Should I Take Advil After a Workout?

Do you enjoy a dose of “Vitamin I” (Ibuprofen) after a hard WOD? You may want to reconsider using Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs to alleviate pain from exercise.

Ibuprofen is part of a class of drugs known as ‘Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drugs’ (NSAID) and recent (as well as past research) has shown some serious side effects associated with regular use of these drugs.

Other NSAIDs include: ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve and Naprosyn). NSAIDs act in the body to block the chemical messengers involved in the inflammatory response which in turn reduces pain and swelling.

No pain, sweet! However, while inhibiting the inflammatory response, NSAIDs also disrupt the healing process. Studies have shown NSAIDs to slow the rebuilding of muscle cells as well as disrupt healing of muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage (Almekiders 1999, 2003). Another study showed a vast reduction in the bone and muscle strength after 4 and 6 weeks when animals were treated with ibuprofen (Kulick 1986).

How can I relieve pain/swelling/inflammation after intense WOD?

Active recovery is my favorite way to get the soreness out, reduce swelling and recover. Mobilizing immediately after a workout is important, but even more critical is how you spend the rest of your day. If you are sitting at a desk, you are not producing adequate muscle contractions to push ‘pooled’ venous blood and lymphatic fluid along. By getting up every 45 min to an hour and doing a few squats, walking around the building, jumping rope or even doing a set of burpees can make a huge difference. Foam rolling is another excellent method to help improve venous/lymphatic return. A quick internet search and you can find one for under $12.

Conclusion: Don’t do drugs! If you are sore, start moving, rolling, squatting, do yoga, walk around the block, ride your bike, etc… Keep the intensity low and recover actively.

— Coach Dan, Georgetown University, B.S. Human Science, NSCA CSCS, CF-L1