Inflammation is actually an important step in the healing process, we can begin to appreciate how taking anti-inflammatory medications after hard workouts may inhibit training adaptations.

When you run, you actually create small micro-tears in the muscles with every step you take. The faster or harder you run, the more forcefully you contract the muscles and the more damage you incur. These micro-tears stimulate an inflammatory response, signaling the body to deliver resources such as blood, oxygen, and nutrients to begin the healing process. By taking anti-inflammatory drugs, you prevent the inflammation process from initiating the healing process.

Recently, numerous studies have confirmed this new theory on the harmful effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. One study on the effects of Ibuprofen on skeletal muscle showed that taking ibuprofen during endurance training canceled running-distance-dependent adaptations in skeletal muscle. Another study confirmed in the laboratory that the use of NSAIDs after exercise slowed the healing of muscles, tissues, ligaments, and bones.

The research is clear. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and ibuprofen after a workout will result in slower recovery times.

written by Jeff Gaudette, marathon runner, and coach, at