Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Sarah Brown Shea
These creams and sprays can help relieve sore muscles.
When you’re ready to give overworked muscles some well-deserved TLC, pain-relieving creams and sprays can be “effective in providing temporary relief” for soreness that stems from a tough workout, says Annie O’Connor, with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Combine them with stretching, periodic heat, or a massage for best results. After trying a dozen promising potions, these five earned a spot in my gear bag.
COMBAT BLUNT FORCE
Bam! I banged my shin on a fallen branch of a trail run. So I liberally applied HYLAND’S MUSCLE THERAPY ‘JOB’ GEL WITH ARNICA ($7), which promised to reduce bruising with the homeopathic form of arnica, a flower related to sunflowers. This mostly odorless gel soaked in quickly and seemed to help ease the sting. I still wound up getting a bruise, but it was less florid than I had anticipated.
STAND-IN FOR ICE
When I overdid it in the weight room, my lats let me know. Rather than trying to jury-rig a bag of frozen peas under my bra strap, I had my hubby shoot a blast of BIO-RELIEF ICE PAIN RELIEVING SPRAY ($10) on the aching area. Icy numbness set in quickly, letting me forget my pain for a few hours. A little spritz of this menthol spray goes a long way.
FEEL THE HEAT
The morning after a 16-mile run, my quads were achingly tight, so I rubbed the lightly scented FLEXPOWER PAIN RELIEF CREAM ($15) with trolamine salicylate [an odorless analgesic that is similar to aspirin] into them. Within minutes, a pleasantly warm sensation built to a toasty fire that lasted about three hours, letting me walk without limping—or grimacing. the label also suggests using it before a workout for “optimal performance,” so on another morning, I decided to slap some on my knotted glutes as a warmup. Whether or not it was a placebo effect, those first couple of miles felt pretty good. Finally, when I was feeling (wo)man enough, I used it before showering. The hot water increased the cream’s intensity (a lot!).
DULL THE ACHE
When my calves were crying out after hill repeats, I quieted them with KOOL ‘N FIT PAIN SPRAY ($9) with camphor and menthol. The mist is light and clean, disappearing almost on contact. It felt tingly and warmish without being overpowering, dulling the ache in my legs. Its vaguely herbal scent was relaxing, too.
BEST FOR SORE FEET
With an irritated Achilles tendon in the left and plantar fasciitis in the right, my feet are prime candidates for fragrance-free TOPRICIN FOOT THERAPY CREAM($25). Made with 14 active ingredients (including arnica, calendula, and echinacea), it rubs in quickly, leaving no slippery residue. After several applications, the swelling near my ankle seemed to have subsided along with some pain, but my stubborn PF was not helped. As a bonus, the cream softened my rough heels.