FITNESS freaks usually turn to deep heat to relieve the pain of a tiresome workout.
But a new study suggests that it has additional unknown benefits for improving exercise.
Researchers say that rubbing the cream onto the bum, thighs or feet before a workout could help you keep going for longer.
The team at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested their theory using a bunch of male athletes.
Each volunteer participated in two trials. In the first, each man applied a thin layer of an over-the-counter deep heat cream to his calves, thighs and bum – the major muscle groups of the lower body – and feet.
The men were then instructed to cycle on an exercise bike at 80 per cent of their effort until they were too tired to continue.
In the second experiment, the men applied a dummy cream before the exact same workout.
The research team measured the volunteers' time-to-exhaustion in both conditions.
Men were able to exercise for an average of about two minutes longer when using the deep heat cream.
It contains ingredients such as methyl salicylate, menthol, glyceryl stearate, eucalyptus and turpentine oils, lanolin and water.
The UK company Deep Heat says that using it before exercise can “increase blood flow which can help increase the flexibility of muscles”.
Some runners swear by it as a means to improve their distance but it doesn't appear to have been proven by science.
The findings of this study have not been published in a journal yet.
"Application of deep heat [cream] may help elite athletes, recreational and/or sports enthusiasts to improve their aerobic performance," said Dr Govindasamy Balasekaran, an associate researcher and first author of the study.
"More studies are needed to explore the benefits of application of deep heat on exercise performance for both [sexes] and analyse the physiological mechanisms behind the improvement."
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