Exercise Increases Collagen; Ibuprofen Inhibits This Effect
Several new studies examining long-distance runners’ habits of popping non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen) are finding that the practice is preventing the growth of new collagen, and thus inhibiting their ability to rebuild new tissue.
Professor Stuart Warden, Director of Physical Therapy Research at Indiana University, informed the New York Times last week that “the stresses of exercise activate a particular molecular pathway that increases collagen,” which leads to stronger connective tissues in the dermis, and thus, fewer wrinkles and younger-looking skin.
However, taking ibuprofen reduces the positive effects of exercise on collagen.
“NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, substances that are involved in pain and also in the creation of collagen,” Warden says. “Collagen is the building block of most tissues. So fewer prostaglandins mean less collagen, which inhibits the healing of tissue and bone injuries.”
The studies were meant to scrutinize the common practice of marathon runners taking ibuprofen in order to reduce muscle soreness and pain after a run, and found that in fact, it can actually increase soreness and pain.
Professor Warden advises that the only time anti-inflammatory painkillers are justified is “when you have inflammation and pain from an acute injury. But to take them before every workout or match is a mistake.”