Ep. 14 – Dedication to Education

In this weeks episode, we’re asking the question; Does taking anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin blunt your gains.
The use of NSAIDs is pretty high in contact sports such as rugby; had a bang and it hurts like f#ck? Take this to make it feel better… Which is 100% absolutely fine and correct. However, if these niggles still appear in the gym long after the initial knock and you still continue to use high dose NSAIDs to alleviate the pain, is this actually detrimental to your adaptation?
Now, the idea of lifting weights is to ADAPT, so we want to do stuff that promotes this, not blunt it. In a 2017 study by Lilja et al, they looked at the effect of two daily consumption of either a high dose ibuprofen (1200mg) or a low dose Aspirin (75mg) on the adaptive response from training. After 8 weeks of lifting, the maximum over-the-counter dose of Ibuprofen blunted gains in the gym. Imagine this, you’re training super hard for 8 weeks and din’t really notice any gains, because you were popping high dose anti-inflammatory drug. Mega!
In addition to this, the low dose aspirin users pretty much doubled the gains of the Ibuprofen group. So, if you still have some pains going into the gym and you have to train, perhaps this would be a better option? I’ll let the phyios make the call on that one. That being said, some people in the high dose group gained more muscle than the low dose group. I.e. the individual responses were quite varied. However, there’s definitely a strong trend for the high dose group be worse off.
The rationale behind this is surrounding inflammation. There’s some evidence to suggest that the proinflammatory cytokine (favours inflammation) IL-6, a signalling molecule for muscle growth becomes blunted with high dose Ibuprofen and not when taking a low aspirin. So, inflammation is good…some of the time. If you have a knock and the pain is high enough to warrant the use of high dose ibuprofen, should you actually be training? Speak to your physio champ.

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