If you “cured” your last bout of squats-induced DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) with a couple of ibuprofen tablets, you might have just undone all that hard, sweaty work at the squat rack.
A recent Swedish study has found that ibuprofen (which commonly goes under brand names like Nurofen, Advil and Herron Blue in Australia) interferes with the healing processes in muscles and limits post-workout growth.
The study from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm divided a cohort of 18 to 35-year-olds into two groups. Over an eight-week period, one group was given a high dose of ibuprofen while the other was given a lower dose of aspirin. Throughout the period, both groups completed weights programs focussing on leg strength.
At the end of the eight weeks, muscle growth in the low-dose aspirin group was roughly double that of the high-dose ibuprofen group. The aspirin group also showed greater strength gains.
According to study author Dr Tommy Lundberg, the results suggest “young people who do weight training to increase their muscle mass should avoid regular high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs.”
Lundberg also stressed that the muscle-inhibiting effects aren’t limited to ibuprofen and are likely to be found in any anti-inflammatory drugs: “We chose to look at the effect of ibuprofen as it is the most well-studied anti-inflammatory drug on the market. But we believe that high doses of all types of over-the-counter NSAIDs have similar effects.”
Your move? Stick with aspirin if your DOMS is really crippling.
Better yet, just grin and bear it.