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Should You Skip the Ibuprofen Before or During Your Run?

Posted Sep 08 2009 10:05pm

Who wants to hurt?

Especially while you're out on a favorite run.

So, maybe you've heard somewhere or read somewhere that taking Ibuprofen before you run or even during a longer run helps shoo the pain away. If your knees or hips ir back normally hurt when you run, a little Ibuprofen can be like magic. How bad can that be for you? After all, you can buy it in any grocery store or drug store.

As it turns out, pretty bad actually.

Researchers examined the blood of runners who took Ibuprofen before and during a long, endurance race and compared the findings to runners who did not take the drug. They discovered some disturbing things:

  1. Biologic markers of inflammation and increased immune system response were higher in the drug group than in runners who had not taken the drug.
  2. Signs of mild kidney impairment in the drug group.
  3. Low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream, was found in the runners who took Ibuprofen.
  4. Runners had no more or less pain than the group who did not take the drug.

In addition, Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Aleve or Motrin, can interfere with the bodies natural healing response. Injuries to tendons, bones, cartilage, and ligaments can take longer to heal and heal less completely with chronic use of NSAIDs.

There's a time and place for NSAIDs though. For acute injuries, pain relief, and short term use, NSAIDs can be helpful and relatively safe (some people still have gastrointestinal side effects). When you're using the drug to allow you to do something like go for a run is where you run into trouble.

Nieman, D. C., D. A. Henson, et al. (2006). "Ibuprofen use, endotoxemia, inflammation, and plasma cytokines during ultramarathon competition." Brain Behav Immun 20(6): 578-84.

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