Can I Take Ibuprofen After Working Out?

It’s normal to feel sore after a long training or workout. Every muscle becomes painful and the most logical action is to turn to painkillers like Ibuprofen and naproxen. The drugs reduce inflammation, which is why they effectively treat muscle pain. Nothing wrong with that right? Wrong! New evidence now shows that you might be putting your health in jeopardy each time you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The shocking revelation that over 75% of athletes take these painkillers means that the issue needs to be addressed immediately to prevent serious health consequences. Some even take ibuprofen before workouts so that they can work out more intensely. So what are the risks of painkillers for athletes? Read on to find out.

Taking Ibuprofen After Workouts

Every person has a goal when they start working out. This could be simply to keep fit, be muscular, or strong. The harder you train the more your muscles will hurt. If you thought taking painkillers was harmless, think again.

New studies now reveal that taking drugs after exercise may dampen muscle growth, hence making the workout less effective. According to the study, researchers investigated an injured muscle in mice. Without the drugs, the mice would generate prostaglandins, compounds that are known to stimulate healing, that is, muscle stem cells and regeneration. But, when NSAIDs were introduced into the mice system, the production of prostaglandins was significantly reduced and the muscles took longer than necessary to heal.

Although this one study was solely based on mice, the results were not as convincing. However, other studies revealed that ibuprofen and other drugs inhibited skeletal muscle growth that normally occurs after working out. Study in humans shows that ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) inhibit protein formation that’s triggered in muscles after a high-intensity workout. More evidence suggests that NSAIDs suppress the process of bone healing.

If you take ibuprofen regularly to treat muscle soreness, it may end up damaging cellular tissue and negate the effects of your training.

Taking Ibuprofen Before Workouts

It might seem harmless to take ibuprofen before working out to help make you more resilient. On the contrary, NSAIDs have been shown to damage the gastrointestinal tract lining which could lead to ulcers and bleeding if used regularly. Trainers and health experts warn against strenuous exercise. And if combined with painkillers, the damages could be amplified. One study conducted in 2006 studied the blood of ultramarathoners who took ibuprofen before a race. It was discovered that they had higher levels of intestinal permeability and inflammation compared to those who didn’t use the drug.

Side Effects

Apart from intestinal leakage, several studies have shown that taking ibuprofen before or after an exercise can lead to colonic seepage. The studies performed several years ago, found that athletes who took ibuprofen frequently had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstreams. Researchers have discovered that people who take ibuprofen before or after a workout ended up with more bodily inflammation than those who didn’t. Add to this the fact that NSAIDs hamper the ability of muscles to rebuild and the implications become worrisome. These are just some of the short-term consequences. Doctors are yet to document the long-term effects of regular use of ibuprofen. But preliminary reports indicate that ibuprofen use by athletes may cause more harm than good. It’s, therefore, advisable that you avoid such drugs.

Alternative Solutions

Pain accompanies a killer workout. Usually, muscle pain signifies muscle growth and regeneration. However, instead of taking drugs to kill the pain, a massage or icing the muscle should work just fine. Ice baths or ice packs have always been used to reduce inflammation. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the repercussions of drugs. This is not to say that you can’t use painkillers in their entirety. Sometimes, the pain may become too severe that you just have to take ibuprofen or any other NSAIDs. So long as it’s not a regular thing, it should help you heal. But, if you plan on working out regularly, then you should expect muscle soreness to be part of the regimen. The best thing is to toughen it out and the muscles should eventually heal.


Just because these drugs are available over the counter shouldn’t mean that you can simply take them whenever you feel muscle pain. It all depends on the type of injury that you have. It’s advisable to only take the drugs if your doctor recommends them. Knowing that pain means muscle growth should keep you going.

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