Heat Rub for Sore Muscles

What works for you best?

17 messages
03/01/2013 at 13:00

My hamstrings tend to get really tight and sore after returning to exercise following a period of inactivity (even though I try to restart exercise gradually and gently - OK, perhaps not gently enough...).

I usually try to solve the problem by stretching and using a massage ball. This gives me momentary relief, but I find that I get stiff again soon and I can't really notice any difference in the speed of recovery.

I am thinking of using a heat rub/balm. Can you guys recommend any particular products that do not only tackle the symptoms on the surface but also fasten recovery at the same time?

Thanks a lot!

03/01/2013 at 15:16

I don't think any of them do any thing other than benefit you get from the massage of rubbing it in, and the nice warm/cold feeling.

Ibuprofen gel might help if you are sore.

Make sure you eat properly, including some protein, within a couple of hours of running - that will help with recovery.

03/01/2013 at 16:26

I find a couple of Scandinavian blondes massaging my legs whilst I sip a cold beer works....  Well it might not work, But it takes my mind off my legs !

03/01/2013 at 16:53
I use a combination of Deep Heat and Deep Freeze. Deep Heat before and Deep Freeze after. Seems to help though it could be purely psychological.
03/01/2013 at 23:28

It may sound counter intuitive, but do your stretching the other way round. Some people swear that you must stretch before a run, which I used to do, on that advice. But I found I kept picking up injuries in my calves and glutes. So I tried the opposite. I now never strech before a run, but take a good 10 minutes or more after a workout to do some gentle stretching of everything. I get really good recovery now, very little soreness the next day, and very rarely pick up any injuries. its worked for four years or more! I second the ibuprofen gel advice for soreness, particularly straight after the stretching as you'll get a nice bit of massage too as you work it in. We're all different, so mix it up a bit and see what works for you. Good luck.

05/01/2013 at 20:14

Be careful not warming up before runs, I used to never warm up the pulled a groin strain and adductor muscles and was in utter agony and out of running for 2 months.

05/01/2013 at 20:19

There's a difference between not warming up and not stretching.  Before a run you should warm up by brisk walking, gentle running or dynamic exercises such as knee raises and kick backs.  After a run you should do your static stretches, and at other times during the day when you feel stiff.

I don't like chemical rubs and tend to use a wheat pillow instead.  Heat it up in the microwave for 3 minutes and go to sleep with it under your calf or thigh, depending where the problem is.  It smells a lot less than rubs, doesn't get on the sheets, and doesn't reduce your chances of getting intimate with your partner  Also good in place of a hot water bottle in winter

Edited: 05/01/2013 at 20:21
05/01/2013 at 20:26

I agree with SuperCaz, dynamic exercises pre run, n static stretches post. I also do Yoga, there are some brilliant running specific poses such as warrior and downward dog which are good for hamstrings... do daily

05/01/2013 at 20:47
Good advice
06/01/2013 at 10:15

I do Body Balance which uses a lot of yoga moves and find it essential to stop me from stiffening up

06/01/2013 at 13:44
This is great advice, thanks for all who contributed so far. I agree that dynamic warmup before and static stretches after running can make a huge difference. I need to make sure I don't skip doing these. I used to do Body Balance in my old gym, they don't have this class in my new one but they do offer Pilates and Yoga classes so I'm planning to make it a more regular habit to do Yoga/Pilates.

All in all, I guess prevention is always better than cure so I will try and focus on how NOT to get really bad muscle pain.
06/01/2013 at 13:52

I also subscribe to having protein after a tough session.  I prefer mine in the form of a milkshake as I tend to find my stomach is delicate, but a sandwich containing chicken, tuna or egg can be just as effective.

Ye Olde Dragon    pirate
06/01/2013 at 14:08

cold bath - works every time 

When I do my long long runs (eg 15 miles +), I tend to have 10 minutes in a cold bath then either a warm bath or a warm shower, depending on how much time I have. There is a trick and a skill to these baths, I get into the empty bath (keeping a jumper/tshirt on), then turn on the cold tap. As the bath is filling, your body adapts to the temp. I also take a coffee with me. Wiggle also do a 'recovery' cream which is good and doesn't get on your chest like the deep heat stuff.

06/01/2013 at 14:13

Cold baths don't work for me.  Maybe because I swim in cold water a lot so my body is used to them.

08/01/2013 at 18:08
I have never tried cold baths but it has been on my mind for a while. Is the water you run from the tap cold enough or do you add ice cubes as well? Do you actually sit in the bath or just dip in your legs?
09/01/2013 at 22:11
Cold baths !! Not for me !! Lol
10/01/2013 at 13:32

I'd only ever do cold baths if its 30C outside...  This time of year no chance!!  

Any cream/lotion will only work on the symptoms.  The action of massaging muscles will be what helps recovery (helping to shift lactate/ waste products from your muscles). 

A review of all stretching injury studies in the past has shown stretching before exercise may, on average prevent one injury every 23 years!   As said above, dynamic warm up before and then static stretching after is best.  I love downward dog yoga stretch as it does the whole leg.   Make sure you balance it by doing hip flexor and glut stretches as well.



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