Friday, January 04, 2008


Some of you have heard me going on about "embrocation," but I've gotta say on this point, I think the euros are on to something. Henceforth, you're going to see me rubbing my legs down with something before and maybe even after most every race or hard training effort as part of my resolution to take better care of my legs.

At Jingle Cross, a friend let me use a bit of his Sports Balm and at Cross Natz I bought a jar of Qoleum Extra Hot. Both of these products stay on like nobody's business. In fact, I can guarantee after you get over the shock of not having that dead feeling during the 'cross start because there was already plenty of blood to your muscles, you'll get a whole new level of sensory experience in the shower. It gets so hot in the presence of warm moisture that you'll think flames are licking up your legs. But once you ascertain there is no smoke, you can actually get kind of a rush as you use breathing techniques to control your impulse to leap out screaming. I realize this isn't much of a sales pitch, but I'm a total fan. Is that too much information?

On last nights ride in the dark - 21 degrees F, 17 mph wind - about 1/2 teaspoon of Qoleum on each leg under Pearl Izumi Amphibs, I was post toasty from the tips of my toes to the ends of my fingers. Legs muscles were loose and felt good. From my perspective, if the cost of feeling great in Nebraska's sub-freezing temps is simply an opportunity to practice pain management for 5 or 10 minutes, you can count me in. The real benefit of embrocation seems to be that the stimulation of the nerves increases blood flow to the target area. Consequently, your muscles have more oxygen to work with and feel better. All that being said, I'm going to be trying various products and will review them here. Maybe extra hot is overkill. I don't know yet, but the embrocation makers have got a new consumer. What are your favorite products?

Don't be a sissy, ride your bike.


Bob Kuhn said...

I am cheap so I use Atomic Balm. We used to use this back in the 80s for soccer and football. It is lanolin based, hot and comes in various viscosities. I use the think lanolin gel for wet and cold and the "sports rub" lotion for non-wet cold days. You can cut either with baby oil to make it thinner. A 1lb jar of the paste is $17 and the ointment is $10 per pound. Much cheaper than the Euro stuff. Smaller tubes are available as well.

I have used it for 'cross for 7 years and at nationals with very good warming results.

VeloCC said...

I bought some stuff in Germany and it works great. Used it last Sunday on a 2 hours MTB ride and I am loving it:)

Cornbread said...

I've never tried the stuff, but will give it a shot after reading this. Thanks!

sda said...

I made some sweet embrocation a year or so ago - a complete hogpodge consisting of cayanne pepper, tiger balm, baby oil, and wintergreen oil. Stank like hell but kept my knees warm.

sydney_b said...

maybe you ought to post your recipe?

sda said...

i'll see if i can remember the proportions ... i kinda winged it ;).