Teen Dies After Using Muscle Soreness Rub
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Teen Dies After Using Muscle Soreness Rub

A New York teen cross-country runner is reported to have died after using large quantities of a muscle soreness rub. According to various news stories, the medical examiner concluded she died after using too much Bengay cream containing methyl salicylate.

Methyl salicylate is a natural oil of wintergreen (betula oil) found in plants. It is used in many muscle rubs and creams to dilate blood vessels to bring blood to the area and redden the skin.

Deaths are rare, but salicylate poisoning is not rare or unknown. Poisonings using medicated oils account for "48% of acute salicylate poisoning cases treated in the general medical ward of the Prince of Wales Hospital" in Hong Kong (Vet Hum Toxicol. 1996 Apr;38(2):133-4.) Another study comparing severe salicylate poisoning from aspirin or topical oils found that the oils pose "the threat of severe, rapid-onset salicylate poisoning" because of the concentrated form and lipid solubility of the methyl salicylate in the rubs (Postgrad Med J. 1996 Feb;72(844):109-12.)

Some muscle rubs and balms contain other toxic ingredients, such as turpentine oil and camphor. The various preparations all "work" in various ways to relieve pain or mask it. I will cover more about the different soreness creams and preparations from around the world, their ingredients, and how they work in posts to come. The book Healthy Martial Arts covers ingredients in detail, how they work, and more on soreness and training.

Soreness in the muscles is common and normal after energetic activity. Muscle soreness does not just occur in the out-of-shape. However, your joints should not be sore after workouts.

If your joints (not muscles) are sore after activity, you may be using body mechanics that put joints in positions that grind or rub. You may also be shifting weight off your muscles onto your joints to make the exercise easier. Your joints should not be sore, hot, or swollen after any activity.

Here are a few ideas to avoid joint pain during or following activity:

To reduce knee joint stress during daily good bending (half-squat):
Free Exercise and Free Back and Knee Pain Prevention - Healthy Bending
and Bending Right is Fitness as a Lifestyle

Reduce knee joint stress in full squat:
Achilles Stretch in the Bathroom

Reduce knee joint stress when running, walking, jumping:
Healthy Knees

Reduce lower spine stress when reaching, running, walking:
Back Pain in Pregnancy - and Why Men Can Get It
the post tells why and has links to show how to restore the spine to neutral to stop the pain then and there,
and Change Daily Reaching to Get Ab Exercise and Stop Back and Shoulder Pain

Reduce lower spine stress when sitting and bending:
Disc Pain - Not a Mystery, Easy to Fix

Reduce upper back and neck pain:
Are You Making Your Exercise Unhealthy?

Shoulder and rotator cuff:
Safer Overhead Military Press
and Upper Back Exercise and Neck Pain Prevention Too

Click the labels under each post to show all posts on that topic.
Sincere wishes to the family of this young girl.

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.