Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Does ibuprofin cause muscle cramps?

in: Orienteering; Training & Technique

Jun 4, 2007 4:51 AM # 
Did a long, hard run today and forgot to take IBU. My habit has been to take a couple to take the edge off for runs longer than 2hrs. Fast pace, hard finish. Not even a hint of a cramp. Cramps have been an issue for me for some time, esp hamstrings. Even after, I stretched my quads by holding my foot back behind my glute -- a guaranteed cramp in the hamstring usually -- for a full minute with nothing.

Anyone else have this kind of experience?
Jun 4, 2007 11:24 AM # 
I've heard that regular use of ibuprofen is not good because it prevents the body from adjusting to the phyisical demands of running (try searching for more details). My step-son, who runs high school track and xc, has greatly improved his running over the last several years. He swears by doing a warm-up, stretching, running, doing a cool down, stretching again, then taking an ice bath. He also stretches every evening before bed. He says this has helped reduce cramps and injuries as well as speeds up recovery. I have adopted the warm up and stretching techniques but find I may still need to stop and stretch on a long run. I'm too wimpy to take an ice bath.
Jun 4, 2007 12:06 PM # 
Any time I read of regular drug use to assist with workouts, I feel the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Seems like you might be ignoring something your body is trying to tell you.

Combining NSAID's (of which ibuprofen is the most common) with long workouts is a dicey proposition, particularly if it's hot. NSAID's appear to interfere with your body's water regulation. That could lead to muscle cramps, but it could also lead to a lot of things more serious.
Jun 4, 2007 12:08 PM # 
i think that the ice baths are what helps the most...i think that it takes out somesort of chemical in the muscles that causes cramps...the stretching and warm-up/cool-down stuff helps ot alot also...but i think that icebaths are teh best
Jun 4, 2007 12:25 PM # 
taking ibuprofen with runs? high protein diet? Sounds like you are following all the latest useless fitness fads. Consistent hard training and a regular healthy diet will be far more effective in helping your training and racing.
Jun 4, 2007 1:10 PM # 
Jun 4, 2007 4:56 PM # 
On long runs, isn't potassium and sodium loss a big cause of muscle cramps?
Jun 4, 2007 6:05 PM # 
Good article. It echos a lesson I learned from Ultimate teammate Steve (AP: SteveN) about 20 years ago at a Mars tournament in Pittsburgh. At the end of a long day, Steve would never take Ibs (or beers FTM) until he was completely rehydrated enough for a good p.... well, you know. Yes, my odd brain remembers weird stuff like this (and forgets important things) but at least it's kept my kidneys healthy all these years.
Aug 26, 2008 12:42 PM # 
In my opinion, taking ibuprofin isnt something you should fall against in regards to cramps. To prevent cramps, quite often all you need to do is change your diet. Get familiar with why they happen. Usually just drinking lost of watter and eating potassium rich foods can prevent cramps, pluse this is a healthier alternatvie then injesting drugs into your system. On your next long run, try eating a banana before and after your run, plus drink lots of water.
May 4, 2009 6:41 PM # 
Just ran across this paper.

Ibuprofen use, endotoxemia, inflammation, and plasma cytokines during ultramarathon competition
David C. Nieman
March 2006

Ibuprofen use did not attenuate plasma CK levels or
post-race DOMS in our subjects. A majority of other investigators
have also reported no beneficial effect ibuprofen or
other NSAIDS in alleviating muscle soreness and damage
after contraction-induced muscle injury (Donnelly et al.,
1990; Peterson et al., 2003; Pizza et al., 1999; Trappe et al.,
2002). Thus the high prevalence of ibuprofen use by ultramarathon athletes appears to have few if any physiological or performance benefits (Nieman et al., 2005).
In summary, ibuprofen use by athletes the day before
and during participation in a 160-km race event was linked
to significant increases in blood indicators of systemic
inflammation including CRP and seven cytokines compared
to controls. Plasma LPS did not increase in either
group during the 160-km race, but was modestly elevated
pre- and post-race in the ibuprofen group. Elevated postrace
serum ALT, AST, and BUN levels, and lower urine
creatinine levels in ibuprofen users suggest a higher release
of muscle and liver cell enzymes and a slight disturbance of
kidney function compared to controls. These ibuprofen related
effects occurred despite no group differences in race
time, RPE, or ratings of gastrointestinal discomfort. Ibuprofen
use provided no benefit for alleviation of muscle
damage or post-race perceptions of muscle soreness.
May 4, 2009 9:55 PM # 
One of the most common causes for muscle cramping is a deficit in salts, as mentionned above, but don't forget Calcium, also a usual suspect in muscle cramping.

Another common cause is the lack of capillaries and small blood vessels to help pump the garbage out of the muscles during sustained effort. Sounds like the only way to build up these important blood vessels is to train and train, and to not be shy of really low intensity training, often neglected.

As for specific hamstring cramps - they could also come from overusing the hams and not using the hip flexors and glutes enough.

Maybe running without fooling your body with NSAID's allowed you to run more in touch with your system, therefore suffering less cramps?
May 5, 2009 2:25 AM # 
Fat Rat:
since ibuprofen is not supposed to action through any attenuation in plasma CK levels or post-race DOMS as above, I don't understand why the authors performed the research the way they did. that doesnt however mean its not useful (but it doesnt mean its good for you for every run either)
May 5, 2009 4:01 AM # 
There wasn't really any link between the paper and IBU causing cramps. When I read the paper, I remembered several AP threads on IBU and this was the first thread I found...

The quotation is the last 2 paragraphs of a 7 or 8 page paper for which I found no free access. I'll read it again, but the study was intended to examine the effects of taking IBU just prior to and during an ultra event. I think the increased CK levels were a surprise.

YMMV, and I'm not a medical expert, but I took the results as perhaps a good reason not to use ibuprofen during ultra endurance events. I have in the past, and I know many people who do so regularly. Based on the study results, not only does IBU not have the desired anti-inflammatory effect, but seems to upregulate the production/release of several pro-inflammatory cytokines.

The link between ultra-endurance and increased endotoxemia is interesting. There are studies that explore endotoxemia as a precursor or even a cause of heat stroke.

This discussion thread is closed.