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This popular painkiller could be why you’re not building muscle at the gym

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Photo: Stocksy/Kate Daigneault

Popping an anti-inflammatory pill might be a quick solution for annoying headaches, but not so much for your plateaued muscle growth. According to new research, using ibuprofen products, like Advil and Motrin, on a regular basis can actually stop your #gains in their tracks.

In the study, one group of the 18- to 35-year-old participants took a higher dose of ibuprofen (1,200 milligrams, which is a typical dose for the medication) and the other took a lower dose of aspirin (75 milligrams) every day for eight weeks. Meanwhile, the participants had supervised weight-training sessions two to three times a week.

Researchers found those on the low doses of aspirin ended up with muscles twice the size as those who were taking high doses of ibuprofen.

Researchers found those on the low doses of aspirin ended up with muscles twice the size as those who were taking high doses of ibuprofen due to the drug interfering with the healing process of their muscles. The ibuprofen also impaired the participants’ muscle strength, but that factor wasn’t nearly as noticeable as the lack of growth.

“This suggests that muscular inflammation processes when combined with weight training are beneficial to the long-term development of new muscle mass, at least in the young,” lead study author Tommy Lundberg, researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Laboratory Medicine, said in a press release. “Our results suggest that young people who do weight training to increase their muscle mass should avoid regular high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs.”

It might stink to have to clean out your medicine cabinet, but if you’re working on building up muscle, anti-inflammatory drugs probably aren’t the way to go. The next time you’re dealing with PMS or any sort of pain, consider giving acupuncture a try—evidently needles beat ibuprofen any day.

Is your back pain bumming you out? Your doc might prescribe a downward dog instead of a pill. Speaking of meds, get these ingredients out of your life ASAP.