T Nation

Can Someone Explain Liniments?

I’ve seen them for sale but have never really been sure how to use them or if they would be helpful. Can someone explain the concept behind them to me and share any experiences?


they contain substances/drugs that theoretically penetrate into the skin and muscles and releive pain, stimulate blood flow etc. there is a lot of debate on if they really work. my doctor seems to think they are worthless and said any pain releif i get from them is the placebo effect and from the rubbing. that’s all i know

Cressey has preached of their effectiveness. I’m undecided so far.

What I learned while going through my massage program is that the substances used produce either a heating or a cooling effect which triggers an inhibition of the Gate theory.

Basically, on the spine where your nerves go, you have different receptor sites: pain, temperature, and proprioception. If I remember correctly, the pain receptor site is significantly smaller than the temperature receptor, so applying a substance that triggers a response with the thermoreceptors (temperature) will cancel out the pain signal.

As for them doing anything to heal you, they won’t accomplish that.

I suggest using the RICE method for an accute injury to combat swelling, and you can also offset the Gate Theory.

check out this:


love the results not the taste through. . .

From working with horses and liniments, I can tell you this much…

The alcohol/acetone and mint/menthol ingredients and the rubbing motion increase blood flow to the affected area by dilating the capillaries, which actually help to reduce some of the inflammation. The alcohol’s quick evaporation produces a cooling sensation, too.

Human versions are geared toward our thinner skin, as too concentrated a dose CAN blister your skin – so be careful where and how much you use. As an example, Absorbine was created for horses, Absorbine Jr is the human-level version of the same stuff.

So, liminents coupled with RICE makes for a good combo, imho.