Having a muscle cream, balm, self-heating wrap or heating pad on hand to soothe sore muscles or ease lower-back pain is a must. In a recent study, anti-inflammatory skin cream reduced soreness by 45 percent in the 48 hours after exercise over pain reliever pills [source: WebMD].
The ingredients in topical creams and adhesive patches like Icy Hot and Bengay are absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream, meaning you should be stingy with how frequently you apply them. Many contain an ingredient called methyl salicylate which is similar to aspirin, and just like aspirin, it can be toxic in high doses. Be safe -- use anti-inflammatory treatments in moderation. Or instead try remedies such as Tiger Balm or massage.