Something to Think About Before You Pop Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

Marian Yasuda sent me a link to this interesting article on Ibuprofen from The New York Times. Thanks Marian!

There was also a companion article on Acetaminophen.

Please take the time to read these. As athletes we have all probably taken one or the other of these in hopes of easing the pain and soreness after a tough workout.

Unfortunately here is current a situation (Erik Skaggs) where some of the damage is being blamed on too much Ibuprofen. 

Thanks to Tom Craven for this link.

Good stuff!

Aloha, Bob

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  1. My running buddy, Craig Waginald, and I were running our own version of the Volcano earlier this July and were supported by his father. The father is a now retired physician specializing in renal care. He was very serious with his warnings about NEVER using acetaminophin or ibuprofin when doing ultra distance running. He said if you have to take any you MUST make sure to increase your hydration and even then you are gambeling. It is not a matter of being a person who is not affected, it has more to do with your internal conditions on that particular day. Thus you never know when it could be a serious threat to your health. I did not ask him what to use instead and would appreciate any feedback about what can be safely used. Thanks again Marian. I have so often just reached for the pills to ease even minor pains.

  2. “We had researchers at water stops” during the Western States event, Nieman says, asking the racers how the hours of exertion felt to them. “There was no difference between the runners using ibuprofen and those who weren’t. So the painkillers were not useful for reducing pain” during the long race, he says, and afterward, the runners using ibuprofen reported having legs that were just as sore as those who hadn’t used the drugs.”
    Though I don’t question the need for care in using these drugs, the kind of research noted above is, in my opinion, rather useless. Most people run to the edge, take ibu, and then run to the edge again. Yes everyone has pain, taking the IBU or not. Question is when do you finish the race.
    I have found that I benefit most when I do not pre-dose and then fight the first couple of hours on my own before dosing.—hence my very slow starts. My intake is generally less than 50 percent over what I would have taken if dosing started pre-race. In a 100 miler I don’t see any major difference in times, but frankly I don’t think I could finish the race if I had not used Ibu to deal with the nagging muscle pains.
    But I’m almost 60 and my muscle system is not what a 40 or 30 year old experiences. I also have a tendency to hydrate heavily. In fact I ofter hydrate too much.
    In addition I always stop taking Ibu after a race for at least a few days just to get it out of my system. It is a bit of extra soreness, but I figure I have already used my allotment.
    Finally, I dramatically reduce my intake during training. (except when Huddy, or Fish, or Gordon are behind me and I need every trick I can use to try and stay ahead of them.) ie when training becomes a ‘friendly’ race.
    The article, if nothing else, makes it clear that the interlinking factors effecting us is complex. It is important that we understand our particular ‘realm’ as we train and race on order to quickly assess deviations from the norm and act accordingly; a process that takes years of training and running Ultras. Ibu and its sisters are not a cure-all and should not be treated simply as race time enchancers.

  3. You say:
    Question is when do you finish the race.
    I disagree:
    Question is whether you end up with acute renal failure. It seems to be much more prevalent and I would say that caution is absolutely warranted.

  4. The research is probably not great but the facts are there. People, meaning runners (and others) have had issues with vitamin I resulting in kidney failure. I have heard stories of people taking crazy amounts of this stuff–like 3600mg in a 24 hour period. I wish there was better guidance.
    I somehow banged my knee tonight on my mtn bike. I had a golf ball size bump just above my knee almost immediately after it happened. I kept riding, the swelling went down and after getting home, showering, eating dinner etc, I iced it and took three (600mg total) vitamin I. Does that put me at risk? What else could I have taken? Does it really help or is it really not making a difference?
    During the H.U.R.T. 100, I have taken 1200mg over the 35 hours. Does that put me at risk?
    It would be nice to know limits, alternatives, and where to find better answers.
    Aloha, Bob

  5. Marian, You pose an either-or-response to some rather technical points. Plus at no point did I say that caution was not warranted. I am always aware of the amount I have taken in any period and make every effort to limit the intake.
    Secondly, bad research is just bad research. To test for a non quantifiable attribute, like ‘how much pain do you feel’ is not science. It is just fluffy statistical crap. To actually say that ib had no effect, based on how people felt at water stations is just ridiculous.
    Better to ask the question how did taking ib effect finishing time over a defined course is a much better testing methodology. It at least is quantifiable. Asking people how they feel at mile sixty is just stupid. Who the hell feels good under any conditions at that point? That is not research, that is just begging the answer the research wishes to prove.
    People are expected to know the risks of taking what they take. If they don’t it is their problem. (Read these and the plythora of other articles on the problems and dangers of Ib.) I don’t dispute the risk, but I think if it were really a major issue we would see a lot of people getting screwed up on the trails and after races as a result of taking these drugs. The fact is we don’t see that many problems. Not to say there are not problems, just that we don’t see that many actual problems reported.
    As for me. I will continue to take Ib as I feel I need it, and I will continue to be aware of the risks.

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