Recent studies suggest that over the counter painkillers like Ibuprofen have the exact opposite effect that many professional and amatuer endurance athletes believe they have.
The recent medical news is pretty shocking and straightforward in its findings when it comes to endurance sports and painkillers.
According to the New York Times:
"Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories.
The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream."
But it gets worse:
"Athletes at all levels and in a wide variety of sports swear by their painkillers. A study published earlier this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that, at the 2008 Ironman Triathlon in Brazil, almost 60 percent of the racers reported using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (or NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen) at some point in the three months before the event, with almost half downing pills during the race itself."
But wait- the news gets even worse for athletes who pop a lot of painkillers when training:
"The painkillers also blunt the body’s response to exercise at a deeper level. Normally, the stresses of exercise activate a particular molecular pathway that increases collagen, and leads, eventually, to creating denser bones and stronger tissues. If “you’re taking ibuprofen before every workout, you lessen this training response,” Warden says. Your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen as they should. They may be less able to withstand the next workout. In essence, the pills athletes take to reduce the chances that they’ll feel sore may increase the odds that they’ll wind up injured — and sore."