NSAIDs do not prevent exercise-induced performance deficits or alleviate muscle soreness: A placebo-controlled randomized, double-blinded, cross-over study

Roberts, B. M., Sczuroski, C. E., Caldwell, A. R., Zeppetelli, D. J., Smith, N. I., Pecorelli, V. P., Gwin, J. A., Hughes, J. M. & Staab, J. S.

J. Sci. Med. Sport 27, 287–292 (2024).

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are frequently consumed by athletes to manage muscle soreness, expedite recovery, or improve performance.

Despite the prevalence of NSAID use, their effects on muscle soreness and performance, particularly when administered prophylactically, remain unclear.

This randomized, double-blind, counter-balanced, crossover study examined the effect of consuming a single dose of each of three NSAIDs (celecoxib, 200 mg; ibuprofen, 800 mg; flurbiprofen, 100 mg) or placebo 2 h before on muscle soreness and performance following an acute plyometric training session.

Twelve healthy adults, aged 18–42 years, completed a standardized plyometric exercise session consisting of 10 sets of 10 repetitions at 40 % 1-repetition maximum (1RM) on a leg press device. During exercise, total work, rating of perceived exertion, and heart rate were measured.

Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVC), vertical jump height, and muscle soreness were measured before exercise and 4-h and 24-h post-exercise. We found no significant differences in total work, heart rate, or rating of perceived exertion between treatments. Additionally, no significant differences in muscle soreness or vertical jump were observed between treatments.

Ibuprofen and flurbiprofen did not prevent decrements in MVC, but celecoxib attenuated decreases in MVC 4-h post exercise (p < 0.05). This study suggests that athletes may not benefit from prophylactic ibuprofen or flurbiprofen treatment to prevent discomfort or performance decrements associated with exercise, but celecoxib may mitigate short-term performance decrements.