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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why does Icy Hot Work?

I'm not sure what answer I was expecting when I googled this, but it definitely wasn't the one I got. So the "icy" doesn't dull the pain while the "hot" melts it away? It's all just a trick? Say it a'int so. Now my 2XI pre-race routine (inhaler and icy hot) is down to just 1XI... which is really just I... how will I ever run again?!? Ok, enough with the dramatics and back to the original topic of discussion. Icy Hot, Biofreeze, Bengay, etc. are classified as analgesics. They work by tricking the nervous system. Basically, pain and temperature information share a common pathway to the brain. However, the "temperature" stimulus travels to the brain faster than the "pain" stimulus, so the former overrides the later.

Alright... I guess I'm ok with tricking myself... especially since I'm really not ok with freezer burning my leg on a regular basis (aka what usually happens when I attempt to use "real ice"). Having said that, here is my review of the Icy Hot line of products:
  • Icy Hot Balm: Pros- cheapest, container has a screw cap and is hard plastic (good for not getting icy hot all over your bag); Cons- doesn't spread well, composition changes when it melts and re-solidifies
  • Icy Hot Cream: Pros- cheap, spreads better than balm (although still not all that great); Cons- comes in a tube with a pop-top lid (bad for getting all over your bag)
  • Icy Hot Gel: Pros- spreads the easiest (definitely didn't notice that the scent vanished), Cons- slightly more expensive (not that much more than the cream), comes in a tube (but the cap pushes down so it doesn't pop off as often)
  • Icy Hot Patch: Pros- less scent than others, easy to apply; Cons- doesn't seem to work as well (in my opinion), much more expensive for what you're getting
And, although I swear by Icy Hot, Biofreeze works equally as well (it's just not generally as readily available).

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