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Is it safe to take ibuprofen for the aches and pains of exercise?

August 9, 2017

About the Author

photo of Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School. … See Full Bio
View all posts by Robert H. Shmerling, MD


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Maurice H
August 17, 2017

I am taking Duexis a very expensive NSAID for surgery relief. Anyone who has had a Disectomy or Fusion know the incredible post-op difficulties. Since the Duexis is not doing such a good job I am going back to Nabumteone 500 once a day. I am not a marathon runner but do treadmill once a week to augment my swimming two times a week. I certainly hope there is no backlash from the use of Nabumetone in moderation. Anyone thinking of cervical surgery should really look it over before doing it. It is a miserable recovery.

August 16, 2017

I suffer with various types of pain. Chronic back ache, arthritis n in all my bones etc. I am 45, female, started suffering with chronic I. B. S.
I take Tremadol 50mgx2 everyday to cope.. Is this ruining my kidneys?

Paul Poulin
August 14, 2017

Most “Ultra” exercisers have some sort of Kidney or Stomach problems from NSAIDS because of “Ultra” use of the drug for injuries, aches, and pain incurred from too much exercise. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, 86 years old, MPH from Harvard, who has been studying aerobic exercise since 1970 concluded, “If you’re running more than 15-20 miles a week, you’re doing it for reasons other than to achieve good health.” Your cardiovascular increase is minimal after that and you are more likely to become chronically injured from it.

O’Keefe J.H., Patil H.R., Lavie C.J., Magalski A., Vogel R.A., McCullough P.A. (2012). Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects from Excessive Endurance Exercise. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 87(6), 587-595.

Claire Santos
August 14, 2017

It’s nice to know that a sample of a tiny group belonging to a small, elite group might have an adverse outcome from taking non-aspirin NSAID’s. Now what about the big group known as everyone else? There really aren’t any implications that are relevant for the mainstream fitness people… except maybe to scare them into thinking they shouldn’t treat their pain (which raises that mental health question that no one wants to ask out loud – if the activity hurts you so much to require recurrent pain relief, why are you doing it?) But that’s another topic for another day. No sale here today. Will check for further studies.

August 14, 2017

“Researchers divided 89 ultramarathoners participating in one of several seven-day, 155-mile races into two groups: one group took 400 mg of ibuprofen (equivalent to two over-the-counter Advil) every four hours for three or four doses toward the end of the race. The other group took a placebo.”

This is annoyingly imprecise. I understand that they took a total of 3/4 400mg tablets at a rate of one every 4 hours preceding and during the last day’s racing. Given that they would be spending about 3 hours running each day, when exactly did they take the iBuprofen ..??

Given that it is impossible to adequately rehydrate the body during this type of long and intense activity and thus avoid kidney damage, it would seem best avoided ..??

Dale Matson
August 14, 2017

I was an ultrarunner and Ibuprofen was banned at the Western States 100 mile endurance run over a decade ago because of renal problems. I have three ulcers today that can be attributed to my excessive use of Ibuprofen.

Roger Cranmer
August 14, 2017

Very interesting. I am always looking for ways to reduce aches and pain after yard work and/or golf. I am 73 so pain management is important to me. Thanks

Ronald Coons
August 14, 2017

What about Voltaren gel for muscles aches, since it’s non systemic?

August 14, 2017

Well this is concerning ! Personally i took ibuprofen after running 10km race, but there are better ways of figting inflammation related issues especially eating balanced food, massage and sleep enought…

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