How many times have we put ourselves, or even worse- has our coach, through a tough workout that left our poor muscles just shredded? If you’re like I used to be, then you may have been reaching for a couple of the over-the-counter anti inflammatory capsules. Was that the best thing for us?
Researchers from Norway, New Zealand, and Australia teamed up to look at blood markers of inflammation and muscle damage post exercise. They also looked at the effects of white blood cell infiltration after taking traditional oral ibuprofen. In the following 24 hours after exercise there was no effect on any of these measures, including the subjects own perception of soreness.
The take-away: We’ve talked before about the body needing to be put under stress in order to adapt to that stress. It appears that ibuprofen may not do much in terms of the acute damage, but you also want to avoid just taking even over the counter pills. Save the medications for when you really need them.
What you can do instead: While taking a couple pills is easy, there’s still some pretty simple things you can do to encourage proper recovery without wasting an opportunity to promote precious fitness adaptations.
- Refuel: Have snacks prepared for post workouts. Carbohydrate will replenish depleted stores and protein will halt current muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth and repair over the long term.
- Rehydrate: Begin rehydrating almost immediately and continue drinking regularly throughout the day. This can be water with electrolytes, or even small amounts of sports drinks for right after your workout. I don’t recommend sports drinks all day, but right after a workout is a perfect time.
- Rest: This one is tough for most people. If you can’t sneak a nap in, wear compression garments for a few hours post workout. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, though.