Aches and pains are one of the few downsides of exercising and, while ice baths and foam rollering can help, they aren’t exactly a fun way to spend your time, particularly if you’ve just endured a 10-mile run.
Post-work out gels and creams – which help to soothe the muscles and reduce any soreness over time – might be just what the doctor ordered. The more traditional fitness gels may bring overpowering, pungent smells to mind, but spa versions are a much more pleasant affair. You don’t have to work out to use them either, with some used in treatments – a refreshing gel after a hot stone massage is utter bliss. They can be used to ease the aches and pains from sitting at a desk and even tension headaches, too.
For the past few months The Spa Spies have been putting five post-work out products to the test – here’s what we thought:
First impressions: The muscle gel comes in a white squeezy tube embossed in the gold AA logo. The lid flips open and, like toothpaste, it’s easy to dispense and mess-free. The product itself is a cloudy coloured gel, as soon as pop some on your hand the calming scent of lavender soothes you. The gel absorbs quickly, leaves a tacky reside for around a minute then disappears, leaving a cooling, tingly sensation.
Does it work? The cooling sensation instantly soothed my muscles, whilst the noticeable scent of lavender helped calm my mind. After a couple of minutes the product warmed up, melting away any tension. It’s a great product to use at night to encourage a good night’s sleep. I awoke the next morning feeling less sore and achy than I usually do after exercise.
Verdict: I would use this product again – it’s a great product for anyone who works out in the evening. I really like the fact it soothes the body as well as the mind. It works wonders on tension headaches, too.
"Soothe both your body and mind in one application."
First impressions: Fresh green boxes which continues onto the tubes, too. The booster is a gel that you roll onto areas of concern (hips, thighs, buttocks) to boost the circulation. It’s thin and clear with an uplifting scent. Within a few minutes it warms the skin and feels a bit like a Vicks VapoRub.
The scrub is lovely in the shower post work-out; a brown gel with visible black rice seed particles, it scrubs well without being too abrasive.
The cream is white, quite thick and refreshing. You don’t need much to make your skin feel soft and moisturised.
Does it work? Comfort Zone say this range was designed to increase the benefits of exercise when used before, during and after a work-out and, with three products heating, scrubbing and moisturising your skin, you can’t really go wrong.
Verdict: This range is reasonably priced and would last a while if only using a couple of times a week.
First impressions: This product comes in a small, stylish monochrome box. Once opened, the silky balm lifts onto your finger easily and melts onto the skin. Coverage is good, making it easy to massage in post-exercise. The smell is earthy but vibrant with honey overtones.
Does it work? The smell isn’t particularly strong, but the balm has a lovely warming effect, ideal for massaging into tense muscle areas before or after exercise -- it made the skin soft enough to tease out knots. The heat effect (a feeling of warmth on the skin after application) was both comforting and relaxing.
Verdict: I would certainly use this again. The scent could be deeper for an all-round relaxing experience, but on muscles it worked a treat.
"If you’re looking for a simple, warming balm to tease out post-workout knots this is a good choice."
First impressions: The product comes in a bright blue squeezy bottle making it easy to use and spot in the bottom of your gym bag.
What’s it like? Once the blue tinted gel is massaged into the skin it feels instantly cool and tingly. It takes a minute or so for the product to absorb; once the icy cool sensation hits, it lasts for up to an hour. The gel has quite a strong scent – you can tell it contains menthol and witch hazel.
Verdict: At just under the £40 mark this would have to be a treat, but I did love the sensation and soothing effects.
Key ingredients: Clary sage, dandelion and peppermint
First impressions: Striking turquoise box with an easy to use squeezy tube with silver screw top. A little goes a long way with this blue gel; it goes on on easily and instantly cools. Its quick absorbing action prevents the skin from feeling tacky afterwards.
Does it work? Temple Spa say Aaahhh claims to calm and refresh the feet and legs; I used this all over my body after doing intensive workouts and found that it did exactly as it promised. The fresh, cool feeling lasts at least half an hour, while the muscle warming lasts a little longer. My skin felt soft and nourished, too.
Verdict: This product is reasonably priced and a little goes a long way. It would be a great product to take on a city break or anywhere when you know you will be doing lots of walking.
"All work outs are hard, I am glad I have Aaahhh to treat my body afterwards."