Using Ibuprofen to Reduce Recovery Time

posted in: First Aid | 5

While I am not stranger to regulary popping pills thanks to a lifetime of allergy and sinus problems, I try to limit my intake of pharmaceuticals to below Hollywood starlet levels. I kept on reading about the benefits of taking Ibuprofen to help reduce recovery time after a hard workout, long hike, or other strenous activity, so I figured I’d give the little orange pills a shot to see how well they actually did.

I haven’t hit the electric wheelchair at WalMart levels quite yet at 5’11” and 185 lbs, but I could definitely stand to lose a few pounds, or at least convert some fat into muscle. I recently started exercising several times a week again, after a few months of being slack about my fitness level. After doing a circuit type workout of squats, lunges, pushups, bicycle crunches, etc., I would be left sore for a few days, making further workouts in the days ahead less enjoyable and less productive when my body should have recovered by that point. I did warm ups, cool downs, and did not push myself to extreme levels of pain, so I knew I was just out of shape and my body was telling me as much.

ibuprofenI started taking two Ibuprofen immediately after a workout. The same went for a strenous hike, spending a day chopping wood, or any other heavy sustained physical activity that could possibly leave me sore. I was amazed at how little sorness I felt in the days after each activity. Just to make sure the lack of pain wasn’t because I was suddenly channeling Lance Armstrong’s fitness level, I tried stopping the Ibuprofen regimen. Sure enough, I was back to being gimpy after a workout. Starting back on the Ibuprofen meant going right back to short recovery times.

Give Ibuprofen a shot. The pills are dirt cheap, with a bottle of 500 being under $10 at Costco. If you can actually sustain a long workout (I can’t quite yet), I have read that taking a pill or two before the workout as well will also help reduce inflammation and recovery time. As with any medical advice you read on the Internet, you should probably also consult your doctor before following the advice of some weirdo (me).

5 Responses

  1. Ibuprofen was my secret to getting around Katahdin a couple years ago. Mount Washington the year earlier just about killed me and it made sense to try it.

    I don’t take too many because it can cause liver (or kidney?) damage in excess amounts. I also think it makes sleeping on the ground on a cheap mattress pad go easier.

    • I was thinking the same thing about taking it in excess, but I take at most two every couple of days and always eat a small protein snack at the same time. I am hoping that “in excess” means 20 per day, not 2 every couple of days.

  2. Ibruprofen is not the answer to better performance!

    Ibruprofen is an NSAID and having recently started a workout routine, I too was looking for ways to alleviate the soreness. If you are looking to improve your fitness, please read the above link.

    Ibruprofen DOES NOT shorten muscle growth time. It only is an anti-inflammatory. It actually delays muscle growth at the cellular level because inflammation is necessary to actually HEAL the muscles! The difference between pain relief and healing can be hard to tell, but it might become more clear with increased recovery time and a better diet. I would suggest reading up on rest times and proper nutrition. They are just as important as the workout itself.

    • I was not necessarily looking to increase performance. I was just looking to be able to walk the day after a workout. I agree that for serious athletes or high endurance sports, ibuprofen is probably not appropriate, but for every study that says that NSAIDs are not effective when taken after a workout, there is another saying that they are.

      I think the topic definitely warrants further research. Maybe they are just a placebo for me, but I have noticed a difference when taking them. Either way, I recommend talking to a doctor before taking any advice.

  3. I never took any drugs until last year. Turning 50 and sore muscles appear to go together. I started taking “Vitamin I” after hiking and it helps a great deal.

    My wife now tells me Pineapple is a great natural anti-inflammatory the is not so hard on the liver, but I have yet to try it.

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