Regular Use of NSAIDS Isn’t Normal And Can Be Dangerous

This has been a hot topic since Ironman partnered with Aleve, which is an NSAID, or “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” This is big news due to the known dangers and side effects of NSAIDs that especially relate to endurance athletes’ health and safety.

Why and how do endurance athletes use NSAIDs? Athletes use NSAIDs because endurance sports require pushing through limits, which can be uncomfortable, combined with the fact that injury prevalence is very high in these sports (with running having an injury rate of 70-80%). Pain is part of the game. So what’s the big deal if we pop a couple over-the-counter pills to help out?

Here are some adverse effects of NSAID:

Higher risk of acute kidney injury (with activity)
Potential for gastrointestinal bleeding (at any time)
Increased risk of heart attack (with activity)
Increased risk of hyponatremia (with activity)
Reduced bone health (with frequent use)
Potentially reduced healing capacity (with frequent use)
Reduced muscle performance

Here are some other NSAID [not-so] fun facts:

Using NSAIDs does not improve athletic performance.
NSAIDs are responsible for ~30% of all preventable hospital admissions.
~75% of endurance athletes use NSAIDs before, during, or after racing.
Most endurance athletes are unaware of the dangers of NSAIDs.
So let’s accept the fact that discomfort is part of the game in endurance sports. If you have recurring pain from an injury, go see a rehab professional who can give you better and more permanent solutions to your pain.

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Dr. AJ Cohen

Up And Running Physical Therapy

"We Help Runners And Active Adults In The Fort Collins Area Overcome Injury And Be Stronger Than Ever, Avoid Unnecessary Time Off, All Without Medications, Injections, Or Surgery."