TWICE the muscle growth of the ibuprofen takers. And the aspirin group had gained significantly more strength from their regular workouts than the NSAID group.
In other words, the ibuprofen had robbed them of their workout rewards!
Inflammation helps build muscle
And as strange as it seems, there’s actually a simple explanation why taking ibuprofen to ease workout pain backfires on us.
It works too well.
You likely think of inflammation as a bad thing. And when that inflammation is the result of an autoimmune disease, or leads to something like blood vessel damage, it absolutely is.
But inflammation is also how your body protects you from infections. And in the case of exercise, your body’s inflammatory reaction to stress is necessary for you to get those workout benefits you crave.
A good workout stresses the tissues in your muscles. This triggers inflammation signaling to your body that it needs to repair and fortify those stressed tissues. The result is increased strength and muscle mass.
But ibuprofen short-circuits that process by removing the inflammation.
In other words, there’s a bit of truth to that old saying “no pain, no gain.” Because while acute pain during or after a workout is never a good thing. Some mild muscle soreness and inflammation after exercise are signs you’re on the right track.
If you find you’re too uncomfortable to get on with your day after workout, but you don’t want to take risky ibuprofen, one of these five pain-erasing foods could help.
1. “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use is associated with increased risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a nationwide case–time–control study,” European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, Volume 3, Issue 2, 1 April 2017, Pages 100–107
2. “NSAID Use Associated With Future Stroke in Healthy Population.” Presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2010 Congress, Dr Gunnar Gislason (Gentofte University Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark)
3. “Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women ,” American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 185, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 40–47
4. “Effects of low-dose ibuprofen supplementation and resistance training on bone and muscle in postmenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial,” Bone Rep. 2016 Dec; 5: 96–103
5. “High-doses of anti-inflammatory drugs compromise muscle strength and hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training in young adults,” Acta Physiol. Accepted Author Manuscript, 21 August 2017