Pill Poppin’ Athletes Relieve Pain Not Problems

By: Connor Rowe

-Tough practice

-Not getting proper sleep

-Waking up early for school feeling tired and sore

-Sitting in a chair all day at school

-Seven hours later, school’s over

-Now it’s Friday night and it’s game time… Are you ready?

Many athletes face these conditions and worry they aren’t ready. Their bodies may be aching from earlier games and practices that week and they turn to their pre-game best friend, Advil. But what they may not know is that they may be damaging their bodies with excessive ibuprofen rather than helping themselves.

“I’d take four before a game, it made me less sore,” one senior varsity athlete said.

“I have to take four because I feel like I’m immune to two because I’ve been taking it for so long,” a junior at Penn Manor said.

Photo courtesy of www.smackbomb.com

Even one Penn Manor administrator, a former athlete, said, “In college I used to pop 15 a day.”

It’s an accepted practice among many athletes on teams at Penn Manor to take the over-the-counter painkillers before the game, not just after.  Advil, Aleve and ibuprofen are among the painkillers taken BEFORE they play and also before they feel any aches, pains or stiffness associated.

(Although the people interviewed for this story gave their names, their identities are being withheld because most coaches said they were unaware of this common practice.)

“I have to take two Advil and two ibuprofen before a game. If I only took two I wouldn’t feel as good,” a senior baseball star said.

Are these athletes really feeling better after the medication?  Is it a placebo making them think they feel better?  Is it actually causing more problems than it’s solving?

The truth is, these athletes say they are actually feeling better after taking these relievers, but that’s not necessarily true. The problem is that if athletes feel really sore, some think they need triple or quadruple the actual amount of the preferred dose when this in fact is not the case.

The 2010 edition of the Physicians’ Desk Reference  strongly warns patients not to take more than the recommended dose, not to exceed use for more than 10 days unless directed by a physician and to use the smallest effective dose. One of the many side effects of taking ibuprofen is a severe allergic reaction.

Another problem with athletes taking these medications, according to the same source, is that the pills may raise blood pressure during the contest or event which could easily affect players’ ability.

And there can be even more severe results of taking too much ibuprofen.

image courtesy of http://www.generics.name/aleve.html

According to research institutes, Ibuprofen overdose damages your internal organs like the liver. While in some cases it has been reported that it has result in a permanent liver damage, in other cases where the victim was taking the dose for a long and continued period it has resulted in organ failure one by one.

Second question is, are these athletes aware of the negative effects?

The responses from athletes were much the same.

“I didn’t think so. I always felt fine and have been taking them all my life,”  said one.

“I just do it,” said another.


“I just take it during the season.”

It’s not clear whether coaches are aware of the extent of this practice.

Dave Hess, track and field coach, said, “I didn’t know any athletes took them. I wouldn’t think of any athletes doing that.”

Athletic director, Jeff Roth, said, “I’ve never heard of it.”

Final question, Did you know that many athletes are taking 4 ibuprofen before participating?

Coach Hess followed with, “WHAT?”

Mr. Roth said, “I can’t believe that.. They’re just not in shape!”

2 thoughts on “Pill Poppin’ Athletes Relieve Pain Not Problems”

  1. How are the coaches unaware of this? All athletes I know pop advil like it’s candy. It’s pretty common knowledge…

  2. My Coach asks me for Advil, he is aware of it, I usually take 4 before a game and I take it so my blood is thinner an it flows better, also if I get hurt it won’t hurt as bad.

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