It turns out, pain relievers don’t just kill pain – they also destroy other things. Like muscle.
After an intense workout, the pain you feel is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). When you try to get rid of that pain with over-the-counter medications, you may actually be breaking down those muscles you just worked so hard to build up.
NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Pain Relievers), including naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, do block pain. But they also block prostaglandins – the chemicals that signal your body to produce new satellite cells. Without satellite cells, your body can’t build new muscle.
Studies have shown that people who take NSAID either before or after exercising show no increase in muscle protein synthesis, as much as 24 hours after the workout. However, the existing muscle does continue to break down at the normal rate – which means that over-the-counter painkillers essentially destroy the results of your workout.
The problem doesn’t just stop with NSAID, either. Acetaminophen, which isn’t a NSAID, still blocks prostaglandins. So does aspirin.
Kind of scary, right?
Fortunately, over-the-counter meds aren’t the only way to cut back on pain. You can still exercise, gain muscle and feel great – you just have to use a smart, healthy approach.