Feel the Pain

How many of us reach into the medicine cabinet after – or even before – training or a workout? There’s those little aches and pains that just always flare up… surely popping some ibuprofen couldn’t hurt. After all, it’s sold over-the-counter so it can’t really do any harm, can it?

Yes, it can.

The danger is two-fold: you run the risk of over-medicating AND you mask pain that is your body’s way of indicating a bigger problem.

Researchers examined the blood of runners who took Ibuprofen before and during a long endurance race and compared the findings to runners who did not take the drug. They discovered some disturbing things:

  1. Biologic markers of inflammation and increased immune system response were higher in the drug group than in runners who had not taken the drug.
  2. Signs of mild kidney impairment in the drug group.
  3. Runners had no more or less pain than the group who did not take the drug.(1)

Taking any pain medication without a plan or direction can quickly lead to over-medicating and even overdose, an epidemic problem in the US. In addition to digestive problems, over-medicating also increases the odds of a heart attack or stroke, even in people who aren’t at a high risk to begin with. This is especially true if you have other health problems, when you take very high doses and when you use the medication long-term to manage symptoms.(2)

Symptoms of ibuprofen overdose can include(2):

  1. increased risk for seizures or a coma in the case of severe toxicity
  2. intestinal bleeding, especially in older adults
    dangerously low blood pressure levels
  3. ringing in the ears, blurred vision, headaches
  4. confusion, dizziness, drowsiness
  5. digestive problems, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn and stomach pain
  6. trouble urinating
  7. trouble breathing, shallow breath and wheezing
  8. skin rashes

Even more significant: treating symptoms like aches and pains with pain meds is NOT solving the underlying problem. If you’re using poor form, pushing your body too hard too soon, or not training properly, the pain you experience is reoccurring for a real, tangible – and possibly curable – reason. But if you continue to take pills to mask the pain symptom, you may never discover the source (and thus the cure) of your pain, and it will continue to affect your performance on the field, court, or race.

So, before you automatically reach into your medicine cabinet, try these suggestions:

  1. Pay attention to your body. Notice when the pain starts and ease up or stop – avoid pushing through the pain! Learn and respect your limits and plan to slowly increase them when your body is ready to endure it.
  2. Plan your routine and keep at it – even if you have no event on the calendar. Let’s be honest: a lot of us procrastinate preparing for events. Cramming in workouts for a marathon ride or race can lead to punishing workouts. If you regularly train, you can amp up slowly toward your personal best.
  3. Take care of your body! Stretch your muscles both before and after your workout, and do priming exercises to get blood flowing and joints moving before you begin pushing hard.
  4. Cross-train to keep your body alert and healthy.
  5. Take a look at your nutrition. Add anti-oxidants to your diet and avoid highly processed, pre-packaged foods. In addition, herbs and supplements that may help include:
    1. Turmeric and Ginger
    2. Bromelain
    3. Magnesium
    4. Glucosamine
    5. SAMe: a molecule that delivers sulfur to cartilage, as a supplement labeled “butanedisulfonate”.

Feel the Pain

Most importantly, make sure you build strength in the areas most vulnerable to injury and pain for athletes, runners, and fitness buffs. While it’s important to work your major muscles like the quads, hamstring, hips, core and calves, also target your lower legs and build the muscles that protect the shin, calf, ankle and knee to avoid pain altogether or prevent injuries from reoccurring. ShinTekk increases strength and flexibility of your lower legs through the physical therapy technique of resisted dorsiflexion exercise to build strength where it’s needed most. This is the go-to method recommended by physical therapists to boost running performance and train against or rehabilitate shin splints and other lower leg injuries and ShinTekk incorporates this proven method to provide consistent and incremental results that can boost performance and prevent injuries.

Sure, we’ve all heard the commercial, “just take [the pill] and ask yourself, ‘what pain?'” And yet, what we really need to know is “why the pain” – and what is the best course of treatment for it. As with many things, hitting the (pill) bottle is not always the best answer. Finding out what is really wrong and treating it through muscle strengthening, physical therapy, or rest is the best ‘pill’ you can take.

(1) http://dougkelsey.com/take-advil/ Doug Kelsey, physical therapist, human movement expert, teacher
(2) https://draxe.com/ibuprofen-overdose/ Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist

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