Each and every time we head for a workout (gym or otherwise), we want to make improvements. I don’t know too many people working out who aren’t trying on some level to get better, whether it be a better physique, better health or better performance in a sport. Better muscle = Better physique, better health and better performance! Therefore, at least some of your workout time is dedicated to developing muscle, even if you don’t think so. Even those who never lift a weight and focus on cardio training are developing some level of muscle efficiency, even if not a larger muscle. So to recap, if you’re training in the gym or in a sport, you NEED better muscle. With this in mind, I wanted to explain why one of the things you may be doing very often can be absolutely sabotaging your muscular improvement.
First, let’s have a short lesson on muscle physiology. Anytime we subject our body to intense training, we are actually inducing a level of trauma to the muscle. While this sounds like a bad thing, I promise you it’s good for improvement. This damage then activates parts of the muscle cell called “organelles” to activate “satellite cells” located on the outer part of the muscle cell membrane. The satellite cells then head on over to the site of muscle damage, where they work on repairing. Often, the satellite cells fuse together, causing a certain level of cellular growth, which is called hypertrophy. They can then further increase muscle cell cross sectional area by differentiating (turning) into myofibrils and create new nuclei. The end result of a few more complex processes is that the muscle becomes more effective at contracting and further repairing, thus making a stronger and more efficient muscle! The take home message is that satellite cells are pretty important in muscle repair, recovery and improvement!
So what are you doing that is messing with this process? It’s your pain reliever. The typical way that athletes deal with pain is to pop a few Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. Why is this a problem? The satellite cell pathway described above relies on the presence of growth factors. One of the growth factors are inflammatory prostaglandins. NSAIDS like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen inhibit the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme and therefore inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. Other studies have shown that the COX-1 and COX-2 pathways are specifically related to satellite cell activity. Bottom line, those little pills you take are NOT helping you recover. They may dull some pain, but don’t count on them helping you become a better athlete. In fact, they may indeed DESTROY your otherwise good results!
What should you do then? Fantastic alternatives to NSAIDs for pain relief are some of the things I often talk about.
- Massage Therapy: This can help bring additional oxygen to the muscles and stimulate the removal of the chemicals believed to cause Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
- Graston Technique: This technique used by chiropractors, physical therapists and other body-work specialists uses metal tools to mobilize soft tissue and minimize new and existing scar tissue formation. While official “Graston” tools are only available to professionals, a brand new instrument called “Muscle Restoration” has recently been released that can be used for home use. For more information, contact me at email@example.com and I will forward your information onto the manufacturer.
- Chiropractic Care: By influencing the range of motion of the joints, chiropractors allow the body to function at it’s peak potential. The joints of the spine are known to directly affect the nervous system and therefore will affect pain levels. Most top level athletes (Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice, Jay Cutler, etc…) see their chiropractor at least a couple times per month!
- Topical Pain Reliever: Phoenix KinetiCream is a topical pain reliever that has ingredients that are known to produce anti-inflammatory effects. The ingredients are shuttled into the joints via transdermal carriers. Why is this not the same problem as the NSAIDs? Because by using a topical, you are able to target the joint rather than using a systemic drug that doesn’t discriminate joint from muscle. I do not recommend using KinetiCream on the muscles shortly after a workout. If you do want to use it on a sore muscle, wait for 24 hours. This way, the prostaglandin activity will have already taken place and the muscle cell repair process will not be interfered with.
Hopefully, you guys and girls will take this info into consideration the next time you reach to the cupboard for that “quick fix” for pain. I didn’t touch on the negative side effects to the liver, kidneys or stomach that NSAIDs are known to have, but if your goal of training is improvement, do I really need to?
If you are interested in getting more information about improving muscle function, please sign up for my newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Also, don’t forget to follow me on my Twitter accounts, @craigbanks66, @phoenixbioperf and @pinnaclechiro. Facebook is facebook.com/pinnaclechiro and facebook.com/phoenixkineticream
References (A couple of many):
Local NSAID infusion inhibits satellite cell proliferation in human skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise: Journal of Applied Physiology November 1, 2009 vol. 107 no. 5 1600-1611