NSAIDs To Reduce Muscle Soreness

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

If your back is causing you pain, your head is pounding, your arthritis symptoms are flaring up, or you have a fever, you will likely turn to a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for relief.

Whenever you take aspirin, Advil®, or Aleve®, you should also take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These drugs are common pain and fever relievers. Millions of individuals every day make a decision to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to aid in alleviating headaches, muscular discomfort, swelling, rigidity, and fever.

You know the most common NSAIDs:

  • Aspirin (available as a single ingredient known by various brand names such as Bayer® or St. Joseph® or combined with other ingredients known by brand names such as Anacin®, Ascriptin®, Bufferin®, or Excedrin®).
  • Ibuprofen (known by brand names such as Motrin® and Advil®).
  • Naproxen sodium (known by the brand name Aleve®).

You can purchase medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium that are of low strength, that do not require a prescription, from drug stores and supermarkets. There, you can also obtain generic versions that are less expensive than the brand names.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is not an NSAID. This medication can help lessen aches and fever, however, it does not have the same anti-inflammatory characteristics that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) offer. Nonetheless, acetaminophen is occasionally included with aspirin in nonprescription drugs, like some types of Excedrin®.

How do NSAIDs work

NSAIDs hinder the synthesis of some bodily substances that result in inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in managing pain stemming from gradual tissue damage, such as the ache caused by arthritis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective in relief of back pain, menstrual discomfort, and headaches.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are similar to corticosteroids (aka steroids), yet do not produce as many side effects as steroids do.

Artificial substances which emulate cortisone, a hormone that is produced in the body, are known as steroids. NSAIDs, similar to cortisone, are effective at alleviating the painful and inflamed symptoms which are commonly associated with joint and muscle illnesses and injuries.

How long do NSAIDs take to work?

It all comes down to the type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) being used and the medical issue being addressed. Certain types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may begin to take effect in a matter of hours, while it may take up to two weeks for the full effect to be felt with other types.

Generally, it is suggested to take NSAIDs for acute (abrupt, sudden pain) muscular traumas that act fast. Nevertheless, due to the limited duration of their effect, these may need to be administered every four to six hours.

For cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis that necessitate lengthy treatment, physicians often endorse non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications that are taken no more than once or twice daily. It usually takes more time for these medications to work and create a curative impact.

The development of muscle soreness from exercise

Exercising is tremendously challenging yet equally advantageous for the body. It places substantial pressure on muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments, which ultimately leads to internal strain and swelling.

Those who work out consistently are better able to handle and bounce back from the pressure linked to exercising.

No matter how fit you are, doing excessive eccentric contractions such as lowering a weight during a bicep curl or running down hills may lead to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

When intensity in workouts increases or after a break in activity at the beginning of a season, DOMS is particularly pertinent.

Delayed onset muscle soreness

Most people have likely experienced DOMS in their life. If you don’t experience muscle soreness right away after exercising but rather, notice it around two days later, that is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The intensity of the symptoms can vary from just slightly uncomfortable to unbearable agony and stiffness, usually being at its strongest from one to two days after physical activity.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can hurt an athlete’s capability, for instance, the scope of motion of joints will be restricted, peak torque will be reduced, and other muscles may be put under strain as the body attempts to accommodate for sore spots.

Although it is well-known that delayed onset muscle soreness occurs due to eccentric exercise contractions, the precise reason behind how it triggers that soreness is still being discussed.

It is thought that the cause of soreness could be a combination of lactic acid buildup, tissue or muscle damage, muscle spasms, and inflammation.

Many people, particularly athletes, desire to expedite the self-healing of DOMS through rest, rather than avoiding it. And they do that by trying to block inflammation.

But an intense kind of inflammation caused by exercise is necessary for the body to recuperate and develop muscles. Stopping or postponing this process can prevent it from bouncing back or building muscle.

The connection between inflammation and recovery

The body’s immunological response to injury or illness which is meant as a defense mechanism is called inflammation.

When you are doing strenuous exercise, the muscle fibres and cells become damaged, which sets off the inflammatory response.

This swelling assists the body in fixing the damaged tissue by augmenting the blood supply to the locale, ridding cellular detritus or dirt from the influenced region, replenishing oxygen, and supplying fuel to the muscles.

The effects of this procedure can lead to inflammation, soreness, inflammation, and warmth at the place where the trauma occurred.

It is not pleasant, yet this intense inflammation is necessary for the muscles to heal themselves and become more powerful. The aim should not be to completely curb inflammation, but instead to manage it as rapidly as feasible.

NSAIDs block inflammation and aren’t a cure-all for muscle soreness

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are medicines you can get without a prescription, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and diclofenac, and are commonly used by athletes. They prevent certain enzymes (COX-2) from causing the body to become inflamed.

This helps to alleviate the ache and puffiness connected with muscle tiredness, but it also implies that the affected muscles aren’t receiving that supplementary blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, and junk pick-up squad.

A look into the scientific research regarding NSAIDs and sports performance indicators such as peak performance and self-reported pain showed that there were no considerable contrasts between NSAID assemblies and control assemblies for these measurements.

The evidence so far has not supported that taking NSAIDs have any effect on improving performance or offering a substantial amount of relief from pain in specific conditions. A smaller research project suggests that taking a higher dose of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) could reduce the muscle gains usually achieved through strength training.

A study conducted in 2017 conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of a large daily dose of ibuprofen (1,200 mg- a safe daily amount) and a small dosage of aspirin (75 mg) for eight weeks in healthy adults who participated in resistance exercises.

Scientists took baseline recordings of the participants’ muscles’ mass and vigour, as well as inflammation signs, at the outset and conclusion of the research. After the research, it was found that those who took a low dosage of aspirin had double the muscle size compared to those taking a large dose of ibuprofen.

This research faced some restrictions, including a modest sample size, the absence of a group that was not given a drug but who still did strength training, and the evaluation of two doses of two drugs. This study suggests that using NSAIDs excessively and regularly for the purpose of muscle building should be avoided.

A major point to consider: Taking NSAIDs for occasional muscular distress is secure and can provide some pain relief, however, it appears that regularly taking NSAIDs does not improve sporting performance indicators. It can be said that taking NSAIDs at regular, high quantities can actually prevent muscle development.

Specific warnings associated with NSAID use

The Food and Drug Administration requires that the labelling of NSAIDs contain these specific warnings:

These warnings are for non-aspirin NSAIDs:

  • Non-aspirin NSAIDs can increase the chance of heart attack or stroke. This risk may be greater if you have heart disease or risk factors (for example, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes) for heart disease. However, the risk may also be increased in people who do not have heart disease or those risk factors. This risk can occur early in treatment and may increase with longer use.
  • Heart problems caused by non-aspirin NSAIDs can happen within the first weeks of use and may happen more frequently with higher doses or with long-term use.
  • Non-aspirin NSAIDs should not be used right before or after heart bypass surgery.

This warning is for all NSAIDs including aspirin:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may raise the risk of serious gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers and bleeding. These side effects can occur without warning signs. This risk may be greater in people who:

  • Are older.
  • Have a previous history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems.
  • Are on blood thinners.
  • Are on multiple prescription or over-the-counter NSAIDs.
  • Drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day.

Common side effects of NSAIDs

It is possible to experience adverse reactions if you ingest great amounts of NSAIDs, or if you use them over extended periods. A few reactions are mild and will pass over time, but others are more severe and require medical care.

Do not take multiple over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or a higher dose than prescribed, unless your doctor has instructed you to do so. Do not mix a prescribed NSAID with an over-the-counter NSAID. Doing so could increase your risk of side effects.

Below are the most common side effects, though there could be additional ones. Consult with your physician if you have any queries about your tailored medication.

The most frequently reported side effects of NSAIDs are gastrointestinal (stomach and gut) symptoms, such as:

  • Gas.
  • Feeling bloated.
  • Heartburn.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation.

These gastrointestinal difficulties can typically be avoided by consuming the medication with a meal, milk or antacid tablets (e.g. Maalox® or Mylanta®).

Contact your physician if the signs persist for more than a couple of days even if you are ingesting the NSAID with nourishment, dairy or antacid. The NSAID may need to be stopped and changed.

Other side effects of NSAIDs include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling lightheaded.
  • Problems with balance.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mild headaches.

If the symptoms persist for more than a few days, discontinue taking the NSAID medication and contact your physician.

Side effects to tell your doctor right away

If you have any of these side effects, it is important to call your doctor right away:


  • Black stools — bloody or black, tarry stools.
  • Bloody or cloudy urine.
  • Severe stomach pain.
  • Blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in vomit (bleeding may occur without warning symptoms like pain).
  • Inability to pass urine, or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Unusual weight gain.
  • Jaundice.

Head (vision, hearing, etc.)

  • Blurred vision.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Photosensitivity (greater sensitivity to light).
  • Very bad headache.
  • Change in strength on one side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance.

Possible allergic reactions and other problems

  • Fluid retention (recognized by swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue, around the ankles, feet, lower legs, hands and possibly around the eyes).
  • Severe rash or hives or red, peeling skin.
  • Itching.
  • Unexplained bruising and bleeding.
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing or unusual cough.
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, palpitations.
  • Acute fatigue, flu-like symptoms.
  • Very bad back pain.
  • Feeling very tired and weak.

Icing muscles and cold baths provide short-term relief but don’t speed up recovery 

Applying cold compresses to tender muscles or immersing in a cold bath disrupts the body’s inflammatory response. The use of ice narrows down blood vessels, minimizing the circulation of blood and substances responsible for triggering inflammation in the area that is being treated.

Using this method can reduce the amount of muscle pain, swelling, and heat in the muscles that are impacted.

Yes, these can be effective in counteracting and alleviating physical discomfort that is brought on by exercise to get back in shape quickly, such as between games or during race days. It is advisable to refrain from icing regularly as a way of preventing pain to attain the best results while training.

Research conducted in 2013 studied the effects of using a cold pack on the arm muscles after physical activity versus not using a cold pack.

The study demonstrated that those who applied ice had greater feelings of exhaustion three days later and blood tests showed a delayed healing period in contrast to those who exercised without ice.

An investigation in 2017 revealed that immersing oneself in cold water after completing resistance exercises was not more helpful than doing a normal active warm-down.

A handful of current small-scale experiments and animal research have even demonstrated that using ice for cooling down after exercise can lead to a decrease in muscle size and reduced strength compared to abstaining from using ice. For more information about utilizing cold and sauna for recovery, click the link provided.

The main point to take away is that while ice and/or cold water immersion can be helpful in between activities as a short-term recovery method, they are not useful as strategies to prevent injury or reduce caution, and may even hinder the positive effects of exercise on muscle development.


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