I’m turning 36 in two weeks (yay birthdays!), and one thing that has been on my mind for the last 2 weeks is pain. Specifically, two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. Then last night I got back on the mats and was paired up with 3 white belts. Two had been in BJJ for less than 2 weeks, and one is an older guy who is likely due for a promotion of some kind. The two white belt guys were young – maybe 20, and honestly, when you don’t have (much) technique you use what resources you have – which in their cases were strength and energy. Oy vey. I was sincerely exhausted by the end of the night, and this morning I am feeling serious muscle aches.

So what do I do? In the past I used to take advil or ibuprofen or any other pills in a bottle. Hey – anti-inflammatories are for inflammation, right? So I did end up taking two NSAIDs one day after spraining my ankle. Then I started coming across articles like these:

Get Off Ibuprofen, People! This was the first article I read about that. The main idea of the article: “Taking an anti-inflammatory drug of any kind makes tendons and ligaments weaker, and stops muscles from getting stronger.” Whoa. That sucks. It went on to say “NSAIDs have been shown to delay and hamper the healing in all the soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Anti-inflammatories can delay healing and delay it significantly, even in muscles with their tremendous blood supply” I DO NOT LIKE THAT! I immediately regretted taking those stupid Ibuprofen.

Okay, that was just some Crossfit blog. What does the science say? Oh – that there is mounting evidence that NSAIDs impairs bone healing.

I then came across this article – a runner’s wiki. This one cited several credible articles, including from nih.com and from sports journals. In it it mentions “Another study on muscle damage and NSAIDs showed impaired recovery in the early stages of healing.” It does suggest that if you feel the need to take some pills, that acetaminophen is better than ibuprofen.

Here’s a sciency article about sports injuries and NSAIDs. It includes some fancy pictures and charts, so clearly they know what they’re talking about (he he he I kid I kid). It references 22 different articles, and looks sound as far as that goes. I don’t trust articles that claim science things and don’t cite their sources – like the first crossfit journal.

So what is a girl in pain supposed to do?

The way I figure it, I have a few options:

1. Suck it up. Just sit tight and deal. Enjoy the fact that your muscles hurt because you’re freaking using them (okay, that’s for post-workout pain, not really sprained ankle pain).

Ahahaha Thanks to Fitocracy for pointing this out to me

2. Ice. I did use my ice packs a number of times on my ankle.

3. Massage/stretching. I’ve gotten to where I like this feeling of stretching it out and even using my foam roller to squish out the pain!

4. Time off. Not forever – but on super achy days, I will just rest. Also, my cat really likes this option.

5. Fish oil. This stuff is perfect for everything!

6. Sauna/hot tubs. I freaking love heat for muscle aches.

I think I have just gotten used to having aches and pains. Aside from my herniated disc, I really haven’t been in SO MUCH PAIN that I really need pills. I think that in general, our society has tricked us into thinking that OMG ANY PAIN IS INTOLERABLE! MUST TAKE PILLS NOW! And I’m not okay with that any more.

What are your thoughts on pain management? What do you do? Are you taking (gasp) ibuprofen for pain? If so, did this at all make you rethink it?