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Use of Analgesics for Exercise-Associated Pain: Prevalence and Predictors of Use in Recreationally Trained College-Aged Students

Brewer, Christi B.1; Bentley, John P.2; Hallam, Jeffrey S.1,3; Woodyard, Catherine D.1; Waddell, Dwight E.1,4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 74–81
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318291ba98
Original Research

Brewer, CB, Bentley, JP, Hallam, JS, Woodyard, CD, and Waddell, DE. Use of analgesics for exercise-associated pain: prevalence and predictors of use in recreationally trained college-aged students. J Strength Cond Res 28(1): 74–81, 2014—The objectives of this study were to examine the use of the analgesics for the relief of exercise-associated pain (EAP) and to examine personal and/or exercise characteristics that might potentially predict such use in recreationally trained college-aged individuals. Recreationally trained college-aged students (N = 263) were invited to complete a self-administered 16-item questionnaire concerning personal exercise habits and analgesic use for EAP. The primary dependent variable was analgesic use for EAP, and additional items sought to characterize patterns and behaviors related to the use. Descriptive statistics and frequencies were calculated for all items, and logistic regression was used to evaluate the ability of 4 variables to predict analgesic use for EAP: gender, length of time performing regular exercise, weekly frequency of aerobic exercise, and weekly frequency of resistance exercise. Approximately 36% of respondents reported analgesic use for EAP, with data indicating acute use for what is generally acute pain. With predictors considered individually, gender was a significant predictor, with female respondents being more likely to use analgesics for EAP (p = 0.04). With all predictors considered concurrently, the model did not significantly contribute to the prediction of use in this sample. Potential for misuse was highlighted by a large percentage of users who described themselves as very unlikely to follow label directions and more likely to take a dose exceeding recommendations. In light of research that reports a potential detriment to muscular regeneration when analgesics are consumed with exercise, it is important to be cognizant of the use of these drugs in individuals striving to improve muscular fitness. Coaches and trainers should educate athletes about the associated risks and caution those who may unnecessarily take analgesics.

1Department of Health, Exercise Science, & Recreation Management, School of Applied Sciences, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi;

2Department of Pharmacy Administration, School of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi;

3Center for Health Behavior Research, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi; and

4Department of Computer and Information Science, School of Engineering, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi

Address correspondence to Dr. Christi B. Brewer,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.