Fitness Nutrition Forums

Which is the Best Muscle Rub?


When you're sore and tired from a heavy lifting session, there are few things that will make you feel as wonderful as a good rub down with your favorite muscle rub.

But do you know which is the best muscle rub?

Tiger Balm

For an all-round effective analgesic cream, you just can't beat Tiger Balm. It's much more common in Asia (where I grew up), but you can find it in just about any pharmacy around the country. The Chinese heat rub is made with menthol, camphor, mint oil, cassia oil, and other herbal ingredients, and the formula on which the rub is based has been around for more than 1,500 years. After all that time, they've definitely got it right, and few rubs can release muscle tension as well as burning hot Tiger Balm! The smell is strong, but it's actually a pleasant one.


The beauty of Biofreeze is that it's a medication-strength cream without the medicated smell or the need for a prescription. Many chiropractors and pain specialists recommend its use, and it's an OTC pain relief gel you can find at almost any pharmacy--not to mention online. It contains menthol as the active ingredient, but it also has aloe, calendula, green tea, arnica, camphor, and lemon balm to help soothe your muscles. It works for a long time, and it doesn't have too bad of a smell.

Icy Hot

Icy Hot will turn your skin red, which means that it's stimulating circulation to the area to which it is applied. The initial coolness will help to reduce the pain, while the heat that follows soon after will get the blood flowing. Its primary ingredient is menthol, but it contains other natural ingredients that work nicely to chill and heat your muscles. You'll find the heat of the cream can actually be quite painful, so make sure not to apply it too close to cuts or wounds.

Vicks Vapo-Rub

Vicks Vapo-Rub is more commonly used as a cough relief treatment, but it's great on those sore, tired muscles as well. It is an oil-based medication, with cedarleaf oil, turpentine oil, nutmeg oil, and petroleum jelly being some of the inactive ingredients in the rub. However, it has camphor, menthol, and eucalypthol in the rub, so it's going to help relieve the tension from those tired muscles. The smell isn't too bad either!

P-K-5 Pain Reliever

I have never personally tried this rub, but I've heard that it's surprisingly effective for dealing with muscle pain. It contains albumin proteins (from eggs), herbs, oils, plant extracts, minerals and vitamins, and it's supposed to be one of the best pain relief rubs for those who don't like the smell of the mentholated ones. It is a hypoallergenic cream that won't cause a strong skin reaction (not uncommon with the others on this list), so it's a good option for those with sensitive skin.

I'm partial to Tiger Balm, because I've tried it and found that it works a lot better than Icy Hot, Vicks Vapo-Rub, and Biofreeze. However, many people have found that the others work just as well, so any of these 5 muscle rubs are going to be your best option!



Andy Peloquin had battled with weight loss issues his whole life. To overcome this, he began studying fitness and is now in the process of becoming a certified professional fitness trainer. He exercise seven days a week and is excited to share his down-to-earth knowledge of exercise and fitness.

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