HomeFitnessThese Are the Best Muscle Rubs That *Effectively* Relieve Soreness, According to...

These Are the Best Muscle Rubs That *Effectively* Relieve Soreness, According to Physical Therapists

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Sore muscular tissues, whether or not from a tough exercise or sleeping weirdly, will be an unwelcome distraction if you’re simply making an attempt to go about your common day. Whereas it will not magically heal an damage or pace up restoration, a muscle rub or balm could also be an excellent resolution to at the least assist alleviate soreness and ache quickly. These rubs—which may come as a gel, cream, or ointment—get absorbed via the pores and skin and may also help soothe aching muscular tissues or joints. They typically include naturally derived substances like camphor, menthol, and arnica (extra on these under), which purpose to lower irritation and stimulate the pores and skin to distract your mind from the sensation of discomfort.

To study extra about what to search for in a rub, we spoke to a couple health and bodily remedy execs for his or her suggestions and proposals of one of the best muscle rubs round. Whether or not you are experiencing again ache, post-workout soreness, or simply normal aches (ugh, we’re sorry!), one of many merchandise on this record may also help you discover some reduction.

7 of one of the best muscle rubs, at a look:

  • Finest gel: Biofreeze, Menthol Ache-Relieving Gel, $15
  • Finest ointment: Tiger Balm, Ache Relieving Ointment, $12
  • Finest with pure substances: The Really feel Good Lab, Pure Ache Cream, $25
  • Finest natural: Dr. Bronner’s, Natural Magic Balm, $15
  • Finest cream: Ted’s, Ache Cream, $22
  • Finest topical NSAID: Voltaren, Arthritis Ache Gel, $10
  • Finest with CBD: Cornbread Hemp, Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm, $5

Elements to search for in a muscle rub

Menthol, arnica, and camphor—these are three of the highest substances to search for in a soothing rub says Shikha Sharma, PT, DPT, medical director of Excel Sports activities and Bodily Remedy in St. Louis, Missouri.

“These substances create a pleasing diversion with their cooling sensations from ache with out irritating the pores and skin,” she says. Lara Heimann, a bodily therapist and creator of the LYT Yoga Methodology, provides that substances like CBD or THC will be extra useful in treating persistent ache (substances like menthol solely quickly block ache indicators from touring to the mind.) Muscle balms that include topical ache relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) can even soothe muscular tissues should you’re injured or cannot take oral anti-inflammatories (though they don’t seem to be for everybody, so you’ll want to communicate along with your physician first and monitor your NSAID use).

The place attainable, keep away from dyes, preservatives, or parabens, and search for research-backed approval, says Heimann. “Artificial-free and natural [ingredients] would be the greatest as you’re making use of immediately onto the pores and skin to be absorbed,” she provides. And most significantly, you’ll want to take it straightforward. Sharma notes that whereas utilizing muscle balms, your perceived tolerance to ache and vary of movement could seem to enhance. “Watch out when exercising or partaking in any strenuous exercise, as you don’t wish to push your self previous your precise means or vary of movement,” she says.

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The 7 greatest muscle rubs for immediate reduction

Biofreeze pain relieving gel, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest gel: Biofreeze, Menthol Ache-Relieving Gel — $15.00

Key substances: Menthol, arnica montana, camphor, aloe, lemon balm

Biofreeze is freed from parabens and makes use of a four-percent menthol system that gives quick and long-lasting ache reduction by blocking the ache sign to your mind. The gel is non-greasy, and menthol offers it a cooling impact to assist cut back irritation, says Kyle Risley, a well being professional and CEO of Raise Vault. It additionally is available in roll-on and spray variations to make software even simpler and mess-free.

Dimension: 4 oz.


  • Non-greasy system
  • Inexpensive
  • Obtainable at most drugstores
  • Obtainable in several codecs (roll-on, stick, and many others.)

a package of tiger balm pain relieving ointment, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest ointment: Tiger Balm, Ache Relieving Ointment — $12.00

Key substances: camphor, menthol, cassia oil, cajuput oil, clove oil

Tiger Balm is a basic—it’s been round for 100 years, and should you’ve ever had a jar in your cupboard, you’ll acknowledge its distinct odor. The principle substances are camphor and menthol, which give heat that helps open up blood vessels and enhance circulation to loosen up any stiff joints. The compact measurement and non-messy software makes this decide nice to throw in your health club bag and use on the go.

Dimension: 1.7 oz.


  • Compact measurement
  • Doesn’t stain garments
  • Inexpensive
  • Made with pure substances.

a package of feel good lab natural pain cream, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest with pure substances: The Really feel Good Lab, Pure Ache Cream — $25.00

Key substances: arnica, aloe, turmeric, menthol, vitamin E

This ache cream is made with a slew of pure substances like arnica, turmeric, aloe vera, calendula, menthol, and extra. The system doesn’t include any poisonous substances or synthetic fragrances, and it’s FDA-registered to alleviate arthritis and backache ache. And, in contrast to the 2 picks above, this cream doesn’t go away behind a powerful odor. It’s additionally a easy, non-greasy system that may go away your pores and skin feeling mushy due to the addition of glycerin, sunflower oil, and vitamin E.

Dimension: 3.4 oz.


  • Refined scent
  • Formulation consists of 30 botanical substances
  • Moisturizing
  • Non-greasy
  • FDA-approved for sure signs

a tin of dr bronners magic balm, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest natural: Dr. Bronner’s, Natural Magic Balm — $15.00

Key substances: arnica, camphor, menthol, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil

Made with USDA- and Truthful Commerce-certified substances, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Balm can be utilized on sore muscular tissues in addition to dry pores and skin. It has arnica, menthol, and camphor oils to supply cooling reduction, beeswax, and olive, avocado, and coconut oils to nourish. The model additionally makes a model of this balm that excludes the arnica and menthol for a scent-free moisturizer, if that’s extra your pace.

Dimension: 2 oz.


  • USDA- and Truthful-Commerce licensed
  • Contains pure, moisturizing substances to melt pores and skin
  • Perfume-free possibility
  • Inexpensive
  • Obtainable in most drugstores
  • Scent-free possibility doesn’t present pain-relieving results

teds pain cream, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest cream: Ted’s, Ache Cream — $22.00

Key substances: resveratrol, methyl salycilate (wintergreen oil), arnica, glycerin, Boswellia serrata extract

Ted’s Ache Cream was developed by a neuroscientist and can be utilized on muscular tissues or migraines alike. It’s a favourite of Heimann as a result of, along with menthol from wintergreen oil, it additionally consists of resveratrol, which is present in grape skins and different crops, and has been proven to focus on pain-sensing nerves. The combo of the 2 purpose to supply a extra long-lasting treatment. Plus, the addition of glycerin and water helps this system go on easily and provides a contact of moisture.

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Dimension: 3 oz.


  • Resveratrol and wintergreen work collectively to alleviate ache
  • Non-greasy system
  • Lengthy-lasting
  • Obtainable in several codecs (roll-on, and many others.)

a package of voltaren arthritis pain gel, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest topical NSAID: Voltaren, Arthritis Ache Gel — $10.00

Key substances: NSAID (diclofenac sodium), mineral oil, perfume

Voltaren cream goes past pores and skin deep; it’s an NSAID drugs and absorbs into your muscular tissues to assist cut back irritation and supply ache reduction. It penetrates shortly, has no odor, and can last as long as 12 hours, provides David Brendan, an ISSA/IFPA licensed health coach. It’s marketed as an arthritis cream however can be utilized on muscular tissues, too.

Because it’s an NSAID, it is best to communicate along with your physician earlier than utilizing Voltaren gel, particularly if in case you have coronary heart problems, a persistent situation, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dimension: 1.7 oz.


  • Made with NSAID
  • Perfume-free
  • Works shortly and lasts lengthy
  • Inexpensive
  • FDA-approved
  • Requires physician sign-off if in case you have a coronary heart difficulty, persistent situation, or are pregnant
  • Elements could irritate pores and skin for some individuals

a tube of cornbread hemp full spectrum hemp balm, one of the best muscle rubs

Finest with CBD: Cornbread Hemp, Full-Spectrum Hemp Balm — $55.00

Key substances: hemp CBD extract, arnica, shea butter, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil

Whereas analysis continues to be within the early phases, there’s promising information on the market relating to hemp-derived CBD as an anti-inflammatory support. This balm from Cornbread Hemp options USDA Natural full-spectrum hemp flower extract, in addition to arnica and peppermint. It is available in a tube, which makes it straightforward to use on tough-to-reach spots (like your higher again or shoulders), and the non-greasy system isn’t too overpowering within the scent division. Plus, Cornbread Hemp places all of their merchandise via rigorous third-party testing to verify security and accuracy—that’s further essential when purchasing for a CBD product as a result of they’re not but regulated by the FDA.

Dimension: 2.4 oz.


  • USDA-certified, natural substances
  • Third-party examined for accuracy and security
  • Straightforward to use
  • Lengthy-lasting
  • Expensive
  • Contains hint quantities of THC (might not be a con for some!)

What to contemplate


Some individuals are down with the minty menthol or camphor scent of most muscle rubs—it smells prefer it’s working! However should you’re scent-averse, you would possibly wish to go for a less-strong or unscented possibility.

Consistency and packaging

Do you favor a waxy balm, a slippery gel, or a moisturizing cream? Every consistency feels totally different on the pores and skin. Moreover, the packaging could play a job in whether or not or not you are taking your muscle rub on the go (for instance, a stick or balm may be higher for the health club bag, whereas a bathtub or jar will be saved simply in your drugs cupboard.)


The pores and skin is our our bodies’ largest organ, so the substances you apply matter. Whereas all the merchandise on our record are protected for topical use, some go the additional mile by prioritizing natural and naturally derived substances so you possibly can really feel extra assured in what you are placing in your bod. This consists of:

    • FDA approval: Make sure that the muscle rub is permitted by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the product meets sure security and efficacy requirements.
    • Third-party testing: Select muscle rubs that bear third-party testing by respected laboratories. This ensures that the product’s substances are precisely labeled, and it meets security and efficiency requirements
    • Natural and cruelty-free requirements: In case you desire pure and natural merchandise, search for muscle rubs which might be licensed natural by organizations such because the USDA. This ensures that the substances are grown and processed with out artificial chemical substances. Equally, take into account merchandise which might be licensed cruelty-free by organizations like Leaping Bunny or PETA. This certification signifies that the product and its substances weren’t examined on animals.
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The muscle rubs on our record vary from $10 to $55, so your finances is actually one thing to bear in mind whereas purchasing. Merchandise that use natural, pure substances are usually just a little pricier (they typically value extra to make and certify). However, assuming you just like the product, some manufacturers supply subscription reductions, that are value testing.


Do muscle rubs actually work?

Whether or not a muscle rub works or not will depend upon the product’s particular substances. In case you’re utilizing a topical NSAID, there is a excessive probability you may expertise anti-inflammatory advantages (as you’d with an ingested NSAID). Nonetheless, analysis means that many topical ache lotions can typically present a placebo impact—that is notably true for formulation that embrace menthol or camphor, which cool or heat the pores and skin and, because of this, distract the person from the ache.

Does that imply they do not work? It is dependent upon the way you have a look at it. Keep in mind: whereas they could really feel good on sore muscular tissues after a exercise, muscle rubs aren’t meant to remedy or relieve ache long-term.

The place to not put muscle rub?

Muscle rubs are meant for exterior use solely and should not be utilized to any damaged pores and skin or cuts. In case you are inclined to have delicate pores and skin, it is best to check the rub on a small patch in your wrist earlier than making use of it to the world the place you are experiencing ache. In case you’re utilizing topical NSAID, it is best to ask your physician earlier than making use of to make sure you’re cleared to be used.

Can you employ an excessive amount of muscle rub?

To know dosing, at all times learn the directions on the packaging for the muscle rub you select. Some merchandise include easy substances that you simply actually cannot go overboard with. Others have extra advanced formulation containing CBD or NSAIDs—these particularly ought to be utilized by the model’s directions (and maybe even per your physician’s orders). In case you discover any opposed results (resembling itchiness, redness, or drowsiness) cease utilizing the rub instantly.

Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, current, sturdy research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Derry, Sheena et al. “Topical NSAIDs for persistent musculoskeletal ache in adults.” The Cochrane database of systematic opinions vol. 4,4 CD007400. 22 Apr. 2016, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007400.pub3
  2. Nationwide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medication; Well being and Medication Division; Board on Well being Sciences Coverage; Committee on the Evaluation of the Obtainable Scientific Information Concerning the Security and Effectiveness of Elements Utilized in Compounded Topical Ache Lotions; Jackson LM, Schwinn DA, editors. Compounded Topical Ache Lotions: Evaluate of Choose Elements for Security, Effectiveness, and Use. Washington (DC): Nationwide Academies Press (US); 2020 Might 13. 2, Function of Topical Ache Lotions in Ache Administration. Obtainable from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560353/

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