This is copied from a brighton marathon newsletter.
IBUPROFEN IS NOT YOUR FRIEND
Read this helpful article that looks at the dangers of taking Ibuprofen when long distance running, courtesy of Dawn Buoy of Body Rehab Studios, official physiotherapist for the Brighton Marathon Weekend.
As the miles stack up runners may well be tempted to reach for the anti-inflammatories to get them through. Most commonly Ibuprofen or Nurofen are used as the magic protection against injuries, or to ease the soreness of those tired legs.
We have provided medical support for the Brighton Marathon Weekend since it first started and my understanding of the negative effects of these drugs on long distance athletes has grown over this time.
Personally, my husband was a long term user of Ibuprofen after years of rugby. Taking it in the changing room before the game and afterwards to prevent the soreness (and help with the hangover). He developed significant gastro-intestinal problems and after cutting out various food groups and even booze for a while we realised it was the Ibuprofen that was the issue.
Detailed research has been done specifically into the effects on long distance runners. In Germany in 2010 researchers surveyed 4,000 runners who participated in the Bonn Marathon and Half-Marathon.
Overall 54 percent of those participants opted to use drugs like ibuprofen. Interestingly those who did take these kind of drugs were just as likely to drop out of the race as those that didn’t, they provided no magic cure or protection.
However, any small benefits from the painkillers are overshadowed by potentially serious side effects.
Dangerous Side Effects Critically the researchers found that the runners who used anti-inflammatories were four times more likely to have symptoms such as:
Symptoms increased as runners took larger doses of painkillers. Nine runners who used painkillers ended up in hospital for temporary kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding or a heart attack (compared to none of the runners who skipped the pain medications).
The danger lies in the negative impact the anti-inflammatories cause within your system once you are nutritionally depleted and poorly hydrated. These secondary effects are significantly more alarming than the possible pain relief they might provide.
So on race day please follow the medical advice from Medical Director Dr Rob Galloway, and do not take anti-inflammatory tablets.
AlternativesLeading up to race day on your long runs the same advice applies.
So what are the alternatives?
Use ice baths to help ease sore legs once you have finished your run. Have active recovery sessions on your rest days instead of doing nothing at all. You can try a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, ginger, flax seeds and oily fish.
Or if you are taking tablets for a specific injury get that looked at properly by a physio. There may be another way to protect it whilst you are running; taping the area or perhaps a strengthening and stretching programme.
Ibuprofen may seem pretty harmless as we are accustomed to it in our daily lives, but remember the body is in a vastly different state when we are pushing ourselves through those long miles. Find another way to keep those legs happy without risking your health in other ways.
Good luck with those long runs and stay healthy out there!
You can follow Dawn's blog here: https://bodyrehabstudios.wordpress.com
By Brian Powlett
I'm an Ipswich JAFFA RC member who has been tapering since 2011. I race for fun, but rarely train. I'll pause to take a great selfie before I get that PB. Life's too short to run fast!