Is it good to join anti-inflammatories and exercise?

Often, many athletes, both high-level and amateurs, use AINES (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) very often to reduce the pain produced by training and competition. Even these measures are well regarded and are recommended by many coaches.

Our collaborator Reebok Performance tells us on this occasion the advantages and disadvantages of taking anti-inflammatories in the practice of sports

For example in a study carried out in the Ironman of Brazil 2008, it was possible to verify through a survey that a 60% of participants used it frequently and almost an 50% of them would take it before or during the test.

The most common purpose of use is inhibit pain, although their actions are usually anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic. But Not everything is as good as it seems ...

This type of medication blocks the synthesis of prostaglandins. Although it may seem like a good idea, since they are the ones that cause inflation and pain, they have many other functions, such as, for example,increase blood pressure (vasodilation) or protect the lining of the stomach, and in this case blocking them can cause problems.         


  1. Detrimental effect on the recovery of muscle and connective tissue. The muscle damage induced by exercise is a factor that mediates the physiological adaptations of the same. However, they participate exogenously in this muscle damage and their response inhibits adaptations to exercise and muscle regeneration. That is, frequent use blocks the improvements that should occur at the muscular level and by preventing these adaptations we cancel the basic object of training, which is supercompensation.
  2. Increase in gastric permeability and gastrointestinal problems. With a study performed with athletes it was possible to check almost double the damage in intestinal cells when ingesting ibuprofen 400mg compared with those who did not perform any type of activity due to an increase in gastric permeability. This problem in addition to increasing the possibility of entry of toxins, harmful bacteria and digestive enzymes into the bloodstream would hinder the absorption of nutrients, something very important in a long-term test.
  3. Increased risk of dehydration and hyponatremia. Some studies have shown that the use of NSAIDs in ultradistance tests is associated with an increased risk of hyponatremia due to altered renal function. The kidneys are responsible for the elimination of fluids and sodium in the body, an excessive loss in exercise can cause very serious problems during a competition.

Hydration in Competition

There are several types, but we will analyze the most used:

  • IBUPROPHENE: Surely it is the most known and used NSAID. Everything mentioned above regarding complications can occur with this medicine.
  • ASPIRIN: It is absorbed very quickly although it depends on the pH of the stomach and the presence of food. Although it also inhibits the synthesis of postglandins and has gastrointestinal and renal side effects, it can have a positive effect on the blood coagulation process by diluting the blood and preventing the creation of thrombi.
  • PARACETAMOL: The anti-inflammatory effect is almost zero since it has another type of operation.


As we have seen, there are more risks than benefits, being almost exclusively the slight displacement of the pain threshold due to its analgesic effect. But if you had to choose any of them, it seems that at the moment the one with the most scientific support is paracetamol.

As we have discussed, its functionality is slightly different and has fewer risks (although they are not completely eliminated). It could be an occasional help for some competition, especially if it is done in a hot environment (+ 30 degrees) due to its antipyretic effect (study). But never continuously.

There is also research into this medication on increasing the ability to perform repeated sprints (study)

The dose should not exceed 15-20mg / kg of weight. Higher doses may offer more secondary problems.


  • The use of anti-inflammatories on a daily basis produces health problems, gastrointestinal level and tissue recovery
  • Using ibuprofen in competitions will hinder the absorption of nutrients and may increase dehydration and risk of hyponatremia.
  • In case of using any medication to alleviate the pain, the least side effects appear to be paracetamol with the appropriate doses, besides being able to help in competitions in hot environments.
  • Use this medication occasionally. Training under the influence of an analgesic can increase the risk of injury, since pain is a warning mechanism

 More information about Reebook Performance:




Reebok Sports Club La Finca
Pº Sports Club, 4
28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid

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