Icy Hot vs Biofreeze

Written By: Jeremy N

Throughout your training, cross training, competing, and racing, there will be numerous days where your muscles, tendons, or joints are aching. Before anything, it is important to really listen to your body.

If there is something that is too painful to continue training or running on at all then you might want to rest and take a break from your training.

Icy Hot vs Biofreeze - Let's Dive Into the Differences

Icy Hot vs Biofreeze: Which should you choose? This article will help you to learn which pain-relieving cream is best for you and your training and racing.

If the pain does not subside, then it might be beneficial or even necessary to seek medical attention from a professional.

If the pain you are facing is a soreness, tightness, or stiffness, then a pain relieving gel, lotion, or balm could be helpful to your recovery and your training.

It could even benefit you in your competing and racing.

There are multiple different kinds of pain relieving creams, or gels, but two of the most popular brands of pain relieving creams.

Icy Hot Extra Strength Pain Relieving Cream, Temporarily Relieves Minor Pain Associated with Arthritis, Simple Backache, Muscle Strains, Sprains, Bruises, and Cramps, 1.25 Oz

Both have similar results among athletes and what they claim their products do, so how are these products the same and how are they different?

Do they have differences?

Which should you choose?

This article will help you to learn which pain relieving cream is best for you and your training and racing.

What is Icy Hot?

Icy Hot is a product that comes in creams, gels, and balms that can be used to treat minor aches and pains of the muscles and joints, for example arthritis, backache, sprains, and muscle soreness and tightness.

Menthol and methyl salicylate, two of the active ingredients, are known as common counterirritants.

Very similar to Deep Blue Rub gel, they work by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm which causes your pain receptors to temporarily numb or decrease the pain you are feeling.

You can read my full, in-depth review of Icy Hot here

Choice One ICY HOT NO Mess APPLICATOR 2.5OZ CHATTEM Incorporated
246 Reviews
Choice One ICY HOT NO Mess APPLICATOR 2.5OZ CHATTEM Incorporated
  • FEATURES: Cooling sensation to dull your pain, followed by a warming sensation to relieve achy muscles and joints
  • TARGETED RELIEF: For swelling and tenderness of joints, back aches, bruises, sprains, strains
  • FORMULATED: To dry quickly for fast pain relief when and where you need it most
  • FAST ACTING: Cooling menthol liquid relieves minor aches and pains of muscles and joints
  • CONVENIENCE: No-mess applicator, keeps hands clean; On-the-go

How does Icy Hot work?

These specific ingredients mentioned above help to cause a cooling sensation that is followed by a warming sensation.

This sensation distracts you from the pain by blocking pain signals sent to the brain to decrease the pain you are actually feeling.

Icy Hot Original Pain Relieving Balm, 3.5 oz. (Pack of 4)
  • Includes four (4) 3.5-oz. jar of Icy Hot Original Pain Relieving Balm

What are the primary ingredients in Icy Hot?

Icy Hot products contain menthol, a combination of menthol and camphor, and a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate work together to relieve the pain and relax sore muscles.  

The camphor is used often times to in place of salicylate in other icy hot products to reduce pain.

Icy Hot Maximum Strength Medicated Pain Relief Spray, 3.7 Ounces (Pack of 4)
  • INCLUDES: Four (4) spray bottles of Icy Hot Maximum Strength Medicated Pain Relief Spray

What are some possible side effects?

Pain-reliever creams and patches can burn the skin, cautions FDA.

Pain-relieving products applied to the skin, such as Bengay and Icy Hot, can help relieve muscle and joint aches, but in rare cases, they can cause severe chemical burns, the Food and Drug Administration recently warned.

If used in excess they could become dangerous, and if you notice any kind of rash, that could be a sign of an allergic reaction.

You should seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible.

What is Biofreeze?

Biofreeze Pain Relief Spray, 3 oz. Aerosol Spray, Colorless

Biofreeze Professional Pain Relief Gel is a great alternative to other pain relief solutions. It is non-systemic, non-narcotic, contains no NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), salicylates, or addictive substances while still being an incredibly effective pain relief gel.

Biofreeze Professional Pain Relief Gel, 32 oz. Pump, Green

What is Biofreeze made out of?

Biofreeze is made out of Menthol and camphor, but does not use methyl salicylate to try and avoid using any salicylates as many people can be allergic or sensitive to salicylates.

The menthol and the camphor help to block the pain receptors in your brain in order to decrease or numb the pain you are feeling.

The way Biofreeze works is that the fast acting, menthol based formula of Biofreeze provides you powerful pain relief when you apply it to your skin.

It is said that Biofreeze works even better than regular ice, and you can target the area that causes the pain fairly accurately. It also has an amazing smell.

Biofreeze muscle recovery has been a great help during many athletes’ training cycles for their long distance races.

What exactly happens to stop pain?

The cold sensations, like menthol, stimulate receptors to block those signals to relieve pain. 

People use it for sprains, sore muscles, arthritis and all other types of joint pain.  Contrary to popular belief, ice doesn't reduce swelling but it does reduce pain.

Biofreeze induces the exact same response as ice, only faster which is why it works.

What are possible side effects?

One side effect is an allergic reaction to one or more of the ingredients used in the product.

Signs of an allergic reaction can include a rash; hives; itching, red, swollen, blistered, and/or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, and/or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat; and/or very bad skin irritation.

Biofreeze Menthol Spray 3 FL OZ Colorless Aerosol Spray Associated with Sore Muscles, Arthritis, Simple Backaches, and Joint Pain (Packaging May Vary) (1)
  • The 3 fl oz 360° spray bottle features the best spray technology available with continuous flow even when upside down

Icy Hot vs Biofreeze - Conclusion

These two different products are both incredibly helpful pain relieving gels that can be incredibly beneficial to your training. Always remember to seek professional medical advice and help if you are injured.

If you are not injured, both can be used throughout your training before runs and/or work outs in order to help decrease pain and soreness.

If you tend to have more sensitive skin, I highly recommend that you use the Biofreeze over the Icy Hot as the Icy Hot uses methyl salicylate while the Biofreeze does not.

If you prefer to use Icy Hot and have more sensitive skin, they do sell products that do not contain methyl salicylate and instead contain camphor which is a more naturally occurring ingredient.

Hopefully this article will help you to better understand the similarities and differences between the two pain relieving products to better your training. Happy running!

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Jeremy. 

I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods

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