Attention Athletes: Stop Taking Ibuprofen!


The rigors of intense exercise often take their toll. Many take ibuprofen for pain relief, expecting at least a sliver of help. According to a recent article in the LA Times, however, this may not only be untrue, but ibuprofen may me doing more harm than good.

Scientist conducted a study on runners competing in the Western State Endurance Run. It’s a 26 hour, 100 mile race through the Sierra Nevada mountains. 70% of the runners said they took ibuprofen to get through the pain of the race. Scientists wanted to know if this self-medicating actually helped.

25 athletes acted as a control and didn’t take any ibuprofen starting the day before the race then up through a week after. The other 25 took 600mg the day before and 1200mg on race day.

Those who took the ibuprofen showed signed of kidney impairment and endotoxemia (bacterial toxins from the large intense enter the bloodstream). What’s worse is that the ibuprofen didn’t even help with performance or recovery. Both those who took the ibuprofen and the control reported the same amount of pain, their times were the same, and their muscles were equally sore. Those taking the ibuprofen had 50% more inflammation in their bodies.

It’s unfortunate they didn’t give one group a placebo pill. Beyond the internal effects of the ibuprofen, I bet there is a mental effect to those who take it. Of course, the fact that it’s actually dangerous to take, runners and other athletes who frequently use ibuprofen should significantly reduce their intake, if not stop completely. It’s shocking that ibuprofen actually resulted in an increase in inflammation. What, exactly, is it good for then? The ideology to find the source the pain and fix that instead of masking it with pills seems appropriate here. Knowing the ill-effects of ibuprofen, I don’t know why anyone would take it again. I sure won’t.

Read more at the LA Times.