Monday, April 7, 2008

Wham: Over-the-Counter Pain Medications Increase Muscle Mass and Strength

It's recently been reported by scientists at Ball State University that Ibuprofen or acetaminophen in long-term resistance training increases muscle mass and strength. This will be of great interest to anyone seeking better workouts, although the research was conducted in older adults.

It seems that taking daily recommended dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen caused a substantially greater increase over placebo in the amount of quadriceps muscle mass and muscle strength gained during three months of regular weight lifting. Dr. Chad Carroll, a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Todd Trappe at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University reported these study results at Experimental Biology 2008 in San Diego on April 6th.

Thirty-six men and women, between 60 and 78 years of age (average age 65), were randomly assigned to daily dosages of either ibuprofen (such as that in Advil), acetaminophen (such as that in Tylenol), or a placebo. The dosages were identical to those recommended by the manufacturers and were selected to most closely mimic what chronic users of these medicines were likely to be taking. Neither the volunteers nor the scientists knew who was receiving which treatment until the end of the study.

The weight training consisted of 15-20 minute sessions conducted in the Human Performance Laboratory three times per week. The researchers were surprised to find that the groups using either ibuprofen or acetaminophen did even better than the normal, expected increases from these workouts. The chronic consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have induced intramuscular changes that enhance the metabolic response to resistance exercise, allowing the body to add substantially more new protein to muscle.

The amount of change was measured in quadricep muscles using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the gold standard for determining muscle mass.


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