Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Are Painkillers Recommended To Deal With Muscle Soreness? By Veeraj Goyaram

Training and Supplements Advice

Are Painkillers Recommended To Deal With Muscle Soreness?
By Veeraj Goyaram
I was doing some reading on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) today and came across some really nice articles, among which is a very nice review in the journal Sports Medicine by celebrated hypertrophy scientist Brad Schoenfeld (Schoenfeld BJ, 2012) I would like to share my findings with you.

Pain killer pills, mainly Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be very popular among bodybuilders because of the quick relief they provide to the common aches and pains associated with our battles in the gym. I myself have been guilty of popping pills albeit quite rarely to deal with soreness, not because I am a pussy but because the pain of the previous day's training was standing in my way of training a particular body-part efficiently.

Common NSAIDs include Aspirin, Naproxen and Ibuprofen and are easily available over the counter and on shelves almost everywhere.

How do NSAIDs reduce muscle soreness?
Molecules known as prostanoids are partly responsible for DOMS. They are known to cause inflammation and sensitize your pain receptors so that your sensitivity to pain increases. NSAIDs have been found to block the production of prostanoids by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX) involved in the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostanoids.

The problem with NSAIDs.
The problem with NSAIDs is that it may not be a good idea to counter inflammation that occurs after exercise because it plays an important role in muscular development. Prostanoids are involved in the stimulation of protein synthesis in muscle and blocking its production may be counterproductive to muscle growth.

Research using rats corroborated the above as muscle hypertrophy was found to be reduced by 50% if NSAIDs were administered regularly. However, human studies showed confounding results because NSAIDs were seen to increase muscle hypertrophy. Before you rush to the pharmacy to stack up on NSAIDs let me please warn you that is a catch in these findings: the research was done in untrained and elderly subjects. What is happening in these subjects may not be a reflection of what happens in a young well-trained or actively exercising individual.

Another interesting finding is that NSAIDs use can decrease the number of satellite cells. These are "repair cells" which are located next to muscle cells. In response to muscle-damaging exercise like resistance training satellite cells are activated because of the need to increase protein synthesis (Figure below). This activation is prevented by NSAIDs.

NSAIDs prevent the activation of satellite cells which help to regenerate muscle

The take-home messages:
  • Do not go overboard with NSAIDs. It may be fine to use them once in a while to treat unbearable pain but don't make this a habit.
  • Bodybuilders thrive on pain. Most of us love DOMS because it is an indication that we have caused damage and the muscle is now growing bigger. We feel crap if we aren't sore the next day. In most cases we let the pain go away by itself rather than take painkillers, don't we? 
Note: soreness is not always a good indication of workout effectiveness. 
More on that in another article.
  • If soreness is really an issue for you like for instance you play sports in which you will get your butt kicked if you present to your practice or competition sore the next day then there are several treatment options at your disposal. One being the use of L-Carnitine to help reduce muscle soreness. Another article will deal with nutritional treatment of DOMS.
Krentz, JR, et al. The effects of ibuprofen on muscle hypertrophy, strength, and soreness during resistance training. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 33: 470-475, 2008.

Mikkelsen, UR et al. Local NSAID infusion does not affect protein synthesis and gene expression in human muscle after eccentric exercise. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 21: 630-644, 2011.

Schoenfeld, BJ. Does exercise-induced muscle damage play a role in skeletal muscle hypertrophy? J Strength Cond Res. 26(5):1441-53, 2012.

Soltow, QA et al. Ibuprofen inhibits skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rats. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 38: 840-846, 2006.

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My Bio: I am a Mauritian originally from Roche Bois, Port Louis and now based in Cape Town, South Africa where I work as a research and development consultant (product developer) for the nutritional supplements and functional foods company. I did my postgraduate studies in molecular biology of exercise, looking at the influence of nutrition and exercise in gene expression in muscle. My research is relevant and applicable to exercising individuals, sports persons and diabetic individuals. The knowledge that I share with you stems from my 18 years of experience in bodybuilding and 8 years of university education in the field. I have also published work in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism (2012, 2014), International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2013) and co-authored two book chapters on exercise and diabetes. I also presented my research work at the 2012 International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference (UK).
©,2014 Veeraj Goyaram, Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing dear. My friend is also taking best PCT products for so long and his body is well maintained, as he can work out for long time easily.