Should I use anti-inflammatory pills for sports injuries?

Everyone is at risk of injury to some degree but if you partake in any sporting activity, whether it be parkour, circuit training, running, jogging, weight lifting or even power walking, your risk is increased.

Of course, no one likes to admit that they are susceptible to injury when training but the fact of the matter is that everyone is open to injury; even the most diligent can be caught out with a stroke of bad luck. If you do happen to suffer an injury as the result of participation in a sporting or fitness event, the most important thing is to assess the extent of the damage and act on that.

If you are a weight lifter in the middle of a set of heavy barbell bench press for instance and you happen to feel a searing pain in your upper outer chest muscle whilst hearing a pop followed by bruising around the area, there is a chance that you have torn the muscle and it’s likely that you will need surgery to fix this.

On the other hand, if you are out jogging and you miss your footing, slip and twist your ankle, you will probably be able to rest and recover without the need to see a medical professional. A bit of knowledge and self-help can go a long way. There are countless ways that you can injure yourself during exercise but I have highlighted two common circumstances here. If however you do find yourself in an injury situation and are unsure what you have done, it’s is always best to seek medical advice.

Pain and recovery

Focusing on the common runners injury of a sprained ankle, there are a few things that you should know when it comes to recovery.

At the time of the injury your body is going to react. The first thing it will do is send signals to your brain to tell you that you have been injured. Yes, you and I know this as pain. In the case of an ankle sprain the pain will force us to stop the activity, take the weight off the injured ankle and stop it from functioning as it should.

The next thing the body will do is to flood the area with fluid, this has many functions but for the purpose of this post let’s say that this serves as damage limitation by reducing range of movement that the injured joint has. You and I know this as swelling or inflammation.Naproxen

Taking Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs is a good idea at this point. The bottom line is that they work.  They will reduce the swelling and help with pain management. But you should understand your bodys reaction to the injury and consider your actions as the administration of these pharmaceuticals could cause you to inflict further injury.

If one of the functions of the swelling is to protect the injured area by reducing movement and sending pain signals to the brain and we take that away with anti-inflammatories, we are effectively taking away the protection.

If you do have injuries of the nature discussed in this post and decide that you will try to recover without the advice of your doctor, by all means take anti-inflammatories as this will really help with swelling and pain but you should also rest the area of injury. You can use a cold compress for further pain relief if you need it. You should not look at anti-inflammatory pills as a long term solution either as they can have severe side effects.

Anti-inflammatories such as Naproxen and ibuprofen are great for pain relief and to reduce swelling but you should only use these tools as an aid to recovery. Remember that these anti-inflammatory drugs are for short term use and they only serve to treat the symptoms and not the root cause, so if you feel that you have to use these for longer than three days or maximum a week, you should definitely seek the advice of a professional, there may be deeper problems that pain killers will only serve to mask.

Thanks for reading; I hope that you have found this information useful. Please remember that this article is based only on my own opinion. Although I am a qualified fitness coach and have experience with injury, I am not a medical professional, so this information is based on my own education and common sense. If you are in any doubt, you should see your doctor or physician.

All the best

Jim