The Use of Liniments In Sports

The Use of Liniments In Sports


In the actual sports world, which is normal to involve some kind of physical contact, is pretty important to avoid injuries. Nowadays, the athletes use many products to prevent possible injuries and muscle aches, being the liniments some of the most popular ones.

A liniment is a topical medication, which is applied to the skin. The liniment is thicker than lotions and is used to create friction. It includes a solvent that has to evaporate quickly, such as alcohol or acetone, and almost always, the active component is an aromatic chemical like methyl salicylate, menthol or capsaicin.

The main goal of these oils is to avoid lesions. They can be used to heat up or cool down your muscles, depending on the active component. When its purpose is to heat up, it has to be used before every workout session or an intensive activity.

These allow the skin to breathe, create a warm sensation which refreshes the skin pores, and help the muscles in their relaxation and recovery. Also, they reduce the pain produced by lesions like sprains and other medical conditions like arthritis. Besides these functions, liniments avoid the muscle spasms and help to the cicatrization process. A side benefit of the use of liniments is that these help to improve the oxygen intake, generating an increase in the alertness.

The use of liniments in sports is increasing every day that passes. Is pretty important for any sportsmen and athlete to prevent lesions and relieve the consequences that appear with the workouts. Every sport, from soccer to snowboard and mixed martial arts (MMA) involves a lot of effort and muscle stress.

The liniments have been used in Muay Thai for a long time now, being is a part of the pre-fight ritual. Massaging the fighters with some oils on each corner has become a normal thing to do, considering it as a baptism to prepare the fighter for what is next.

The most common liniment used in sports is called Namman Muay. Its origins are probably the Thai herbal medicine. Its recipe was not known by many people and it was only used just for little boxing circles, passing from generation to generation. In the 60s, it became a worldwide brand with a massive appeal in that world.

An element commonly used to increase the effect of Namman Muay is the Tiger balm because it increases the blood circulation and warms up the pores of the skin. The effect of Tiger balm is limited to the nerves of the muscles, while Namman Muay acts in the whole muscle. Tiger balm is used on the forehead and the neck to relieve headaches and mental symptoms like stress.

Athletes must be careful when they use Namman Muay or other liniments because its active components could be dangerous for the consumer. Usually, their use is unregulated and some of them like methyl salicylate could be carcinogenic.

The International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) warned to its fighters about the use of these oils on their faces. They need to avoid contact with the eyes and open wounds. Also, they prevent the fighters from covering more than 40% of their bodies with liniments that include methyl salicylate in its mix.

Liniments are used for thoroughbred horses too. These are diluted on hot water for a post-workout-wash, helping to cool down the muscles of the horse. Basically, it has the same effects than those in humans. Liniments are used as a disinfectant for the hoofs and to prevent skin infections too.

Many farmers swear that liniments for horses have more benefits when they are used on humans. Actually, some of them use the slogan "for men and beasts" as an advertising. Absorbine, a line of liniments for horses, adapts its recipe for humans, creating a product by the name of Absorbine Jr.

The theory "if it works for my horse, it will work for me" is not totally true. Some medicaments for horses are not approved for the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and can have insecure ingredients for humans. Products with Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) must be avoided by humans because its use is dangerous due to its penetration into the bloodstream, carrying all the possible impurities of the product.   

If you are going to use a liniment for horses, make sure to read carefully the label before doing so. You need to be sure it only has natural products like menthol, chloroxylenol, or iodine, which are used for humans too. Of course, first of all, consult your doctor.

The liniments are great to prevent injuries and reduce muscle aches. As any medicament, you need to use it under medical control and just the proper amount. You always need to make sure to not apply it to your eyes and nose. Remember, its excessive use could lead to serious health problems.