Elizabeth Entenman
Updated Jul 23, 2016 @ 10:36 am
Picture of Broad City Soulstice
Credit: Comedy Central

One of the most satisfying parts of exercising is feeling your sore muscles after. It’s the sign of a good workout and means your body is responding to the rigor you just put it through.

And though it can be tempting to take an over-the-counter painkiller before working out to anticipates any aches, pains, and soreness you’ll encounter after you’re finished exercising, it turns out that isn’t the best idea.

Credit: Pixar / giphy.com

Let’s break it down: anti-inflammatory OTC painkillers like Advil/ibuprofen and Aleve/naproxen serve to block COX enzymes that reduce inflammation and fever. But COX enzymes can help protect your stomach and intestinal lining. While blocking these enzymes may help stop a headache, it will also puts your stomach at risk. And if you’re about to work out, that’s no good.

What’s more is OTC painkillers might not make any difference in your workout at all.

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There is one exception, though: It’s okay to take ibuprofen before working out if you have your period and need relief from menstrual cramps.

“Taking ibuprofen a few hours before exercise to help mitigate menstrual cramps could be very beneficial,” Speaker said. “It takes that much time for it to really start working anyway, depending on the dose, the type, and whether or not you took them with food. Once they start working, they only last four to six hours.”

Credit: NBC / giphy.com

The bottom line is that it’s best to take a painkiller after you work out, instead of before. But if you’re really hurting and need to take something, we recommend taking the day off from exercise. Listen to your body—it will thank you!