A few weeks ago, I asked a new client what he had already tried for his back pain. He surprised me by replying with “Vitamin I.”
He could see I was puzzled, so he quickly clarified — Ibuprofen.
It’s the first I’d heard of this term, but is it NOT the first time I’ve heard of people taking Ibuprofen routinely or for prolonged periods. For some it’s because they are in pain already… but for others it’s to prevent pain when they are about to do something they know will hurt.
Ibuprofen is a type of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that is commonly used to reduce inflammation and pain.
Some reasons you might take it are because you’ve had an acute injury such as a sprain or strain, to deal with headaches, because your arthritis flared up, or because you need to bring a fever down.
When you absolutely can’t get control over pain or inflammation naturally (such as with ice, rest, or therapeutic movement) taking Ibuprofen can be helpful.
But when you’re taking it on a regular basis to control and manage pain, or if you find you’re always taking it before certain types of exercise or activity just so you can prevent pain… it’s something to be concerned about.
Long-term use of Ibuprofen has its consequences. Plus, being in pain all the time, or experiencing pain every time you exercise or do a certain activity, is not normal and you should get it checked out.
So what are the consequences of too much “Vitamin I?”
The consequences are minimal if you’re just grabbing Advil every now and then to ease a headache or take the edge off of a particularly painful back pain episode. You’ll always want to check with your doctor or pharmacist first before taking any type of medication — even one like Ibuprofen that is easily accessible over the counter — but assuming you’ve been cleared, it’s rare that you’ll experience any harmful effects from the occasional dose of “Vitamin I.”
The problem is when you’re always reaching for that Advil.
At some point you want to consider what might be causing your pain to keep coming back.
Every time you resort to something like Ibuprofen as a way to control recurring pain, you’re only putting a bandaid on the problem. When it comes to musculoskeletal pain, such as back, knee, hip, shoulder pain or headaches…
Remember that 80% of the time it can be resolved with movement instead of medication.
So consider talking to one of our movement experts who can help you naturally resolve your pain and get you off that “Vitamin I” regimen.
Another common reason people resort to regular use of Ibuprofen is to prevent inflammation or muscle soreness before exercise or vigorous activity. This has become especially common with athletes and weekend warriors.
This is never a good idea.
Research has shown that taking “Vitamin I” ahead of exercise can actually hurt your performance and hinder your recovery. Not to mention the long-term health implications of using Ibuprofen in this manner!
In a study published my Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers discovered that when distance runners took 600mg of Ibuprofen before an event, they ended up with more tissue-damaging oxidative stress afterwards compared to those who took nothing, thus debunking the theory that “Vitamin I” can help you avoid inflammation.
In this case it increased!
Another study done on cyclists found that Ibuprofen can damage your gut during exercise and lead to a leaky small intestine.
And finally, scientists have conducted animal research that shows taking “Vitamin I” as a prophylactic for muscle soreness actually hinders your recovery.
If you’re finding yourself constantly in pain or very sore after or during certain types of exercises and activities, you may want to look at how you’re warming up or preparing for these things.
If you have consistent problem areas such as back or knee pain, there are corrective exercises you can learn that will better prepare your joints for repetitive and strenuous activities.
In many cases, corrective movements can help you avoid pain entirely.
But at the very least, they’ll help to reduce any pain you do experience much faster, and you’ll recover more quickly.
And for tissue inflammation, there are great natural alternatives that are safe to consume before a particularly strenuous workout. Tea, tart cherry juice, and turmeric are all considered natural anti-inflammatories that are safe, and don’t come with the harmful side-effects of “Vitamin I.”
While I’m a huge advocate of avoiding pain medication whenever possible, there are times when taking Ibuprofen makes sense. But it should be occasional and minimal and you should always be checking in with your doctor to make sure it’s safe.
But even when your doctor says it’s ok to use right now, know that long-term use of Ibuprofen can damage your digestive system, interfere with your hormones, and increase your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
It’s always best to look for natural ways to ease pain first.
Movement is my favorite form of medicine.
If you want to find the movement that is YOUR medicine, so you can stop using “Vitamin I” as a bandaid…
Request a FREE Discovery Session with one of my specialists.
They’ll talk to you first to make sure you’re even a good fit for what we do… and if so… let you know how we can help!