Pain Relief Can Work Against You

Whether you're weight training or doing cardio, after a really strenuous workout it's not unusual to experience some muscle pain the next day. Part of the reason for this pain is the catabolic damage done to muscle tissue that is repaired and built upon during the anabolic processes that follow. But some of this pain is also caused by the generation of oxidative free radicals.

Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like those containing ibuprofen can help relieve pain while reducing fever and inflammation. But researchers from Appalachian State University found that NSAIDs can also interfere with muscle cell repair. They tested subjects participating in a 100-mile endurance run over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Those who took NSAIDs during the run had elevated levels of protein carbonyls (markers for oxidative stress) along with a greater degree of muscle soreness the next day.

The Bigger Picture: While there's nothing wrong with taking NSAIDs for the occasional headache or joint pain, you may not want to make a habit of using them during your workouts. Instead, try replenishing your muscles with a protein/carbohydrate recovery formula immediately after training. Doing so can promote anabolic processes while offering anti-catabolic assistance.
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