Many runners rely on Ibuprofen to treat muscle soreness and tendonitis. There is no doubt that anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can be a huge help to runners with injuries, but they must be taken correctly and in moderation. Developing a dependence on these medications an do much more harm than good.
Inflammation occurs when the body detects an injury of infection and releases white blood cells and increases blood flow to help the damaged area. Although inflammation is an important part of the body’s healing process, the resulting swelling from inflammation can cause pain in the surrounding area. As a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Ibuprofen blocks a certain enzyme (known as the COX enzyme), which causes inflammation in the body. While Ibuprofen can have tremendous benefits, it can also cause horrible problems.
Preventing inflammation through the use of NSAIDS can have side effects, especially if the NSAIDs are overused. The blocking of the COX enzyme can lead to problems with stomach ulcers and serious kidney complications. That is why it is so important to follow the recommended dosages on the bottle, and not take NSAIDS over an extended period of time. Additionally, do not take ibuprofen before workouts and races; if you need to take these medications before hard runs, you should probably focus on curing your underlying injury.
It is important to note that there is a difference between NSAIDs and analgesics like acetaminophen (tylenol). Analgesics help to block pain, but will not help in reducing inflammation. Although NSAIDS do not have the same side-effects as NSAIDS, there are other separate side effects from overuse, including liver damage.
While taking analgesics or NSAIDs to reduce pain can be a great help to an ailing runner, it is a huge mistake to use them as a mask for a long-term injury. They can be a great way to combat short-term acute injuries, but should not be used for long-term chronic conditions.
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