Non- steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs do exactly what they say on the tin, they reduce inflammation. And as many of you will know, inflammation is key to muscle growth and size. A process known as supercompensation invokes physiological development (particularly muscular growth) in response to strain and acute inflammation in the muscle. Supercompensation means muscle protein synthesis is significantly increased in order to repair the damaged muscle tissue. Once the body endures physical stress in the muscle, it adapts and recovers the muscle above and beyond its condition prior to training, this is to prepare the muscle for occasions when it may be placed under similar amounts of strain. So it’s well accepted that muscle strain and inflammation (within reason) is key to invoking growth and development, without it there would be no stimulus for growth. However, inflammation of a different kind can prove problematic…
Anti- inflammatory drugs and muscle development
There were times when bodybuilders took anti- inflammatory drugs as often as they took their protein shake, these days the ol’ faithful NSAID is only used when it’s absolutely needed. The reason for this is two- fold 1.) Anti- inflammatory drugs can damage the lining of the stomach if consumed on a regular basis (and on an empty stomach), and 2.) Recent evidence suggests that anti- inflammatory drugs can actually blunt muscular growth and development!
Several studies have focussed on inflammation and muscular development, and has shown that anti- inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen (or the likes of) can significantly slow, and potentially stunt muscular growth.
So if anti- inflammatory drugs can reduce inflammation, then the chances of your muscles reaching that anabolic (growth) threshold is markedly reduced. Anti- inflammatory drugs have their place, a joint pain or swollen area in the body may profoundly benefit from reduced inflammation caused by anti- inflams. However, persistent use of these drugs appears to be counter intuitive to gaining lean mass, so like with anything do it in a structured and deliberate manner. The thing with injury is that if you can’t train due to the ailment, then chances are you’re going to lose a little bit of muscle mass anyway, so if you want to alleviate joint inflammation (for example) when injured then do so, it’ll reduce inflammation and increase your rate of recovery. Should you decide to consume them on a daily basis, expect to see plateaus in your gains, and be prepared to suffer with some stomach troubles!