A More Holistic Approach

Posted: January 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

As mileage increases so do aches and pains in joints and muscles.  Many runners seek instant relief from pain and swelling through NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).  The following are an example of NSAIDS: Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, Motrin and Aspirin.  While there are minor benefits to using NSAIDS when following the recommended dosage, the inherit risk related to their chronic use entirely outweighs their benefits.

Many runners experiencing temporary relief from NSAIDS feel that taking more can provide greater relief.  This approach can literally raise the risk of a heart attack because NSAIDS can block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase that normally protects the heart.  An additional risk to runners training for a marathon is the dangerous combination of NSAIDS, dehydration and overexertion; all aspects of marathon training.  These collective challenges can push the kidneys into the danger zone.  Recent research has concluded that NSAIDS can actually inhibit the bodies natural anti-inflammatory response.

I recommend a much more holistic approach.  While aches and pains are an inevitable part of marathon training, the healthier approach to reducing pain and swelling can be achieved through proper nutrition, ice baths and a regular post-run icing routine, rest and cross training.  The following foods contain natural anti-inflammatory agents: pineapple, papaya, wild Alaskan salmon, shiitake mushrooms, blueberries, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

So before you seek instant relief from NSAIDS, consider adopting a more holistic and healthier approach by relying more on rest, icing, cross-training and proper nutrition!

  1. Erik says:

    Another helpful tip, thanks Coach!

    So actually went running in the snow this morning?

  2. Erik,

    I’m glad that you were able to run in the snow this morning. Fortunately I was on the last flight out of Baltimore last night and now I’m enjoying 70 degree weather in Phoenix.

  3. Erik says:

    Color me jealous. Good luck in your race this weekend!

  4. Mark Duffield says:

    I stopped taking advil and other NSAIDS many years ago and I haven’t looked back. Let’s face it: ice baths SUCK, but they are effective and I try to do them for all runs of 18 miles and longer. Foam rollers and other self-massage techniques help as well. Get the blood flowing, and get your body to process its own waste products.

    Here is a link to an anti-inflammatory diet. The dietician who put this together is a friend of a friend. This friend of mine (Alan) is in a battle with lung cancer, and is seeing good results following this diet (along with the other treatments that he is enduring). Alan is the healthiest sick person I have ever known. I’m motivated to incorporate some of the 10 steps listed in the article. I’m not ready to give up coffee or red wine just yet, but I may get there.


    Rick, have a great race.


  5. Cheryl says:

    I can’t say enough how much I agree with this, Rick! When I first started long-distance running, I would take these meds to deal with pain. As it turned out, I was only masking pain temporarily, and, eventually, still had to deal with the injuries. After more experience and a little more education on my body, injuries, and pain management, I pretty much never take pain meds anymore. I have come to learn that rest, massage, yoga, and NOT overdoing things are way more effective!

    Hope you have a great race this weekend! Would love to be there, too and out of this snow.

  6. Hello Cheryl,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You’ve certainly lerned to manage this aspect of your training extremely well. I am becoming much more intrigued by yoga, the comments I receive from yoga practitioners is entirely positive.


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