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Category Archives: Health And Hygiene

Nutrition, chamois creams, performance products, and pain-relieving ointments for cyclists.

Muscle Pain? Try Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

Biofreeze is a topical analgesic I use to help me deal with muscle aches and occasional problems like Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. A lot of people use Biofreeze for arthritis, but since I don’t have arthritis I really can’t tell you how well it works for that.

You have probably heard of cryotherapy before (the application of cold to temporarily relieve pain). Biofreeze is applied directly to the skin and works in a similar fashion to an ice pack, except that with an ice pack your movements are severely restricted. The active ingredient in Biofreeze is menthol (which is also responsible for its pleasant smell).

You can buy Biofreeze in different forms (gel, spray, wipes) and sizes. I purchased the gel in a 32-ounce bottle with a built-in pump. A few years ago I bought an ultrasound unit to help me deal with plantar fasciitis. The physical therapist who taught me how to use the machine suggested I apply Biofreeze just before I had ultrasound therapy. This combination really seemed to work well for me. If you read the reviews for this product that people leave on Amazon.com it seems like everyone is extremely happy with this product (it has a five-star rating which is something you don’t see very often in Amazon’s product reviews).

Biofreeze is available without a prescription, but you will probably have to visit a chiropractor or physical therapist to buy it locally since it is usually not available at pharmacies or regular retail outlets. However, Amazon.com has it in a variety of sizes. Here are the best prices I’ve found: A 4-ounce tube retails for $20, but they have it for $8, while a 32-ounce bottle retails for $90, but they have it for just $41. It is also available in individual packages—a box of 36 5-gram travel packs retails for $25, but they it for about half that price.

 

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Nair Shower Power For Men (II)

Nair Shower Power For Men Hair Remover

Nair Shower Power For Men

I wrote this article two years ago, but since spring is finally here I thought it was worth reprinting since a lot of guys will be doing some manscaping real soon…

Sorry ladies, but this product review is not for you. There is nothing in this post that would be of the least bit of interest to you. Please do yourself a favor and skip this post and come back next week.

OK guys, now that the ladies are out of the room, let me tell you how lucky we are. Guys often joke about the reason their wife or girlfriend is in a bad mood. I have decided that female mood swings have nothing to do with hormones—they are just ticked off by the fact they have to shave their legs!

I’ve been cycling for ten years and had never thought about shaving my legs until this year. There are many reasons cyclists shave their legs, such as making your legs easier to massage, easier clean-up when you crash, and sometimes just to make your muscles pop. I decided to shave my legs so I could use embrocation creams when I ride in the rain or in cold weather (I like the DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream).

My legs are about as hairy as Bigfoot, so I trimmed them with a body groomer first. The very thought of shaving my legs with a razor conjured up images of the bloody shower scene in Scarface. So, I decided to skip the razor and take the easy route with Nair Shower Power For Men. This is a chemical product (like lye) that you apply to your legs, wait a few minutes, and then wash off the chemicals (and your leg hair) in the shower. The directions are easy to follow and if you follow them correctly most of your leg hair will be gone. However, along with the hair you are also going to lose a layer of skin and have chemical burns that make you look like you’ve worked in a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor. In addition, the next day you will probably have red bumps all over your legs due to ingrown hairs.

A 5.1 ounce tube of Nair Shower Power For Men sells for around $10 and is good for about two applications. I’ve used this product twice and will not be trying it again.

After talking with other cyclists I decided to try another product, Nair For Men Body Cream. This product is about half the price of Nair Shower Power For Men and is a bit easier on your skin, but still nothing I would recommend—too many ingrown hairs.

Finally, I decided to just shave my legs with a disposable razor. However, since I did not want ingrown hairs I shaved them with a Bump Fighter Razor, a product usually used by African-American men to prevent ingrown facial hairs. This product worked like a charm! The Bump Fighter Razor is not sold everywhere—I found mine at a local CVS Drugstore and then ordered the refills from Amazon.com. In addition to being a great razor the Bump Fighter Razor is a lot cheaper than Gillette Mach 3 razors and gives a better shave and I haven’t had an ingrown hair since I started using them.

 

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Andy Pruitt’s Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists

Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists

Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists

I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago and some of the greatest medical schools in the nation are located just a short drive from my house. I’ve been able to a lot of spend time with several young medical students and I have to tell you they are the brightest people I’ve ever met in my life! However, as brilliant as these med students are, they are never going to learn everything about medicine (and they will all quickly tell you that). Even physicians who have practiced for many years will sometimes have trouble diagnosing conditions they are not familiar with. Unless your physician specializes in sports medicine they are probably ill-equipped to deal with some of the routine problems cyclists encounter. The one book that has helped me more than anything else with medical and physical problems related to cycling is Andy Pruitt’s Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists.

While the title of the books says “complete medical guide” it really deals more with “physical therapy” than with medicine, but that is fine with me—diagnosing medical problems from just reading a book a few entries on WebMD can be rather dangerous.

The first four chapters of this book deal with how to properly fit your bike by adjusting saddle position, handlebar position and cleats (or pedals). In my opinion, the majority of medical problems cyclists encounter begin a poorly fit bike. Pruitt explains how to find your ideal position on the bike and this alone is worth the price of the book.

The second section of the book deals with “Remedies For Cycling Injuries” and it covers the majority of things that cause us pain, such as patellar tendonitis, back pain, Achilles tendonitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, saddle sores, and road rash. Pruitt not only explains the cause of these problems, but offers suggestions on how to overcome them.

The last section of the books deals with “Getting The Most Out Of Cycling” and discusses issues such as overtraining, weight loss, performance testing, developing a training program, stretching and rehabilitation.

While this book is very thorough, there are a few things it does not cover, such as cold weather cycling (something I tend to spend a lot of time doing). I have yet to find a book that deals specifically with winter cycling—most of what I know about this topic has come from trial and error (a lot of error) and from reading some of the “adventure cycling” books where experienced cyclists tell you about how they overcame problems with things like hypothermia and frostbite.

One section of the book I do disagree with is the chapter on “Health Maintenance” (chapter 15). Pruitt devotes just five short paragraphs to vitamin supplements and his basic opinion is that cyclists “get all the vitamins they need from their daily meals.” However, in the next chapter (“Aging and the Cyclist”) he does mention the need for older cyclists (you know who you are) to take omega-3 fatty acids, acetyl-L-carnitine and absorbable diindolylmethane (DIM) for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Reasonable people can disagree, but I am a firm believer in vitamin supplements—and if you don’t like the idea of taking supplements, well, don’t take them.

Andy Pruitt’s Complete Medical Guide For Cyclists is published by VeloPress and retails for $19, but you can find it on Amazon.com for around $12. This 6″x9″ paperback book is well illustrated with photographs throughout and has 224 pages. This book will benefit any cyclist, regardless of how long they have been cycling—from “weekend warriors” to distance cyclists.

 
 

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ShowerPill: The Athletic Body Wipe

ShowerPill: The Athletic Body Wipe

ShowerPill Body Wipe

One of the biggest hindrances to folks cycling to work is that most of us do not have access to a shower at our place of employment. You could use a Wet-Nap to clean up a bit—the fresh lemon scent is great, but it does a terrible job of removing grime, dirt and body odors. A few weeks ago the folks at ShowerPill sent me a box of their moistened body wipes and in my opinion this is the best body wipe on the market!

ShowerPill is not really a pill, but a 9×8″ moistened body wipe—it’s alcohol free and infused with Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel and Vitamin E. Most hand or body wipes contain alcohol and this quickly causes your skin to dry out. Instead of using alcohol ShowerPill wipes contain Benzalkonium Chloride, an antibacterial agent that kills 99.99% of common germs, including the germs that cause odor. Since the Upper Midwest has been unusually hot this summer I’ve had plenty of opportunities to use ShowerPill and am extremely happy with how they work. I’ve also given a couple of these wipes to other cyclists to see how they liked them.

Since most of my road rides start and end in my driveway, I decided to try the ShowerPill on days when I put a mountain bike on my Jeep and headed out to the off-road bike trails. Due the drought conditions in my area the off-road trails are incredibly dusty—when I got home from one ride I was so completely covered with dust that my wife asked my if I had rolled around on the ground! I used the ShowerPill to clean the dust of my legs and arms and they worked better than any other product I’ve tried for this purpose.

I gave a couple of these wipes to a female cyclist who had the misfortune of having the air conditioner at her house break during a heatwave. She had nothing but praise for these wipes, but she did have one suggestion for using the ShowerPill. She said that while they work fine straight out of the package, they work even better if you can moisten your skin with a little water first.

I also gave a few of these wipes to a new cyclist—my youngest son who just got out of the Marine Corps after seven years of honorable service. He did a two-hour bike ride to work on one of the hottest days of the year and said that once he got to his office he used ShowerPill to clean up. He reported that the antibacterial properties in the ShowerPill worked perfectly for the rest of the work day! He also commented that in Iraq these wipes would have been worth their weight in gold to military personnel out on patrol.

ShowerPill wipes are not just for cyclists—any athlete who doesn’t have access to a shower would love this product. They are also great for campers and travelers. Two years ago I got stuck overnight at JFK International Airport and had to sleep on the floor—I would have loved to have had a ShowerPill wipe so I could have cleaned up better before my next flight.

ShowerPill comes in a box of ten individually wrapped wipes and retails for $12.50 a box. The easiest way to buy them is from Amazon.com.

 

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Cool Off Citrus Ice Towelettes

Cool Off Quick Chill Citrus Ice Towelettes

Cool Off Citrus Ice Towelettes

For the past few weeks the weather in the Upper Midwest has been absolutely brutal for cyclists—even if you leave very early in the morning the temperature has hovered around 100 degrees (F) by the time you get home. While there are several ways to keep cool on a ride, I’ve recently started using the Cool Off Citrus Ice Towelettes and they have been a real lifesaver! The single-use Cool Off packets are individually wrapped and are about the same size as a Wet-Nap (2.5″ width x 3.5″ height folded; 6×6″ unfolded).

The instructions for using the Cool Off towelettes are given on the back of each package: “For maximum cooling: Remove towelette and shake lightly. Then press on the back of your neck, inner arms, or back of knees for several seconds to allow the herbal infusion to fully penetrate and build the chill. To reactivate the cool, splash a little water on the skin where you used the towelette.”

The manufacturer claims that “Cool Off can lower the user’s surface skin temperature up to 12 degrees F., maintaining the coolness for over 60 minutes.” After using the product for several weeks I have to agree with their assessment.

Last week we had three straight days with temperatures of over 100 degrees (F) and a friend of mine had the air conditioner in her house break, but decided to stay there anyway. I gave her a couple Cool Off towelettes and the next day she told me the towelettes worked great—and then asked me for a few more of them!

The ingredients list for these towelettes includes Witch Hazel Extract, Alcohol, and Glycerin along with the following extracts: Aloe Vera, Arnica, Sea Weed, Chamomile Flower, Lemon Peel, Red Clover, St John’s Wort, Oat Kernel, Flaxseed, Fennel, Evening Primrose, Wild Yam, Tea Tree, Black Cohosh Root, White Tea Leaf, and natural or organic fixatives (Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butyparaben), Menthol, and Fragrance.

Cool Off Citrus Ice Towelettes are available in several sizes, including packages of 24, 40 or 100. I purchased a bin of 100 towelettes from Amazon.com for $47 and the order was fulfilled by First Aid Global Wholesale. The towelettes are made in USA.

One more note: I’ve read many reviews from women who claim that these towelettes work great for hot flashes caused by menopause. However, I have no way of verifying this claim on my own and am not dumb enough to ask any woman I know to try them out for that purpose.

 

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Honey Stinger Protein Bar

My kind and gracious wife allowed me to take over one of her kitchen cabinets so I can store my nutritional products. The cabinet is 42″ wide and has three shelves. The top shelf is used to store two CamelBak hydration packs and over a dozen water bottles (some are insulated and others have special lids for different types of cycling). The bottom two shelves are used to store 20 to 30 boxes of the different carbohydrate products I eat while cycling (I buy my favorite products in bulk). While I use several different brands of carbohydrate products during a ride, I only keep one brand of protein bar in the cabinet for after a ride—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar.

Honey Stinger Protein Bar 10g

Honey Stinger Protein Bar

Let’s make this easy—the Honey Stinger Protein Bar is absolutely the best tasting protein bar I’ve ever tried! These bars come in two sizes (10g or 20g of protein). These bars are made with over 30% USDA certified organic honey, either 10g or 20g of high quality whey protein isolate, 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium and antioxidants.

Cyclists usually eat protein bars immediately after a ride to aid in muscle recovery. The problem is that most protein bars are simply dreadful! However, the 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are so delicious you will find yourself craving them. When I am running late in the morning I eat these bars for breakfast, and they are my favorite snack at the movies (I can’t watch a movie without one). One warning: the chocolate layer on the outside of these bars has a low melting point, so don’t leave them in a hot car or the chocolate will melt (it will still taste good though).

In the past year I’ve bought over a dozen boxes of these bars—all in the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond flavor. I knew Honey Stinger made other flavors, but this one is so good I never even thought about buying any other flavor. A few weeks ago the good folks at Honey Stinger sent me samples of the other flavors for review purposes, and while I liked all of them, the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond is in a class all by itself—it is simply awesome! You can actually see (and taste) bits of dried sour cherries in the bar.

The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars are available in four flavors: Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Dark Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta. The 20g bars are only available in Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond and Chocolate Coated Peanut Butta.

The ingredients for each of these bars varies slightly, so I will just give the ingredients list for the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond: Semisweet Dark Chocolate [Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soya Lecithin, and Vanilla]; Organic Honey; Whey Protein Isolate; Almond Butter; Dried Sour Cherries (Cherries, Apple Juice, Sunflower Oil); Almonds; Vitamins & Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vit C), Alpha-tocopherol Acetate (Vit E), Biotin, Zinc Oxide, Niacin, Ferrous Fumarate (Iron), Molybdenum Glycinate, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper, Manganese, Beta Carotene (Vit A), Selenium, Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Chromium, Cyanocobolamin (B12), Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide]; and Natural Flavor.

Honey Stinger Protein Bars are made with 25% organic ingredients. The are also made with gluten-free ingredients and contain no soy products. These bars are available at many local bike shops, REI stores, Amazon.com and from the Honey Stinger Website. The 10g Honey Stinger Protein Bars retail for $2.20 each, or in a box of 15 for under $33.

 

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Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

A few weeks ago one of the readers of this blog suggested that I try the Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars, so I ordered a variety pack of the bars from the manufacturer, PROsnack Natural Foods, Inc. These bars were invented by a mother who was a “nutritional health food caterer for athletes and sports teams” when she wanted to “create the world’s simplest protein snack.” Well, she succeeded! Elevate Me! bars are easy on the stomach, taste great, and deserve a place in the cupboard of every cyclist.

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! Protein And Fruit Energy Bar

Elevate Me! bars are about the size of a candy bar, but that is about the only thing the two bars have in common. These bars weigh 66 grams each and are made with 24% protein and whole fruits. They are also gluten-free, wheat-free, low-fat, and contain no added sweeteners, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. In addition to 16 grams of protein, each bar has about 33 grams of carbohydrates.

The variety pack I bought contained twelve bars—a mix of the following flavors: Strawberry Apple Pie, Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie, Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost!, Matcha Green Tea with Cranberries, Espresso Cocoa Crunch, Banana Nut Bread, Cocoa Coconut Cluster, and All-Fruit Original. While I liked all the bars, the Chocolate Acai Berry Brownie was my favorite. The Espresso Cocoa Crunch was OK, but I am not a coffee drinker and don’t usually like anything made with coffee beans.

I won’t take the time to give the ingredients list for each flavor of Elevate Me! bar, but will list the ingredients for the Blueberry Cranberry Gojiberry Boost bar as an example: Whey protein isolate, dates, organic raisins, almonds, apples, cranberries (cranberries, apple juice, sunflower oil), blueberries, and goji berries. These bars may contain traces of peanuts and/or soy. All bars are certified organic.

As a distance cyclist I usually consume carbohydrate products during the first two hours of a ride, and then start adding a bit of protein every hour during the rest of the ride. While I will never be willing to confine myself to just one brand of energy bar, I am really glad to have these bars with me on my longer rides. These bars taste like real food—unlike some bars that taste more like a high school chemistry experiment that went horribly wrong.

Elevate Me! protein and fruit energy bars are a product of Canada and I bought the variety pack from the PROsnack Natural Foods Website for $25, plus postage. At the moment these bars are not available on Amazon.com, but it looks like they will be before long.

 

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