The Dangers of NSAIDs and ExerciseTaking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, better known as NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, for exercise performance can have unintended and alarming consequences.

While some people assume it is beneficial to take NSAIDs as a preventative measure for pain during exercise, evidence has supported this is not a wise choice.

 

6 Reasons to Avoid NSAIDs Before Exercise

The dangers of NSAIDs before physical exercise include:

#1) Cardiovascular Risk:

According to the Public Library of Science, the routine use of NSAIDs heightens the risk of heart attacks significantly. The FDA in 2015 has even strengthened their original 2005 heart attack warning of NSAIDs due to the clear connection between the two.  

#2) Gastrointestinal Effects:

Long-term use of NSAIDs, regardless of dose, has shown consequential effects on the integrity of the gut. The GI tract is full of beneficial bacteria. However, if the permeability of the gut is altered, allowing the bacteria to enter the blood stream, the result is system inflammation. This syndrome is called “leaky gut.” Because NSAIDs aid in stopping the production of prostaglandins (compounds responsible for protecting the intestinal lining), they are a direct contributor to leaky gut syndrome. Studies have found that this inflammation response within the digestive system, and eventually throughout the whole body, is often found specifically as a result of NSAIDs use prior to exercise.  

#3) Renal Effects:

NSAIDs hinder the kidneys’ ability to absorb both water and salt. This, in turn, can lead to very fast dehydration. While this is a danger for anyone, it is even more important to note when partaking in physical exercise, which already accelerates fluid excretion. According to a study administered by Dr. Lipman at the Stanford University of Medicine, runners who have taken ibuprofen were approximately 18% more likely to develop a kidney injury than those who did not. Additionally, of the runners who experienced injury while running, those who had taken NSAIDs experienced more severe complications.

#4) Skeletal Effects:

Studies have been connecting NSAIDs and decreased bone density of those with regular exercise routines. It has been proven that NSAIDs inhibit bone formation following any mechanical loading and significant change in bone mineral density.

#5) Exercise Recovery: 

Contrary to popular belief, NSAIDs have been found to decrease the efficacy in exercise recovery. They alter the muscle adaptations that naturally occur during and after exercise, and in turn, decrease the effectiveness of training and post-training recovery.

#6) Inflammation!

While NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs, they can actually CAUSE inflammation! A study conducted on endurance runners showed that runners who took NSAIDs before a race did not experience less muscle soreness, but instead their blood work indicated a higher level of systemic inflammation within their bodies. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing method and if it is does not have the proper time to heal or is interrupted by the use of NSAIDs, the healing response is limited and injury, inflammation, and other complications are likely to occur.

 

In Conclusion:

Overall, NSAIDs have a significant effect on many of the functions within the body. The risks involved with these drugs are not worth it when there are other options, such as topical pain relief creams. Products like these are a safe alternative and provide the benefit of pain relief without interrupting your exercise routine AND do not put you in risk of the harmful side effects of NSAIDs.

 

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