The 8 Best muscle pain relief creams in the UK
“The best muscle pain relief cream in the UK” may seem like a question that should have been answered a long time ago, but with numerous new products appearing in recent years and clinical evidence constantly growing, the best options are quickly changing.
The average athlete or gym-goer doesn’t necessarily have time to constantly delve into research and keep up to date - which is why we’ve done that for you and put together this list of the top 8 best muscle pain relief creams in the UK.
If you’re looking for a topical ointment, balm, cream or gel to help soothe aching muscles, speed up recovery and get back to working out, any of these options will do the trick quickly and effectively.
But first…what constitutes a muscle pain relief cream in the first place?
What is Muscle Pain Relief Cream?
Before we consider the best muscle relief cream in the UK, we have to define exactly what counts as this kind of product.
All products on this list are specifically formulated to treat minor aches and pains within the muscles and joints. This may mean DOMS from a particularly difficult workout, it may mean arthritis, backache, general sprains, minor injuries, or general aches and pains.
These types of products are especially popular with athletes as they can be useful for recovering and getting back to your favourite activity more quickly.
Many such products combine a skin cooling and soothing ingredient such as menthol with a deeper warming ingredient to help relax the muscles. Some use additional beneficial anti-inflammatory ingredients such as CBD or turmeric to boost results.
It’s important to understand that pain relief creams and balms can reduce pain and inflammation, speed up recovery and make injuries easier to live with. However, they can’t permanently reduce chronic pain, or repair an internal injury. This is why it is important to see a GP if you use such products for a while and are still experiencing pain.
Let’s jump right into the best options:
1. Evopure CBD Muscle Rub
This product was an easy pick for #1 as it covers all bases while also prioritising sustainable growth and production.
The product is based on natural waxes like candelilla wax and rich in varied beneficial ingredients including menthol, tea tree oil, lavender oil, grapeseed oil and more. This combination helps soothe and massage the skin, has antimicrobial properties, and helps to warm the muscles.
The real “kick”, however, comes from a dose of CBD or cannabidiol. CBD is a naturally occurring compound that is found in hemp or cannabis plants. There is strong evidence that when applied topically, it can help to manage both pain and inflammation.
The product also contains zero THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis - so it allows you to experience all of the benefits of CBD without any “high” feeling, or any of the potential downsides of THC use.
All ingredients are 100% organic, vegan, natural, and harvested in a sustainable manner. The CBD is extracted using CO2 based environmentally friendly practices. Evopure provides full lab testing results too, so you can check the legitimacy of their claims with ease.
While many of the products on this list can soothe and warm aching muscles, this is the only one that goes a step further with an actively pain-fighting blend of cannabinoids. With its wide range of beneficial botanicals and high quality ingredients, this balm was always going to be on our list, but the focus on sustainability takes it a step further and easily wins it the top spot.
2. Balmy Fox Muscle Rub
Another natural balm focused on organic ingredients, Balmy Fox’s rub is formulated based on general wellbeing as well as natural pain relief. It uses hemp oil and arnica to target inflammation, with eucalyptus oil providing an external cooling sensation.
Directions say you can expect anti-inflammatory results within just a few days, and clinical evidence supports such benefits from arnica after 3 days. The product has always reviewed extraordinarily well and has helped many people reduce pain and get back to their life more quickly.
The balm is 80% organic, but the brand claims they are making efforts to make this 100%.
While the brand doesn’t have a comprehensive environmental strategy to match Evopure’s proceeds from every sale go to environmental charities such as Plastic Ocean, allowing you to support positive change in a slightly different way.
3. The Oil Hut Muscle Rub Oil
Containing rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, and camphor oil, this oil prioritises deep penetration and can also be added to your bathwater for a relaxing and pain-relieving soak.
The company has positioned it as being an effective reliever for sciatica, bad backs, shoulders, hamstrings and calf problems. The oil provides a heating sensation which helps with blood flow to the problem muscles, re-energising your ability to experience your favourite hobbies.
Since oil is sometimes easier to overuse than balm, and this product is only 100ml, it may seem like it would be easy to run out very quickly - but the easy to use pump handle ensures you get the right amount every time and makes it easy to keep the oil around for longer term use.
4. Sombra Warm Therapy: Natural Pain Relieving Gel
Sombra’s all-natural pain treatment has a natural orange scent, is completely alcohol free and contains a wide range of ingredients including:
- Green tea
- Grapefruit seed extract
- Rose water
- Witch Hazel
It leaves no greasy residue behind at all and has a lot of very positive online reviews, especially from fibromyalgia sufferers.
While Sombra’s gel is very effective, it’s worth mentioning that it causes quite a strong heat sensation. Combine this with the fact it’s liquid, and using too much too quickly can be quite uncomfortable. The manufacturer recommends using very small amounts up to 4 times a day for optimum results.
5. Avena Active Muscle Rub
Avena’s muscle rub is marketed as a muscle protecting balm. In other words, you can apply it before a workout or sports game to warm up muscles and prevent injury.
However, since it uses similar pain relieving and muscle warming ingredients, it can still be used afterwards to reduce pain and discomfort in a very similar way to the other products on our list.
Another all natural rub, this time based on beeswax, Avena is very popular with triathletes and uses botanicals including cosmetic grade sweet almond, lavender oil, thyme oil, vitamin E and more.
The presence of rosemary oil also helps the muscle rub to reduce pain caused by cramps and muscle spasms, thanks to rosemary’s ability to lower blood pressure and increase circulation.
Avena is completely against animal testing and does not purchase ingredients from companies that test on animals, which is a benefit in itself for many.
6. Tiger Balm Red Ointment
One of the oldest and most recognisable balms in the world, Tiger Balm’s red ointment remains one of the best pain relief creams in the UK. And since it was originally formulated for Thai boxers and is still popular with them to this day, you know it does the trick when it comes to muscular aches and pains!
Be sure to go for the red ointment though, as it’s especially made for muscular aches and pains. Other colour-coded tiger balms are made for other specific issues, so won’t target pain as effectively.
Made from a traditional combination of camphor oil, clove oil, mint oil, and cajuput oil, the balm provides temporary relief from pain and tenderness and provides a relaxing warming sensation.
The creators recommend using it up to 4 times a day for best results and advise avoiding water before and after application.
7. Oomeo Lavender Muscle Rub
A strong scent of lavender means this product may be your best option if your pains are keeping you up at night.
Ingredients include skin-soothing apricot kernel oil, shea butter, castor oil and coconut oil; inflammation fighting ginger oil, arnica flower oil, witch hazel, and dozens more natural ingredients focused around general skin health and circulation. This blend covers most botanical bases to help quickly and comprehensively relieve pain.
Add the strong scent of natural sleep-promoting and stress-busting lavender oil to the mix, and it’s an ideal way to unwind after a long day of sport, running or work.
Oomeo is a brand focused on creating a wide range of effective balms based on natural ingredients - and offer a surprising variety from beard balm to aromatherapy. This experience means you can count on them to create a high quality, effective product - and they claim that their lavender muscle rub is so natural you can even use it on pets and children!
8. Radian-B Muscle Rub
In our search for the answer to the question: “what is the best muscle pain relief cream in the UK?”, this is our final selection.
It is quite an interesting choice, because while it offers similar muscle-warming and soothing benefits to other products on this list, it can also be used for itching, inflammation and skin irritation.
Most muscle rubs directly advise against this sort of use because of the risk of infection, combined with many of them including ingredients that could cause irritation to broken skin such as ginger. Radian-B is specifically created to be effective for this kind of use, meaning it doesn’t just work on aching muscles, but can be used on bruises and rashes too.
Combining menthol with capsicum oleoresin and camphor, it can widen the blood vessels under the skin, reducing pain and itching with a rapidly soothing cool feeling.
The product has a wide range of positive reviews from multiple different use cases, from sciatic and arthritis to broken arms.
This versatility combined with a great price makes Radian-B an easy choice for our list, even if it does miss out some of the more fast-acting ingredients like the CBD found in our #1 pick.
How to use muscle relief cream
First, choose a high quality muscle relief cream that includes effective natural ingredients and no nasty additives, alcohol or parabens.
Our above picks for the best muscle relief balms in the UK should make this very easy and we highly recommend sticking to one of these 8 picks. However, if you decide to go for your own choice of another product, be sure to do your research first as there are many low quality products out there that in many cases may do nothing at all.
Once you have made your choice and purchased a muscle balm, it’s important to keep it away from your eyes, mouth, genitals and other sensitive areas (and yes, this even applies to Radian-B regardless of its suitability for itchy skin).
Then, simply follow these steps:
- Wash the relevant area thoroughly with warm water and soap to remove any dirt, grime or contaminants that may reduce or change the effectiveness of the product. Dry thoroughly afterwards as some products cannot be mixed with water.
- Apply the cream or balm to the muscle or body part in question, slowly and gently massaging it in. Follow the instructions on the product’s packaging at this stage and do not use more or less than recommended.
- Wash your hands immediately to avoid any potential irritation or side effects
- Repeat step 2 up to 4 times a day, unless otherwise stated on packaging.
Are muscle pain relief creams safe?
All of the muscle balms on this list are made from natural ingredients and therefore are not harmful.
However, this is dependent on safe use and following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Outside of this, the most important pieces of advice to remember are:
- Do not use on children under 12 years old, unless advised by a doctor or the manufacturer
- Do not apply to warm skin or apply while near a heat source such as a radiator. All of these products have muscle warming effects which can become uncomfortable or dangerous when combined with another heat source.
- Do not apply to irritated or sunburnt skin unless the manufacturer advises it is safe.
Can I use muscle pain relief creams when pregnant?
The simple answer is yes - pregnant women can use most muscle relief balms without concern.
All products on our list are non toxic and have minimal systemic absorption rate, so the risk of fetal toxicity is extremely low.
Of course, some other products may differ, so do your research and never use a product without consulting your GP if unsure.
CBD Oil UK 2023 – Takeaway
For the best Muscle Rubs in the UK topical industry, we recommend our top 3:
#2 Balmy Fox
#3 The Oil Hut
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