Sportique Joint and Muscle Gel Review
I have been using the Sportique Joint & Muscle Gel after leg-shredding rides and find it very effective. What I mean by ‘effective’ needs to be explained, but first, this is what Sportique has to say about the product:
Achy, stiff muscles finally gain relief with an all-natural blend of arnica, ginger, pine and clove. These botanical extracts have proven calming and relaxing properties, reviving strained joints and improving flexibility to relax painful, stressed muscles. Scutellaria, an extract that releases endorphins and calms overactive nerves, is added to maximize relaxation and reduce tightening. You worked hard to get sore, let us work hard to alleviate discomfort.
I realise that it is in vogue to refer to all sorts of emulsion as ‘gel’ these days, but I would describe it as a cream. To me, ‘gel’ calls to mind something that is either translucent or transparent and has a somewhat springy consistency. This is an opaque cream. But, whatever.
It has a pleasant texture with no stickiness. The scent is indicative of the ingredients. Preference for scent is a personal one, but I find the Joint & Muscle Gel smells very pleasant. There is a complete absence of cheap, nasty, synthetic fragrance that is so common amongst these types of products. It reminds me of a hamam in the Engadin, so the Swiss association on the packaging is appropriate albeit in a somewhat roundabout manner.
What I mean by ‘effective’ is as follows. I believe that the act of massage itself matters most and that the topical preparation plays only a minor role. Just to use a cliché for the quantitatively inclined, let’s just say that I think it is 80:20 in favour of the act of massaging. I honestly have no idea whether the chemical properties of the product produce any meaningful benefit. Actually, I am not certain if I care either. It is effective because the pleasant texture and scent encourage me to give myself a massage instead of doing nothing. After a hard ride, it is tempting just to throw the feet up, do nothing and end up with rock hard quads, hams and calves the next day. If the plan involves another ride the next day, you do not want a pair of Japanese cypress beams as legs. The Gel turns a chore into an activity with an element of pleasure. (OK, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not what I’m saying. I am talking about legs, nothing else.)
The self-massage techniques that I found effective are shown below in video clips from Tiger Balm. I find that Tiger Balm Red is effective as embrocation for a finicky knee, but I prefer something with a lighter consistency for a massage.
In Belgium, Sportique products are available from my LBS Velodome.