Runners & Ibuprofen: No Benefit, Could Cause "Colonic Seepage"

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If you're like me, one of the main goals during a run is to not shit yourself. But if you're like almost 70 percent of runners, you routinely pop a couple ibuprofen prior to a hard workout or a race as a preemptive strike against soreness. New research suggests you can't have it both ways.

A group of Dutch scientists published a study in the December issue of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, which found ibuprofen taken before an hour bike ride revealed elevated protein levels in the blood—the marker for intestinal damage—post-exercise.


No, don't panic yet. Previous studies have shown slight intestinal damage occurs normally with endurance activities. And the December study only tested nine athletes—it doesn't take a community college course in biology to know that definitive conclusions can only be drawn from a bigger study.


But, as the study's lead scientist Dr. Kim van Wijck told the New York Times, the implications are disconcerting, and "intestinal integrity might be compromised."

Besides "intestinal integrity," the good doctor also suggested that a few ibuprofen could make it more difficult for muscles to absorb the raw materials to repair and replenish themselves. Previous studies have already suggested this.


There's also the possibility of "colonic seepage."

Past surveys have found that an advanced dose of the pain med did little to reduce post-race soreness anyway. "So why do so many athletes continue enthusiastically to swallow large and frequent doses of ibuprofen and related anti-inflammatory painkillers, including aspirin, before and during exercise?" asks the NYT's Gretchen Reynolds.


"The idea is just entrenched in the athletic community that ibuprofen will help you to train better and harder," says the doctor of the seepage study. "But that belief is simply not true. There is no scientifically valid reason to use ibuprofen before exercise and many reasons to avoid it."

[New York Times, Photo: Brown]