Monday, January 14, 2008

Vitamin I: friend or foe?

I found a couple of good articles about use of Ibuprofen during endurance events. If you know already you'd better refrain from taking it to stay out of trouble, you can skip the rest of this post :)

Can I take Ibuprofen while I’m running?

1) If you have pain so significant that you can’t run without pain relievers, then you have a problem that needs to be treated by a physician and 2) talk to your doctor before taking any pain medications.

To answer the question directly, no you should NOT take Ibuprofen or other NSAID pain relievers while running. There are two reasons for this: one has to do with stomach problems and the other has to do with the kidneys.

Stomach issues can be serious, ranging from stomach upset to bleeding. You should always take pain relievers with food. During a long run or a race, the combined lack of food that you’ll likely be eating and the stress on your gastrointenstinal tract will make these problems even more serious.

In terms of kidney problems, NSAID drugs are processed out of the system by your kidneys. Your kidneys are already working overtime during a long run or race and when you are dehydrated they are under even more stress. Adding these drugs to the load on your kidneys can cause kidney damage.

Based on what we know from research, the use of Ibuprofen can impair health and performance if taken in larger doses and if in combination with dehydration due to altered renal function. Endurance training and competition is highly dependent on your body’s ability to move fluids through the kidneys. The restriction of this fluid movement can cause numerous adverse effects including dehydration, hyponatremia and kidney failure. All of which do not bode well for a PR. For races and hard training sessions, the risks seem to outweigh the questionable benefits.

Therefore, the use of NSAIDs should be reserved for post-exercise and taken in moderation. A proper warm-up and good fueling practices may do more for you to prevent muscle soreness and inflammation than popping a few Ibuprofen.


*) "NSAID" stands for "Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs"

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

so what about tylenol? everyone takes them during ultras.

i have to look into that.