6 Modern Muscle Rubs

Athletes can reap recovery benefits from these chicly-packaged products.

While it would be a stretch to say any balm or cream is a recovery cure-all, finding and diligently applying the right rub could help prevent some pain and reduce inflammation, according to Evanston, Illinois-based sports massage specialist Lori-Ann Gallant-Heilborn, LMT, who has traveled to four Olympic games with Team USA. “Depending on the client, I recommend either a warming product, to help loosen up muscles pre-workout, or a cooling one afterwards to decrease any inflammation created by micro-tearing or over-stretching,” she explains. 

She’s also a proponent of earth-derived ingredients. “I started out using Biofreeze, but the athletes I work with have had fewer allergic reactions and responded better to natural products,” says Gallant-Heilborn. Her best tip for picking a balm: “Read the label—if there are things on there you can’t pronounce or you don’t recognize at all, then keep looking.” 

Start with dime-size portion to see how your body responds, suggests board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist Sandra Lanshin Chiu, an expert in both skin issues and pain relief based in Brooklyn. And don't overdo it: "Apply your product three to four times a day. I’ve found that any more than that in a 12-hour period starts to decrease the effectiveness,” adds Gallant-Heilborn.

Here, six new options to try.