Another good piece of advice for my "spirited" (i.e. competitive and will finish this event no matter how bad it hurts) runners out there from Men's Heath Magazine.
The Worst Thing To Do Before a Race
Leave the Advil at home. Popping painkillers before a long race could actually make pain much worse, says a new study in BMJ Open.
Marathon and half-marathon participants who consumed over-the-counter analgestics—diclofenac, ibuprofren, and aspirin—before the 2010 Bonn Marathon in Germany were five times more likely to experience adverse side effects like gastrointestinal issues, haematuria (blood in urine), stomach cramps, and heart palpitations during their run than those who stuck to a pill-free pre-race ritual.
There was also a positive correlation between dosage and risk. So the more milligrams runners took, the higher their chances of suffering (even more than normal).
What’s up? Painkillers reduce the production of protective hormones called prostaglandins, says study author Kay Brune, Ph.D. The blockage of that production then aggravates the stress exerted by long-distance running. “Between this stress and the drugs, the GI-tract, kidney, and cardiovascular systems are overrun,” Brune says.
Of the 49 percent of runners who reportedly popped pills, only 11 percent said they were already in pain before the race; the rest were simply being cautious. None of them seemed to know the risks involved.
“Bottom line: If you’re not in pain, don’t take painkillers,” says Reed Ferber, Ph.D., director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary. “You’re putting yourself at a metabolic disadvantage, because now your body is fighting to get those pills out of your system, rather than focusing on the very important task at hand.”
And if you are in pain? Don’t take painkillers. “They’ll simply mask critical signals that you need from your body about when to reduce your intensity, or stretch, or stop running,” says Ferber. If you feel pain in training, the best thing you can do is ask a sports medicine doctor to help you figure out what the root cause of that pain is, and then address it fast. “With proper rehab, you can significantly increase strength and cut your pain in half in just three weeks,” Ferber says.
If you’re not on the verge of a serious injury, but still need a little pain relief on race day, Ferber recommends a more natural, temporary fix, like Kinesio Tape (kinesiotaping.com), compression sleeves (zensah.com) or a Cho-Pat Knee Strap (cho-pat.com).
Meanwhile, save the Motrin for when you’ve finished your last mile. “For most people, pain at the end of a long race is unavoidable, and it’s okay to take painkillers then,” says Brune. “But if you’re in pain from the start, you’re probably better off not participating.”
If you liked this story, you’ll love these:
- Your Guide to the Perfect Pain Killer
- The Hidden Danger Elite Athletes Face
- 30 Running Tips from 30 Marathoners
Lane Alexander, Rehab Therapist, LMT, CKTP, and Kinesio Tex Tape Distributor
The Motus Massage Therapy Clinic