As many of you know I am a keen runner, so I thought I would share a few of the things I use to keep muscle aches at bay. These are no substitute for proper warm ups and cool downs, and are in no way intended to replace seeking the correct advice in cases of injury.
I fell in love with Weleda's Arnica Muscle Soak a while ago, so treated myself to the Arnica Massage Oil when I ordered my replacement. I can no longer find the oil in stock so I am assuming the formula has been tweaked to the Arnica Massage Balm.
The fragrance is very much of Rosemary, although there is lavender as well as the Arnica flowers and Birch leaves. It has a pleasant warming sensation, which soothes away aches and pains. This is a million miles away from the Deep Heat products which in my experience are very uncomfortable for a few minutes and then lose all effectiveness. A little of this massaged into my legs after a hot bath, really does reduce muscle aches the day after my long runs.
The Arnica is also fantastic for bruises, and helps clear them up quickly. I bruise very easily and have had a couple of good falls when running, so I also use this dabbed onto any bruises for a couple of days. I notice a marked improvement in bruising when I use this.
Ginger Brew by Bodhi & Birch is a wonderful, spicy alternate to the Arnica Massage Oil. I don't think I could choose a favourite as I love them equally, although I use them for slightly different purposes.
I tend to reach for the Ginger Brew more when the temperature drops, as I find it has more of warming effect. Again I find it comforting, rather than an uncomfortable burning that I would associate with Deep Heat etc. This is particularly useful after long runs in the cold as even after a hot bath it can take quite a while for me to warm up properly.
The Ginger Brew contains Plai, Galangal, Black Pepper, Ginger and Tumeric, giving it wonderful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. I have trouble with sciatica, and I find it more helpful than the Arnica for reducing nerve pain
Out of the three products Herbfarmacy's Meadowsweet Muscle Balm is perhaps the most gentle, but it is still something I enjoy using. The balm has a buttery soft texture which melts into the skin. It is sometimes a little easier to control a balm, than an oil. There is less of a chance of spillages when you are as clumsy as I am.
I do tend to use this after less strenuous exercise, and perhaps more for tired than aching or sore muscles. Meadowsweet Balm is made with Comfrey, Hypericum, and Meadowsweet. It also contains beeswax, so isn't suitable for vegans.
It has a lovely soft herbal fragrance and I find it very calming. I like to use this before bed as it helps me wind down and seems to help me get to sleep sooner. The fragrance is more subtle than the others, so it is less likely to transfer onto the bed sheets.