Advil and Ultras

We've all been there. You ran a little too far, ran on tired legs, wore heels for too long after a long run. Nothing a few Advil can't fix, right?

It's becoming more and more common to reach for the Advil when something hurts, especially during marathon training. But for those of us running long distances, what are we doing to our body’s ability to recover?

Advil, also known as Ibuprofen, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or NSAID. They work in part by blocking the body’s production of a chemical called prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is typically released to an injury site, resulting in pain and inflammation. It also causes blood vessels to widen, allowing increased blood flow to the injured area.

Taking an NSAID decreases your body's natural response to injury and can result in less inflammation and dilation of blood vessels. A recent study examined creatinine levels of ultra marathoners following a 50 mile race. Creatinine is a byproduct of the kidney's filtering process and higher levels are indicative of kidney injury. One group took Ibuprofen every four hours and the other group took a placebo. The study found that those who took Ibuprofen had higher levels of Creatinine compared to those who didn't. Although this was a small sample size, the results indicate that Ibuprofen combined with high levels of endurance training can be detrimental to kidney function.

So before you reach for that Advil, try sticking your sore body part in a bucket of ice! Your kidneys will thank you!


Lisbeth Hoyt, PT, DPT