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NSAID Drug - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

If you’ve spent enough time in the gym lifting weights with great intensity, then you’re probably familiar with the muscle soreness that comes along with the territory.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, are commonly used to alleviate the stiffness and pain associated with muscle soreness so you can maintain your intensity level and workout schedule. However, while short-term NSAID use reduces muscle pain and stiffness, chronic use of NSAIDs to treat exercise-induced muscle soreness may impair the adaptive response to training, as evidence indicates that NSAID consumption impedes numerous processes involved in muscle growth and strength.1,2

DECREASED MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS

Muscle growth from heavy resistance training greatly depends on the rate of protein synthesis within the muscle cell. Since inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme (COX-2) with NSAIDs reduces the production of prostaglandins that have been shown to regulate muscle protein synthesis3, a study by Trappe et al.4 investigated whether the well-known NSAID ibuprofen could also reduce the production of prostaglandins and more importantly, muscle protein synthesis after high-intensity resistance exercise. In this study, 24 healthy males consumed 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen per day while performing 10 to 14 sets of leg extensions that involved eccentric repetitions at 120 percent of their one-repetition maximum. The results show that the normal increase in muscle protein synthesis that occurs within 24 hours after eccentric resistance training was decreased a great deal by ibuprofen consumption when compared to the placebo group. Moreover, ibuprofen consumption also caused a 77 percent decrease in the production of the prostaglandin PGF2-alpha. Taken together, these results demonstrate that NSAID consumption attenuates the post-exercise increase in muscle protein synthesis by blocking the COX2 production of PGF2-alpha, likely precluding muscle growth.

REDUCED MUSCLE GROWTH AND STRENGTH

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