Here we go again with another Infomercial Insanity – and today I’m going a slightly different route and talking about pain relief, a topic I know that all of you can relate to!

Over the years I’ve seen numerous commercials for IcyHot and watched Shaquille O’Neal rub his pain away with this “miracle” product. The company slogan is “Don’t Mess Around With Pain”. But does it really work? Here’s my take…

Product Pitch

In the commercials you’ll see athletes, moms, and office workers all grab a body part that’s in pain and wince in despair. No problem though – just a quick application of the legendary IcyHot and the pain disappears! The product allegedly relieves muscles strains, back aches and cramps, and even has a scent-free formula…


Rubbing either the cream or the new gel version on an injured or sore area is said to “penetrate deep, with an icy feel to dull the pain, and heat to relax it away”.

You can buy IcyHot in any drug or convenience store for about $5 and it comes in a variety of forms including sleeves, patches, balms and creams.

The Angry Trainer Says:

I’ve personally tried IcyHot and besides the initial sensation it provided, honestly felt nothing. In my case, it didn’t relieve any pain, but it sure did have me ignoring it for a while as I was waiting for something great to happen, and couldn’t figure out when the icy or hot part was going to start!

IcyHot falls into a category of products called non-narcotic analgesics, or pain relievers. The way it’s supposed to work is by interfering with and disrupting the pain signals traveling to the brain from an affected area, hence the use of the icy and hot sensations. In actual fact there is no cold or heat from this product.

It’s similar to drinking coffee, in that the caffeine molecule attaches to brain receptors and prevents you from feeling tired, but when it wears off you crash. Well the same is true here. If you do reach any level of comfort from use, it will wear off and allow those signals to finally reach their destination.

I think people may be mislead into thinking Icy Hot reduces pain or inflammation, and therefore continue exercising or being active. But in my opinion, if it works at all, it’s just blocking pain and giving you a false sense of feeling better, which would lead you to an even more serious injury.

The statement that it “penetrates deep” is also false in my opinion, as IcyHot is a topical agent, meaning it sits on the skin and never actually gets into your bloodstream as other true anti-inflammatory medicines do. The last point I want to make is that pain exists for a reason – to let you know something isn’t right. I don’t think it’s a good idea to throw a blanket over it and cover it up, you need to stop, listen and take action.

If you have a muscle ache, a strain, or an injury, I’d stick with the tried and true remedies: rest, ice, compression and elevation. And if it persists, see your doctor.

The Angry Trainer Says: I’m Not A Fan – Stick To The Home Remedies