How Do I Choose the Best Muscle Rub?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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To choose the best muscle rub, consumers should purchase a product which contains either menthol or cayenne pepper extract. Both of these ingredients serve to bring pain relief to exposed areas of skin and the muscles beneath, and are naturally organic. Applicator forms for this type of product vary from thick, heavy balms, to quick drying gels, and can be purchased through Internet ordering or at local drug stores.

Menthol is one of the most common and most effective ingredients contained in many types of muscle rub. This ingredient is an organic compound found in the same family as peppermint. When applied to the surface of the skin, it acts as an immediate temporary pain reliever. It also encourages increased blood flow to any exposed areas of skin. This increased amount of blood works to slightly reduce the skin barrier, allowing other medications to enter the body quickly, while promoting healing to damaged, overused tissues.

Some all natural forms of muscle rub may replace the use of menthol with cayenne pepper extract. This spicy ingredient is designed to work similarly to menthol by promoting circulation to painful muscles, and providing topical relief from pain. Unlike menthol, which sends signals to the brain that exposed areas are feeling a cool sensation, cayenne pepper extract acts as a warming agent. Users may prefer to allow their bodies to dictate which ingredient they prefer, depending on the level of inflammation associated with their muscle soreness.


Methyl salicylate is a second less common ingredient contained in some rubs that also serves to act as a topical pain reliever. This ingredient is often associated with its heavy, wintergreen fragrance. Some people may choose to avoid using a muscle rub on tired, aching areas of the body as a result of this mildly overwhelming and unpleasant aroma. Those who prefer an odorless rub, or who require hypoallergenic creams, can read the active ingredients list on their rub product labeling to determine if methyl salicylate has been used.

A muscle rub can be purchased in many different forms to suit the lifestyle of the user. It is available as a balm, lotion, roll-on gel, or applicator patch, among other options. Individuals who experience chronic pain as a result of the type of work they perform may benefit from purchasing a rub that is promoted as non-greasy or can be applied using a roll-on tube. These types of medications allow users to keep their hands and clothing dry and prevents permanent staining.


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