Popping a painkiller such as ibuprofen to ward off exercise pain or anticipated pain is a common practice among athletes of many ability levels.
Some think it will also improve performance as it reduces pain.
But the practice may be hazardous, according to new research that focused on the use of the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen before and after workouts.
"We conclude that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be discouraged," writes Kim van Wijck, MD, a surgical resident at ORBIS Medical Center, Maastricht, the Netherlands.
She found ibuprofen aggravated exercise-induced injury in the small intestine in healthy, trained men who were used to endurance workouts. "We used only two oral doses of ibuprofen, in the evening and in the morning before the exercise, and did see small intestinal cellular damage," she says.
"This damage was fully reversible approximately one hour after cessation of the exercise bout," van Wijck says.
She worries, however, about long-term use and its effects.
The study is published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
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SOURCE: WebMD Health News