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beyond NSAIDs

June 9, 2010

Whether you’re coming back from Nationals or getting ready for the Club season, chances are you’ve got some NSAIDs–“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs”–in your disc bag, or perhaps in your stomach as we speak!

And while it makes sense to ask your MD about appropriate use of NSAIDs, and work with well-trained physiotherapists (physical therapists) and other movement coaches, it’s also worth learning more about the dangers and benefits of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Some fraction of Ultimate players rely on Ibuprofen (“Ibu”) to get themselves running for practice, but it’s worth at least pondering the long-term impacts of having to take 200+ mg of Ibu before playing any game. Last year, the NYTimes PhysEd section had an article on Ibu, does it Help or Hurt During Exercise?

It seems there’s still fire in this debate but perhaps it makes sense to balance between eating Ibu like candy (“Vitamin I”) and avoiding it completely. As Dr. Warden reminds us in the article,

“When you have inflammation and pain from an acute injury… NSAIDs are very effective.” But to take them “before every workout or match is a mistake.”

But what of taking them quasi-regularly after tournament games (end of day)? And what do you do if, like some Ultimate players and many runners, you’re “injured” in some fashion more often than you’d care to admit?

There don’t seem to be easy answers here, but I think it’s worth pulling back a bit and remembering that inflammation isn’t just caused by micro/macrotrauma in the sports injury/overuse sense, but that food choices modulate or increase inflammation. So even if you aren’t feeling inflamed now, it’s still worth thinking about how to reduce your systemic level of inflammation, so to speak.

In a recent video segment, Dr. John Berardi talks a bit about Body Fuel: Reduce Pain and Injury and I recommend you watch the short clip and take to heart whatever advice speaks to you. I’ll echo Dan John and Dr. Berardi and a whole slew of health researchers that expound on the benefits of fish oil, and recommend taking fish oil supplements at every meal. (That’s actually more progressive [6-10g per day] than some, but I think I’d rather have my athletes taking 1-2 fish oil tablets at every meal than 200mg Ibu before every practice, but that’s just me…).

Dr. Berardi also talks about the anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric and a few other compounds. Personally I’ve been trying out Zyflamend, a supplement which contains Turmeric, Basil, Green Tea compounds, and so on, which has worked well for me but haven’t been able to dig up strong yay / nay / hurray opinions on this product yet.

In some, if you’re on Vitamin I, I hope you take a little look at your diet first, and secondarily, strongly consider you include fish oil supplementation in your training program. Heart and Mind health? How’s that for an Ultimate player Training win/win.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 4:36 am

    Have you looked at or heard about the Zone diet from Dr. Barry Sears? The diet more or less revolves around reducing inflammation. Also, he is a big proponent of fish oil (in doses even higher than you alluded to here). Here are a couple excerpts from his lectures, found on the CrossFit site (the CrossFit community has really embraced this diet):

    http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFitJournal_DrSearsFishOil1Pre.mov
    http://media.crossfit.com/cf-video/CrossFitJournal_DrBarrySearsZone3Pre.mov

    • Leslie Wu permalink
      June 20, 2010 5:36 pm

      Yep–some years ago, my overweight-doctor-at-the-time recommended I check it out.

      I think the Zone diet is better than nothing, but I would personally recommend the Precision Nutrition program these days over the Zone diet.

      Why? The Zone diet focuses, IIRC, on balancing your macronutrients in a certain way.

      As Dr. John Berardi points out, most people need to focus on eating real food and eating higher quality food (more vegetables, lean protein at every meal, etc), whereas macronutrient ratios are a bit more advanced:

      http://www.precisionnutrition.com/members/showthread.php?t=8458

      I also don’t remember if the Zone diet talks about tailoring your “Zones” based on your body type (ecto / endo / meso), but it’s been a while since I read it.

      (Some research on Zone vs other diets for weight loss:
      http://www.precisionnutrition.com/members/showthread.php?t=5589)

      Basically I think I’m a lot more comfortable recommending a system, not just a book by a single author, backed up by a group of dedicated and well-educated / diverse individuals that are also athletes themselves. That’s what Precision Nutrition (PN) is, and I found it was better on the coaching / pragmatic front too, given the online community / coaching guides.

      Full disclosure I am one of the first 100 people in the PN nutrition coach certification program (hopefully will finish by end of summer) but I don’t receive any money from them =)

      Check out the board/staff at PN, I think it’s pretty impressive:

      http://www.precisionnutrition.com/about/

    • Leslie Wu permalink
      June 20, 2010 5:57 pm

      @Charlie Good videos =)

      I definitely like the term SAD to determine how most Americans eat–the “Standard American Diet”!

      As for carbs, my current sense is that how much you eat perhaps should be a function of
      (a) your body type — http://www.precisionnutrition.com/members/showthread.php?t=8458
      and
      (b) how much exercise you get

      Watching the second video now, where Dr. Sears reminds us that’s it’s not about weight loss, but about reduced inflammation, amen (at least for athletes that are healthy-weight). But also that there’s no exact zone for everyone (which is maybe what he said in the book, it’s been a while).

      I do like the way he talks about responding to your body, having a dialogue with it. I might be partnering with a start-up around here to help diabetics, I think there’s good space to have tech tools which makes it easier for folks to track this sort of thing.

      For Ultimate athletes, many of whom are ectomorphic? high carb diet in the short term can be useful for increasing endurance for long events (3 day tourney?) but it’s not something you’re eating all year round.

      Interesting stuff though, thanks @charlie =)

    • June 21, 2010 4:16 am

      I’ll definitely check our this precision nutrition stuff, very cool. Thanks.

  2. June 22, 2010 7:35 am

    Also, to touch on the Ibuprofen issue- there are studies that indicate that there are significant negative impacts from it on the healing process: http://www.caringmedical.com/sports_injury/nsaids.asp
    http://www.shortnews.com/start.cfm?id=55745

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