Conventional wisdom is to minimize inflammation following an injury with ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Advil). A Cleveland clinic study led by Lan Zhou concluded that inflammation is essential for regeneration of damaged muscle tissue. Inflammation triggers the release of IGF-1, a powerful anabolic hormone. This hormone is vital to tissue repair and reestablishment of tissue blood flow. Following an injury, athletes should use anti-inflammatory drugs sparingly— enough to reduce pain, but not enough to eliminate inflammation.
The take-home message is that inflammation is part of the healing process. Other studies have found that inflammation is also important for muscle hypertrophy. (Journal Federation American Societies Experimental Biology, Published Online October 1)