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Sore muscle mass, whether or not from a tough exercise or sleeping weirdly, could be an unwelcome distraction whenever you’re simply making an attempt to go about your common day. Whereas it received’t magically heal an damage or pace up restoration, a muscle rub or balm could also be a superb answer to a minimum of assist alleviate soreness and ache quickly. These rubs—which may come as a gel, cream, or ointment—get absorbed by means of the pores and skin and may also help soothe aching muscle mass or joints. They typically comprise naturally derived components 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 some health and bodily remedy professionals for his or her suggestions and suggestions of the very best muscle rubs round. Whether or not you’re experiencing again ache, post-workout soreness, or simply normal aches (ugh, we’re sorry!), one of many merchandise on this listing may also help you discover some reduction.

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

Substances to search for in a muscle rub

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

“These components 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 Technique, provides that components like CBD or THC could be extra useful in treating continual ache (components like menthol solely quickly block ache indicators from touring to the mind.) Muscle balms that comprise topical ache relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) may also soothe muscle mass should you’re injured or can’t take oral anti-inflammatories (though they’re not for everybody, so you should definitely communicate together with your physician first and monitor your NSAID use).

The place doable, 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 might be making use of immediately onto the pores and skin to be absorbed,” she provides. And most significantly, you should definitely take it straightforward. Sharma notes that whereas utilizing muscle balms, your perceived tolerance to ache and vary of movement might 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 skill or vary of movement,” she says.

The 7 greatest muscle rubs for fast reduction

Biofreeze pain relieving gel, one of the best muscle rubs

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

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

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

Measurement: 4 oz.



  • Non-greasy components
  • Inexpensive
  • Obtainable at most drugstores
  • Obtainable in several codecs (roll-on, stick, and so forth.)


  • Robust scent

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

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

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

Tiger Balm is a traditional—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 primary components are camphor and menthol, which offer heat that helps open up blood vessels and enhance circulation to loosen up any stiff joints. The compact dimension and non-messy utility makes this choose nice to throw in your fitness center bag and use on the go.

Measurement: 1.7 oz.



  • Compact dimension
  • Doesn’t stain garments
  • Inexpensive
  • Made with pure components.


  • Highly effective scent

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

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

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

This ache cream is made with a slew of pure components like arnica, turmeric, aloe vera, calendula, menthol, and extra. The components doesn’t comprise any poisonous components 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 depart behind a powerful odor. It’s additionally a clean, non-greasy components that can depart your pores and skin feeling comfortable because of the addition of glycerin, sunflower oil, and vitamin E.

Measurement: 3.4 oz.



  • Delicate scent
  • Method contains 30 botanical components
  • Moisturizing
  • Non-greasy
  • FDA-approved for sure signs


  • Expensive

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

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

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

Made with USDA- and Truthful Commerce-certified components, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Balm can be utilized on sore muscle mass in addition to dry pores and skin. It has arnica, menthol, and camphor oils to offer 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.

Measurement: 2 oz.



  • USDA- and Truthful-Commerce licensed
  • Consists of pure, moisturizing components to melt pores and skin
  • Perfume-free choice
  • Inexpensive
  • Obtainable in most drugstores


  • Scent-free choice doesn’t present pain-relieving results

teds pain cream, one of the best muscle rubs

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

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

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

Measurement: 3 oz.



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


  • Expensive

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

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

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

Voltaren cream goes past pores and skin deep; it’s an NSAID drugs and absorbs into your muscle mass to assist scale 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 muscle mass, too.

Because it’s an NSAID, it’s best to communicate together with your physician earlier than utilizing Voltaren gel, particularly you probably have coronary heart problems, a continual situation, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Measurement: 1.7 oz.



  • Made with NSAID
  • Perfume-free
  • Works shortly and lasts lengthy
  • Inexpensive
  • FDA-approved


  • Requires physician sign-off you probably have a coronary heart concern, continual situation, or are pregnant
  • Substances might irritate pores and skin for some folks

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 components: hemp CBD extract, arnica, shea butter, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil

Whereas analysis remains to be within the early phases, there may be promising knowledge on the market relating to hemp-derived CBD as an anti-inflammatory assist. 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 components isn’t too overpowering within the scent division. Plus, Cornbread Hemp places all of their merchandise by means of rigorous third-party testing to substantiate security and accuracy—that’s further necessary when purchasing for a CBD product as a result of they’re not but regulated by the FDA.

Measurement: 2.4 oz.



  • USDA-certified, natural components
  • Third-party examined for accuracy and security
  • Straightforward to use
  • Lengthy-lasting


  • Expensive
  • Consists of hint quantities of THC (will not be a con for some!)

What to think about


Some persons 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 may wish to go for a less-strong or unscented choice.

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 might play a job in whether or not or not you’re taking your muscle rub on the go (for instance, a stick or balm is likely to be higher for the fitness center bag, whereas a bath or jar could be saved simply in your drugs cupboard.)


The pores and skin is our our bodies’ largest organ, so the components you apply matter. Whereas all the merchandise on our listing are secure for topical use, some go the additional mile by prioritizing natural and naturally derived components so you’ll be able to really feel extra assured in what you’re placing in your bod. This contains:

    • FDA approval: Make sure that the muscle rub is authorized 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 endure third-party testing by respected laboratories. This ensures that the product’s components are precisely labeled, and it meets security and efficiency requirements
    • Natural and cruelty-free requirements: For those who desire pure and natural merchandise, search for muscle rubs which can be licensed natural by organizations such because the USDA. This ensures that the components are grown and processed with out artificial chemical substances. Equally, take into account merchandise which can be licensed cruelty-free by organizations like Leaping Bunny or PETA. This certification signifies that the product and its components weren’t examined on animals.


The muscle rubs on our listing vary from $10 to $55, so your finances is definitely one thing to remember whereas buying. Merchandise that use natural, pure components are usually a little bit pricier (they typically price extra to make and certify). However, assuming you just like the product, some manufacturers provide subscription reductions, that are price testing.


Do muscle rubs actually work?

Whether or not a muscle rub works or not will rely on the product’s particular components. For those who’re utilizing a topical NSAID, there’s a excessive likelihood you’ll expertise anti-inflammatory advantages (as you’d with an ingested NSAID). Nevertheless, analysis suggests 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, consequently, distract the consumer from the ache.

Does that imply they don’t work? It depends upon the way you have a look at it. Bear in mind: whereas they may really feel good on sore muscle mass 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 shouldn’t be utilized to any damaged pores and skin or cuts. For those who are inclined to have delicate pores and skin, it’s greatest to check the rub on a small patch in your wrist earlier than making use of it to the realm the place you’re experiencing ache. For those who’re utilizing topical NSAID, it’s greatest to ask your physician earlier than making use of to make sure you’re cleared to be used.

Can you utilize an excessive amount of muscle rub?

To grasp dosing, at all times learn the directions on the packaging for the muscle rub you select. Some merchandise comprise easy components that you just actually can’t go overboard with. Others have extra advanced formulation containing CBD or NSAIDs—these particularly needs to be utilized by the model’s directions (and maybe even per your physician’s orders). For those who discover any hostile results (comparable to itchiness, redness, or drowsiness) cease utilizing the rub instantly.

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