Since then I’ve had a love-hate relationship with over-the-counter painkillers, which is why I read with deep interest a recent entry on the New York Times’ Well blog about whether NSAIDs, particularly ibuprofen, actually do more harm than good – at least on really, really long runs.
In one experiment, researchers monitored Western States runners separated by those who took ibuprofen and those who didn't.
Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories. The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream.
Not only did consuming “Vitamin I” cause these ill side effects, but it apparently had little to no difference on pain. And, according to the post, it actually increased the risk of injury. Scientists involved in these studies recommend you take painkillers only when you suffer acute pain.