NSAIDS

Over the years I have had the occasional person ask my opinion on ibuprofen as a recovery aid. My take is - don't take it.

Many athletes take ibuprofen routinely, even to the point of ritual. Taking NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drug), such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, messes with your body's ability to heal tendon, ligament, muscle, and soft tissues. Here is the jist of it: NSAIDs work by inhibiting a chemical compound called prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are in most of your organs and tissues and activate pain, inflammation and fever. They also are involved in the creation of collagen, which is an essential building block for most of your body's tissues. So following the process, taking NSAIDs means fewer prostaglandins which then mean less collagen and a diminished ability to heal tissue and ligaments.

There is another drawback to these drugs. Normally, exercise increases collagen, leading over time to the creation of denser bones and stronger tissues. That sore feeling you are trying so hard to avoid is the the inflammatory response of your muscle breakdown required to make you faster and stronger. Taking anti-inflammatories limits that process, counteracting your hard work and over time potentially leaving you more prone to injury.

The bottom line is tissue has a set recovery time. If you try to cheat it, the tissue won't recover properly. In a modern world where people spend a significant amount of time and effort managing their health and fretting over sports nutrition, there is no excuse for being so casual about taking medication. There is a time and place for NSAIDs. Taking it as part of your training regiment is neither.

So what do you do for recovery? Ice, foam roll, stretch, hydrate, take fish oil, and body work. If you absolutely need to handle pain, try Tylenol instead... and of course, consult your doctor to find the right medication for specific issues or injuries.