How These Pain Relievers Can Kill Your Gains

Intense weight training often leaves you with sore joints and muscles. Who hasn’t had trouble walking up stairs or sitting down after leg day at some point in their life? If you’re reaching for pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to cut the pain and get through those days of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), you could be seriously inhibiting your ability to gain muscle.

In a study from Ball State University in Indiana, researchers found that both ibuprofen and acetaminophen inhibited protein synthesis after weight training. In layman’s terms, protein synthesis is one of the most – if not the most – important physiological factors when it comes to increasing muscle size and strength. Researchers discovered that these drugs block the production of cyclooxgenase (COX), which stimulates the production of inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins. Inflammation is painful, but it is the body’s way of coping with cell injury and irritation, and some inflammation appears to be critical for promoting protein synthesis following weight training.

So if you’re limping around after your next leg workout, take heart – you’re probably growing at the same time.

Source: American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 202: R2241-R2248, 2007)