Does NSAIDs have a negative impact on muscle growth?

From the BluePrint Power Hour


My question today is with respect to the use of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen for managing moderate pain due to training. For years, I’ve avoided using any type of NSAIDs because I read once that their use impairs muscle hypertrophy. As I’m older now, and lifting heavier than I ever have, I sometimes experience lower back pain and have recently thought about reconsidering my avoidance of these drugs to alleviate the pain from training. Can you offer some insight on whether or not their use does in fact have a negative impact on muscle growth?

Also, I’ve recently ordered a tub of Phoenix Kinetacream and hope that once I receive it, it will do the trick. In the meantime, I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts on NSAIDs.

Thanks as always and keep up the great work on SHR and the BPPH.

– Joe N.


You’re correct insofar as there’s research showing both ibuprofen and acetomeniphen depress protein synthesis, but the devil is in the details. In one study, a group of men with an average age of 25 were assigned to one of three groups. All groups performed 10-14 sets of 10 eccentric leg extensions. After completing the workout, group one received the maximal over-the-counter dose of ibuprofen (1200 milligrams daily). Group two was given acetaminophen (4000 milligrams daily). The third group received a placebo. When muscle samples were analyzed 24 hours after exercise, the increased rate of muscle protein synthesis normally seen after resistance exercise was reduced in subjects given the pain killers.

A follow-up study, this time lasting three months, showed that a daily dose of pain killers actually ACCELERATES gains in both muscle size and strength. Researchers tracked 36 men and women between the ages of 60 and 78. Subjects were randomly divided into an acetaminophen group, an ibuprofen group or a placebo group. The two drugs were consumed at recommended daily dosage levels. To everyone’s surprise, an analysis of muscle tissue samples taken before and after training revealed that those taking the pain killers gained more muscle mass than the placebo group.

My take: The people taking part in the study were in their sixties and seventies. We can’t assume that the results will apply to younger people in their twenties, thirties and forties. Finally, elderly people will often suffer from age-related aches and pains. The pain killers may have simply allowed them to train harder during each workout, which may well have contributed to the gains seen in size and strength.

The last study to consider comes from a group of Canadian researchers who examined the impact of a more moderate dose of ibuprofen (400 milligrams per day) on gains in muscle size and strength. Twelve men and 6 women (approximately 24 years of age) trained their right and left biceps on alternate days (6 sets of 4-10 repetitions), 5 days a week for 6 weeks. They received a daily dose of 400 milligrams of ibuprofen immediately after training their left or right arm, and a placebo after training the opposite arm the following day.

The ibuprofen neither helped nor hindered muscle growth. I dunno about the average person listening, but I see no great impact on growth either way in the real world. I do see lots of downsides, in terms of liver stress and toxicity, interfereing with your body’s natural feedback loops, etc.


This is a shameless plug, but Mass Pro Synthagen has been heralded by more than a few as working minor miracles on injuries. Recall 67 year old Randy Mordhorst we had on the show? 3 days and he was springing out of bed and ready to hit it hard, daily. I still hear from him. I think you’ll be surprised at how well Phoenix Kineticream works for you. My BP Bulletin subscribers that’ve taken the plunge absolutely rave about it. SuperCissus is another excellent option in terms of supplementation.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention chiropractic in an effort to solve the root cause of the problem. As someone who occassionally incurs subluxations of L4/L5 and other injuries, I can tell you for a fact that the right chiropractor is the best medicine, insofar truly fixing things.

From The BluePrint Power Hour (April. 13, 2013)

Coach Rob Regish

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