Embrocation Basics: Part II
By: Michael J. Zerinskas
BALM Co. - www.balmco.com
With temperatures dipping below 50° here in Colorado, many cyclists and runners are left pondering days in the gym, hours on fluid trainers, and 8oz curls on the couch. With the right clothing choice and a healthy dose of embrocation, you can ditch those winter blues and be back out on your favorite routes no matter how low the temps go.
In part one, we learned about what embrocation is and why one uses it. In part two, we will learn about the two kinds of embro, the characteristics of each, and when to use them.
The world of Embrocation can often feel like you stumbled into a witch’s dungeon. It’s dark, secretive, and if you touch the wrong thing your skin will bubble and boil off your bones. Well, ok, maybe not that last part, but a little bit of knowledge goes a long way when it comes to Embro.
Here are some general guidelines that will increase your confidence in using embrocation:
Style of Embrocation
There are two main styles of embrocation products: butters and creams.
Butter style embros come in tubs that you will have to scoop the product out of. These embros are meant to leave a thin film upon the applied area to cut through wind and cold. They often provide a smoother, more even heat than creams and work better in wet conditions. While consistencies will vary slightly, butter style embros will be thick like real butter (imagine that).
Cream style embrocation typically comes in easy to dispense, soft Tubes. These embros will massage fully into the skin and leave little to no residue. Cream style embros work well under leg and knee warmers; combined you have a protected heat layer, as well as a layer of protection from the wind. Runners often prefer cream-style embros as well to keep shorts from sticking and binding to the applied area.
Heat levels play a large part in scaring off potential embrocation users. This stems from the simple fact that people are more keen on telling you about their sizzling, misapplication story than the countless times they used embro effectively and non-dramatically. First thing’s first, look at the label. Many embrocations give some indication as to the level of heat a product will provide. Sometimes this comes in the form of a useable degree range (ex: 50-65°), while other companies simply state “Hot,” “Mild,” or “Extreme.”
Use a little bit of common sense when trying a new product; don’t attempt to use a “Hot” embro on a 65° day. Better yet, aim low and try an embrocation that you think may not be strong enough for the conditions and then add leg warmers over them. You will learn quickly about the useable range of a product and do so safely.
I have often found that products labeled as “Warming Creams” tend to have lower heat levels than products labeled “Embrocation.” Treat strong embrocation products with respect and consider using a disposable rubber glove to apply them as well.