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Do Painkillers Help or Hurt During Exercise? No Pain, No Gain.

The use of painkillers is widespread in sports. Most do not understand the consequences. The truth is that you may increase the odds of injury.
Athletes constantly look for new ways to recover faster, compete stronger and last longer. Many take over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce the pain and aid recovery. Before and after competition.
Athletes lace-up, suit-up and pop a few Advil before the game. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce pain and decrease inflammation. Vitamin I, “Ibuprofen”. Athletes use painkillers to achieve higher intensity levels and prolonged endurance. Athletes at all levels are addicted to painkillers.
The bottom line is ibuprofen does not affect performance, muscle damage or perceived soreness. Studies conclude that there is no discernible decrease in the perception of pain. Nor diminished muscle soreness. 
No pain, no gain.
When you exercise your body produces increased levels of collagen. This leads to building denser bones and stronger tissues. Popping painkillers before exercising inhibits normal collagen response. So, your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen. And your body is now susceptible to greater injury.
Athletes who do not take painkillers, experience less inflammation than those who do take NSAIDs. NSAIDs also affect that immune system, those who do take pills are more susceptible to infections.
Is it safe? Are you at risk?
NSAIDs actually contribute to elevated instances of inflammation and cell damage. As an enhancement supplement, NSAIDs have no positive effect on sports performance. In fact, NSAIDs may pose a serious health risk in some endurance athletes.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that NSAIDs retard healing. NSAIDs block the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins aid in the creation of collagen. Collagen is the building block of most tissues. Fewer prostaglandins mean less collagen. NSAIDs inhibit the healing process to injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones.
When are painkillers justified?
Upon experiencing inflammation and pain from an acute injury, NSAIDs are effective. Moderate use of pain relievers help reduce inflammation, swelling and offset pain. To take painkillers before an intense workout is a mistake. 
The British Journal of Sports Medicine states —  “There is no indication or rationale for the current prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes, and such ritual use represents misuse.”
Simple, safe prevention.
A good warm-up is the best medicine. Preparing your body for intense exercise offsets the potential for injury and soreness. A thorough warm up helps increase the body’s blood flow. This helps decrease muscle stiffness and reduces the risk of injury. And also increases the likelihood of improved performance.
Benefits of a proper warm-up. There are real physiological and psychological benefits to a warm-up:
  1. Enhances Speed and Strength. During a warm-up the temperature increases within the muscles. The warmed muscle both contracts and relax with less stress. This enhances both speed and strength.
  2. Reduces Risk of Injury. As the body heats up, your muscles become more elastic. Reducing the risk of strains and pulls.
  3. Less Stress. As your blood vessels expand the blood flows with less resistance. Thereby lessening stress on the heart.
  4. Prevents Overheating. Increasing your heart rate and blood flow, helps cool your body down. Sweating releases heat through the skin to prevent overheating during in intense exercise.
  5. Improves Endurance. As blood temperature rises, more oxygen pumps through your veins providing more oxygen for your muscles. This helps to improve endurance.
  6. Improves Range of Motion. During the warm-up your body increases production of hormones.  Increased production of carbohydrates and fatty acids stimulates results in increased energy production. The result is an increase in your range of motion.
  7. Mental Preparedness. Clear your mind during the warm-up. Project a positive outcome and mentally review your game plan. This will help you perform at a higher level during the event. 
Maintain a healthy diet.  Hydrate before, during and after endurance events. Simple, safe drug-free prevention is the best way to reduce injury and soreness.
To learn more about physical therapy treatment programs, set up a free exploratory examination with one of our doctors today.
Moriarty Physical Therapy is the premier physical therapist provider here in the Hudson Valley with centers located near you. To find out more about physical therapy or to book your first appointment with a physical therapist, visit our website at or contact Moriarty Physical Therapy at (845) 454-4137.

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Come visit one of our physical therapy clinics in New York or North Carolina and one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will do a 15-minute consultation to see if physical therapy is right for you. In the consultation, we’ll help determine the source of pain and movement restrictions to see if you would benefit from physical therapy or might need the assistance of another healthcare professional. If so, we’ll make a referral and help speed up achieving your health goal.

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