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Pain Killers Increase Muscle Mass and Strength

Regularly taking common pain killers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be a fasterjoggling pills way to increase your muscle mass and strength and make you a better runner.

The science

According to this research published by the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, daily doses of these drugs substantially increased muscle mass & strength when used as part of a weight lifting program. In the study, 36 men & women (average age 65) were given doses of either Advil, Tylenol, or a placebo. All the pills were made to look the same and neither the participants or the scientists knew who had what pills.

They were then given a weight lifting training program which they followed for three months. Muscle changes were then measured using an MRI. They found that the ones taking the placebo had much less improvement than the ones taking either the ibuprofen or the acetaminophen.

Would this work for jogglers?

Certainly, building muscle mass and strength is a benefit for runners and jogglers too. So, there may be some benefit to taking a few of these pills during the tough part of your training. I know I’m not much of a pill popper but if this could really improve the effectiveness of my training, maybe I should. According to this discussion at Runner’s World, there are many marathon runners who swear by the use of pain killers prior to, during and after races.

It’ll definitely be a thing to consider during training for the next marathon.

How do you feel about taking pain killers during training or racing?

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. interesting find. the study sample size and average age seems too small and high resp. to tell me anything. i would probably wait until a larger range and size study is conducted. but if u try it and it works for u then let us know. also, good luck in the london marathon coming up!

  2. Interesting find, and good news for me, anything over 8 miles I pop at least 3 ibprofen. I don’t know what it does for my muscle mass but I know I can tell when they wear off! I’m a big proponent!

  3. I work in this lab … keep in mind that these results are not PUBLISHED yet. And also that this effect cannot be extrapolated to a different age range (such as most of the readers of this blog … haha)

    Way to keep up on the research though!!

  4. Your body communicates when it is in pain. Covering it up with pain killers will lead to injury. Long term health and running is an up and down motion; not this straight line to the top. Listen to your body and adjust your routine.

  5. Lisa, thanks for checking in. That’s a good point on not extrapolating. The headlines we see in the media often distort that message.

    Joul, good point but I’m not sure that covering pain will definitely lead to injury.

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