Skip the OTC drugs for those aches and pains.
If you’ve had a particularly bad headache or stomach cramp recently, it’s likely you’ve reached for the Paracetamol or Nurofen.
But while over-the-counter painkillers aren’t going to do you much harm in those cases, if you’re considering taking a couple of tablets to help with the aches and pains from your last spinning class, you might want to think again, especially if you’ve another class lined up this evening.
Why? Well, the use of certain painkillers and anti-inflammatories could actually inhibit your body’s ability to recover post-workout, and leave you more vulnerable to future injuries down the line.
“Painkillers affect your entire body, not just the part that hurts” Dr. Kristin Speaker tells Women’s Health. “This means that they may suppress your body’s ability to respond to and recover from exercise properly.”
To get into the specifics, if you’re taking a painkiller like ibuprofen to reduce muscle pain or inflammation, you’re essentially cutting off your body’s recovery process before it’s had a chance to do its job.
After a tough workout – or if you’re in the early stages of an injury, in which case you shouldn’t be anywhere near a gym, FYI – blood flow increases to the area of your body that requires help, while also stimulating the nerves that cause us to feel pain. This is a natural process that ensures proper healing, and to interfere with that just so that you can continue with your exercise routine could do more harm than good.
Plus, a 2009 study by scientists in the US showed that the use of certain non-steroid anti-inflammatories by athletes could actually “delay healing of acute ligament, muscle and tendon injuries” and leave athletes more pre-disposed to future injury.
The moral of the story? If you have some mild muscle soreness, it might be best to skip the painkillers and just do a more gentle workout ’til you’re feeling on form again. And if you’re experiencing severe pain or twinges, skip the gym for a while and rest up. It’ll stand to you in the long term.
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