Killing the pain of exercise – does it kill the gains too
In a study conducted at Ball State University years ago, researchers found that lifters who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen disrupted the benefits of lifting weights. The manufacturer of Tylenol funded this study.
After the results of this study came in the researchers discussed amongst themselves the ill effects of both of these drugs on muscle protein synthesis. This is especially true, according to the study, when a person is trying to build up muscle mass.
Because the original study was only a one-day study, it was decided to extend it out with a greater population. This population was a mature group of 36 men and women 60 to 78 years in age. This group exercised for three full months. It is unknown exactly how many times a week they exercised or what the exercises consisted of but the results were outstandingly remarkable.
According to lead researcher, Todd Trappe, “those lifting weights and taking recommended doses of ibuprofen or acetaminophen increased both their strength and muscle mass 25 to 50% beyond that of placebo group which lifted weights and took look-alike but inactive pills.”
The question that immediately arose after these results were examined was whether or not you should be adding these drugs your exercise program. The quick answer from Trappe was no.
As he explained ” the amount of the benefit that you get when you do resistance exercise without the drugs is so substantial that is not worth risking their potential side effects such as gastric bleeding.”
What about the trainees who are already taking these drugs? Todd explained it this way” you don’t need to worry that they’re interfering with any resistance exercise are doing.”
Now from my reading of the literature and perhaps this is just true for the younger trainees, most of it states that taking a pain reducing substance tends to lower the synthesizing ability of the protein after exercise. More study obviously needs to be conducted in this area. However, for the older generation it appears that taking these substances will help you maintain and improve your strength and muscle mass.
If these results were true then, is there reason to doubt they would be true today? In my gym, the recommendation is to readjust the lifting schedule rather than revert to these types of pain management aides.