Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 65 & Up – Backpacker

I’m reblogging today’s Twitter feed from Backpacker magazine.  Granted, it might have a bit limited an appeal, given that it targets us greying hikers.  While I agree with the majority of the points covered, the article contains one glaring piece of medical misinformation, bad advice that should probably be edited out.

It has to do with point E:

Joints/cartilage/back Wear-and-tear decreases padding in the joints and back, leading to stiffness and pain when hiking. The fix: “Moving a joint loosens it,” Lynn Millar says. At home, guide stiff joints through their full range of motion (arm swings for shoulders; squats for knees) 5 times per day. On the trail, repeat movements in the morning, at rest breaks, and in the evening. Pop 400 milligrams of anti-inflammatories 3 times per day.

I’m not going to Pop 400 milligrams of anti-inflammatories 3 times per day !

I didn’t swill Ibuprofen last June while hiking a month in Portugal, and I didn’t down bottles of the stuff on my 2013 CDT thru-hike.  Even though I have a history of  inflammation that eventually resulted in surgery on both my knees for cartilage tears, and have undergone two shoulder surgeries for arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis I rarely dose my discomfort with anti-inflammatories.

If you Google for side effects of anti-inflammatories, you will get specific warnings to be prudent about the use of “Vitamin I”, as it is erroneously dubbed by long distance hikers.

Here a quick read from Outside magazine (2014):  The Cure for Sore Muscles? More Movement.Throw away your ice packs and ibuprofen if you want to recover right.

In the past three years, there has been increasing evidence of the real damage that can be done with overuse of ibuprofen.  From Outside: “Chronic ibuprofen users have some cell damage in their intestines, especially their colon,” says Dr. David Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University and author of several studies on ibuprofen use in endurance athletes. “That allows bacteria to escape in small amounts into the blood stream,” augmenting the inflammatory response.

Source: Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 65 & Up – Backpacker:

For Athletes, Risks From Ibuprofen Use

The Times just  put a big kabosh on a ritual that many thru-hikers consider an essential part of the thru-hiking experience.

Some typical statements from trail journals-   ” We carried Ibuprofen, but considered it more of an essential nutrient than first aid, ” and “Carried and ate large amounts of Ibuprofen ( like sweeties)”.

I myself have been guilty of gulping the stuff on my 200 AT thru hike.  But no more.

For Athletes, Risks From Ibuprofen Use – NYTimes.com.–< click it and weep (or get ready to suck it up and ache).

(I last wrote about Ibuprofen in September of 2009)

Does Advil Hurt Healing?

BOTTOM LINE: If you can live without it, maybe you should.

In November of 2006 I had right side shoulder surgery.  The left one had been trimmed, reamed, and cleaned a long time before that.  I was fortunate enough to get in with Don Endrezzi, MD who was a consummate professional at every stage of the procedures.  After going in and working on it, Endrizzi told me that my shoulder looked identical to those that he does on 80 year olds that he recommends for replacement surgery.  He gave me 5 to 8 years before my time would be up, and it’s been 7 years, but I have taken it easy on the shoulder since then.  No bench presses of 300 pounds, no overhead presses, or dumbell extensions either.

At the time I was downing daily doses of ibuprofen, or Vitamin-I, to relieve the chronic shoulder pain that was bad enough that I’d sometimes wake up out of a sound sleep.  Dr. Endrizzi counseled me to change my ways, or else.  He told me back then that ibuprofen was never meant to be consumed in the way that I was doing it.  He told me that if I were to engage in significant shoulder activity, like working over my head with arms extended, that I could take 600 milligrams before I started working the shoulder , and treat it again through the next day, but to stop taking it on a frequent basis, due to the possible side effects of ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. Dr. Endrizzi told me these complications can occur at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk is higher for people who take ibuprofen for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, or who drink three or more alcoholic drinks per day while taking ibuprofen.

Dr. Endrizzi gave it to me straight, ” Learn to live with low grade pain, and you will be healthier for it.  The pain is there for a reason.  It means back off.”

Now there is more.  Check out the Outside Magazine article below that refers to a second level of Stop signs to potential bleeds, or outright ulcers. Research suggests that the drug’s potential to negatively influence repair outweighs any beneficial effects it might offer.

Two strikes is enough for me.  If I step up to the plate and chance another home run, I may be out for the Big Season.

Does Advil Hurt Healing? | Fitness Coach | OutsideOnline.com.

Ibuprofen: This is not a vitamin I experience !

Does Ibuprofen Help or Hurt During Exercise?
By Gretchen Reynolds

Many thru-hikers down a daily dosage of ” Vitamin-I” . I have been much more sparing in using Ibuprofen after my orthopedist warned me about the negative effects of frequent dosage of this so-called antiflammatory and painkiller. Here’s the research which explains why:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/phys-ed-does-ibuprofen-help-or-hurt-during-exercise/
Bottom line is just ” suck it up” and “party on” out there.