Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin, can be very effective at relieving pain and are readily available over-the-counter; most people don’t think twice about taking them. However, using them comes at a cost to your health.
Here are the main reasons to avoid them:
- NSAIDs mess up your gut. When you work out hard, you can cause damage to your GI tract; this happens because the main source of fuel for your GI tract – glutamine – is mainly used up by your muscles to speed the repair process. Research suggests that NSAIDs could aggravate that damage. Short-term, this increases the risk of bleeding in the GI tract, which can have serious complications. Long-term, it can compromise your ability to absorb nutrients, which can lead to long-term digestive issues.
- NSAIDs can decrease performance and increase the risk of injury. NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of chemicals (called prostaglandins); these same chemicals are involved in the creation of collagen, which is essential to stabilize and repair your muscle, ligaments, tendons and bones. This means that using NSAIDs can inhibit your ability to adapt to exercise and increases your risk of injuring yourself further.
- NSAIDS can cause kidney damage. There are mountains of data that show NSAID use is associated with a relatively high incidence of renal damage, especially to those that have kidney issues or that take certain kinds of medications. NSAID use is particularly harmful to the kidneys if you are dehydrated (which often happens during and after workouts/games).
If you need something for pain due to an acute (i.e., new) injury, using NSAIDs for the first few days to reduce pain and inflammation is probably okay. However, if you’re still hurting after that, there’s a bigger issue. Pain is an indicator that something is not right and masking the pain with NSAIDs or other medications does nothing to fix the problem and makes it more likely you’ll cause further injury.
Bottom line: if you can’t handle the pain without medication, back off and get some help to fix the underlying problem.
Brought to you by our friends at Natural Solutions for a Healthy You.