Please lay off the NSAIDs

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original Blogs.


For as long as I can remember, taking some form of NSAID was a popular thing with runners. An ibuprofen late in a marathon to dull the pain or as an anti-inflammatory after a run was pretty much a given. I even admit that, before I knew better, I’d at least occasionally take some ibuprofen, thinking the anti-inflammatory affects might help me recover from races faster.

Some time during my college years, I read an article about anti-inflammatories and how harmful they can be to the kidneys. This article featured a runner who died from kidney failure and, as I recall, included the words of at least a couple medical professionals who explained how harmful ibuprofen and, really, all NSAIDs can be to the kidneys. I went off ibuprofen cold turkey after reading that article.

Over the years, as the evidence grew, I became more vocal in my quest to convince runners that the risks far outweigh the benefits. Sure, an occasional ibuprofen might not be harmful to the kidneys but, if you habitually consume them the way some runners unfortunately do, you could be causing serious harm.

And now, we have reason to believe you may also be harming your running performances.

Actually, this isn’t all new. In recent years, we’ve seen that many "recovery aids" that reduce inflammation actually affect the training response we’re all looking for, the response that builds us up stronger after we break ourselves down with workouts. In short, they sabotage our training. NSAIDs have been a part of this discussion.

But this is just more in what is a growing body of evidence for two different reasons that runners should avoid habitual use of NSAIDs. First, the harm they could be causing to your kidneys. Second, the possibility that they are actually harming your body’s response to training.

Photo credit: Advil by Mike Mozart, on Flickr

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