Anti-Inflammatory Meds and Muscle Growth

NOTE: This was originally written for Oxygen Mag digital version.

There has been a heated debate over many years within the bodybuilding community about whether anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium hinder muscle growth. These medications inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, which also play a role in muscle synthesis. All it took was one clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism to put bodybuilders into a panic about reduced protein synthesis, and it didn’t matter that such results were found in laboratory rats. While there is some evidence to suggest that the anabolic signal is shut off when anti-inflammatories circulate in the bloodstream, nothing is absolutely conclusive, and what might be seen in the rat model might not necessarily be the case for humans.

While I will never advocate chronic use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents, I think they definitely serve a purpose when acute injury is present. When I find myself in the middle of disputes with bodybuilders who INSIST that a few days on such medications will completely destroy all their efforts in the gym, I simply shake my head in frustration. If you are injured and your lifting is adversely affected by the injury, whether it be a muscle strain, a ligament tear, or a minor disc herniation, you need to be aware that training through that injury, especially when it deranges your form and causes other body parts to compensate for the injury, will end up really messing you up over time. I honestly think that a minimal decrease in muscle mass over the course of a few days is preferable to the imbalance and asymmetry which usually occur when a bodybuilder foolishly pushes through heavy workouts despite an injury which has a domino effect on the body.

Common sense, and medical expertise, dictate that the inflammation must be removed from the area, most commonly through short term administration of anti-inflammatory agents, ice, and rest. Trust me, if you follow a regimen like this, you won’t lose all the muscle you have built over the years. Be sure to take these medications with food, and if you have any history of gastric ulcers. bleeding disorders, or kidney dysfunction, avoid taking them.

Remember that I am talking about DAYS, not weeks or months. This is one time when eating constantly has its benefits, since bodybuilders and fitness people can pretty easily fit in their medication administration with one of their meals. I know it’s difficult to back off from training, but if you truly want to HEAL, you must give the injured area time to repair itself. If you insist on continuing to train through the injury, especially, without any medications or other interventions on board, you can count on the injury either lingering or worsening over time.

Valentine’s Day: A Money-Maker

valentines-day-TWOBITS

Valentine’s Day is one of the most retail-driven events in the United States, and for good reason. Savvy business owners have figured out how to capitalize on desperate men everywhere who want to please their women. The women, in turn, have been heavily influenced by clever advertising. Most women know about Jared (no, he isn’t the neighbor two doors down), and the Robbins Brothers have also exerted a powerful influence on the fantasies of ladies everywhere.

However, it seems like more and more couples have become aware of the fact that the big day of love is filled with hype and commercialism. After all, it’s supposed to be about the love, lust, or shared interest between two people, isn’t it? However, I still think a fella can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (I know I love them!) for his lovely lady. If he wants to go the extra mile, he can get a nice trinket of jewelry (no, it doesn’t have to be diamonds), a stuffed teddy bear (if she’s into that kind of thing), or a sexy undergarment from Victoria’s Secret, but those are very predictable gifts on Valentine’s Day.

Then there are the chocolates and candy hearts. Heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates have become increasingly more dreaded, since more ladies than ever are concerned about the sugar rush which comes from consuming them. Don’t be surprised if you buy a box of cheap chocolates and your woman refuses to eat them because they have high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors. Perhaps it’s time to get more creative and pick up a few gluten-free, vegan cupcakes?

A popular outing for couples is to go out to dinner, but restaurants have become far too opportunistic in recent years. Typical Prix Fixe menus for February 14th are so outrageously expensive that you almost have to take out a second mortgage just to afford the meal. I have gotten to the point that I have no desire to pay three times the amount of money I would usually pay for a meal at the same restaurant, simply because I was foolish enough to go there on Valentine’s Day. Besides, the restaurants are always packed, always noisy, and there’s a good chance that your table might be right next to the men’s restroom or in a drafty corner of the patio. Never mind that you made reservations three months ago and specified that you wanted a booth inside the restaurant.

What I enjoy the most, and am planning to do this year, is to cook a nice meal at home, open a good bottle (or two) of wine, and enjoy the comforts of home. That holds much more value for me than surrounding myself with red heart cutouts, chocolates I can’t eat, or spending a king’s ransom for a meal. I also don’t have to yell over the din of the other patrons blabbing.

Trends and Outrageous Prices

lash extensions

I am not the kind of person who is easily lured by trendy items and services, nor am I fooled by the grossly inflated price tags which accompany them. It is astonishing how some businesses will take full advantage of newly encountered popularity by jacking up the prices so much that they end up turning away those of us who aren’t fooled by their greed. I recently checked into a certain beauty service which is incredibly popular, and is considered one of the hottest beauty trends. When I checked into the prices in my area, I was stunned. What I encountered was that the new-fangled service cost 5 to 6 times more than the comparable but more old-school service. Come on, really? There is no way in hell that I am willing to fork over a king’s ransom just so that I can try a new service. It’s not that I am cheap, but I am frugal, and I don’t think money should be thrown away like that.

When an item or service is hot and is accompanied by ridiculous prices, I always sit back and wait for the trend to die down. Once the hype has subsided, and the prices plummet, I begin to entertain the idea of making a purchase. If the item is destined for permanent price inflation, I completely and permanently abandon the idea of getting it. After all, it’s just stuff, and I can’t justify spending my hard-earned money on a THING which may quickly go out of style. You will never see me getting the hottest and latest Nike shoe design (the Nike Air Max 2016 is a great example, at $190!), just because everyone else is losing their minds about getting it. I mean, seriously, WHY do I need to spend almost $200 on an athletic shoe? That’s just stupid.

Nike Air Max 2016

However, I may consider purchasing a trendy service if it still interests me. A good example of a service which is hot right now, and one which I have been considering, is lash extensions. Though I have great hair and skin, I wasn’t blessed in the eyelash department, as my wimpy, sparse lashes can attest to. The problem is that if I go to the best lash extension artist in L.A., I had better be prepared to shell out a considerable amount of money for the service. The question I have been asking myself is, should I pay significantly more for the best, especially since I would continue the touch-ups on a regular basis? I haven’t rushed myself on making a decision, and have decided to take all the time I need to research lash extensions before taking the plunge. I am even considering going through a course so that I can offer the service to my own patients and clients. You can bet that I won’t gouge my patients and clients for the service either. Inflated prices do not necessarily equate with the best service or product!