Aspirin may soothe sore muscles, but also delays recovery

FITNESS CLINIC

October 02, 1990|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,New York Times Syndicate

Even for those of us in excellent shape, it's common for muscles to feel sore the day after a hard workout. And although taking aspirin may relieve your pains temporarily, it also can delay your recovery.

When your muscles feel sore, the best treatment is to take the day off. Don't even stretch.

The soreness you feel is caused by bleeding into and damage to the microscopic fibers of your muscles. Exercising with damaged muscles can cause a larger, more serious muscle tear. Then you won't be able to exercise at all.

If you are unable -- or unwilling -- to take the day off, you should exercise at a relaxed pace in another sport that stresses muscles other than the ones that feel sore.

Aspirin will reduce the swelling of damaged muscles but it won't increase the rate at which the tissue heals. Instead, aspirin can delay healing because it blocks the release of hormones, called prostaglandins, from the damaged fibers. Prostaglandins increase the flow of blood to damaged tissue. Several studies have shown that aspirin blocks their release and delays healing.

When you injure a muscle, rest it, apply heat after the swelling starts to go down, and avoid aspirin and stretching.

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Q **Will taking yeast tablets give me extra energy so I can exercise harder and more often?

A **Anyone who takes yeast supplements because they think the pills will provide extra energy, make them a better athlete and prevent disease is buying the supplements for the wrong reasons.

There are three types of yeast for human consumption. There's Baker's yeast, which is used to make bread rise, and there's Brewer's yeast, which does not make bread rise. Brewer's yeast is a byproduct of the beer industry.

The third type of yeast is made from fungi grown specifically for food supplements, sold as powders and pills.

You don't want to take Baker's yeast because the gas it releases into your intestines can blow you up like a balloon. You don't want to take Brewer's yeast because it has a very bitter taste.

The yeast in supplements is a very rich source of the mineral chromium and the energy vitamins thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. You can get all the chromium you need from nuts, dried fruits and vegetables such as asparagus. All the energy vitamins are found in meat, whole grains and dairy products.

Some makers of yeast supplements sold today advertise that their products contain RNA and DNA, the nucleic acids that program how a cell grows and functions. They claim that aging is caused by a wearing out of your nucleic acids and that the nucleic acids in yeast will replace your worn out ones and make you young again. It doesn't happen that way!

*Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializinin sports medicine and nutrition.

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