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Professional and amateur athletes using anti-inflammatory medication may have to have a rethink, with a study carried out by the Karolinska Institutet showing that such usage can inhibit muscle growth in young, healthy individuals engaging in weight training. The study, which was published in Acta Physiologica, looked at the effects of ibuprofen, an over the counter NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
The study looked at groups of healthy 18 to 35-year-old men and women, who randomly split into two groups. The first were given a relatively high dose of NSAID (1,200 mg ibuprofen, considered a normal dosage) daily, while the others consumed a relatively low dose (75 mg acetylsalicylic acid). The period of dosage lasted eight weeks.
During that time the participants did weight-training for the thigh muscles two to three times per week. Once that period was concluded, researchers measured areas such as muscle growth, muscle strength and anti-inflammatory markers in the muscles. The conclusion showed that the increase in muscle volume in the low-dose aspirin group was double that of the high-dose ibuprofen group.
“The results are extremely interesting since the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is so globally widespread, not least amongst elite athletes and recreationally active individuals,” says principal investigator Tommy Lundberg said. “We chose to look at the effect of ibuprofen as it is the most well-studied anti-inflammatory drug on the market, but we believe that high doses of all types of OTC NSAIDs have similar effects.”
Because the markers for muscle inflammation were inhibited in the ibuprofen group, Dr Lundberg believes this is the reason for the differences. “This suggests that muscular inflammation processes, when combined with weight training, are beneficial to the long-term development of new muscle mass, at least in the young.” As for older populations, previous studies have indicated that t anti-inflammatory drugs may actually protect against age-related muscle-mass loss.
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