Don’t listen to Shaq. While pain-relieving rubs claim to relieve short-term muscle aches and pains and you may be tempted to slather some on after a grueling workout, they can actually be dangerous. Last year, the FDA warned that popular creams like Icy Hot and Bengay have been linked to chemical burns (from first- to third-degree), and an overdose of methyl salicylate (a common active ingredient) can even cause death.
If you’re feeling sore, a cold pack is the time-tested way to get relief. One study found that athletes who sat in an ice bath for 5 minutes (brr!) after a workout reported being 20 percent less sore than those who just rested. You don’t have to fully submerge—just grab an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas). If you just can’t get relief after several days, it’s probably time to see a doctor.
Having trouble with your footwear is awful, plain and simple. Whether you’re constantly stopping to retie or can’t get the compression right, when you’re miserable with every step, it’s natural to think a bungee shoelace might just be the smartest option. Don’t waste your cash.
As it turns out, shoe tying is an art—an art that isn’t too tough to master. If your problem is with laces coming untied, watch this two-minute TED talk (mind: blown). If your problems are more complicated, check out this tried-and-true guide from Runner’s World, which addresses everything from toenail problems to an unstable heel.
Save cash and get your green on with a DIY potion. “Vinegar, water and some lavender or tea tree oil (which has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties) in a small spray bottle is the perfect solution,” Jones said. The solution should be mostly water and vinegar, with a few drops of your preferred oil. For a more precise recipe, try this.
According to Consumer Reports, nearly 40 percent of people who buy home gym equipment—treadmills, stair steppers and stationary bikes alike—end up using it less than they had expected. What's more, each year consumers spend $4 billion on the massive, space-sucking machines. Unless you know yourself (we mean really know yourself) and have an iron will, it's probably best to skip the expensive coat rack.
These weights are relatively inexpensive, are made for all skill levels, and can be used for everything from cardio to bulking up. Plus—they’re small enough to pack away when company comes over. “Just make sure to learn proper technique before you start,” Jones says. If you get hooked to kettlebells, maybe they're your gateway drug to a bigger, badder machine (hello, Bowflex!).
“Women-specific weights are a complete joke,” Jones says, “Don’t even bother with a pink dumbbell.”
Buy weights that are five pounds or heavier (you'll rarely need anything lighter), and don’t be swayed by gender-specific marketing—it means nothing. If you’re hesitant about lifting in general, check out our introductory weight training moves for women, and remember that not only does lifting promote bone health, but it also helps you drop fat—regardless of your gender. But, “women still seem to think lifting will make them bulky, but that’s a complete myth!” Jones says.
Okay, okay—it’s not that your favorite pair or Nikes or Lululemons is actually worthless. But the price of (and logo on) your fitness clothes should never be a deterrent to getting active.
Wear what makes you feel good! And, “if that comes from the Dollar Store, then go for it!,” Jones says. While we won’t go so far as to say the Dollar Store, we do know of 10 great deals on big-box fitness gear.
Yoga towels are marketed with fancy words like “anti-microbial,” “odor-resistant,” and “hypoallergenic,” and marketed to every novice yogi. But unless you’re a Bikram fanatic and are sweating your mat slippery at every class, yoga towels are more waste than worth. Think about it: In 2005, 2.5 billion towels changed hands, according to the New York Times. Do you really need another?
Use anything that absorbs moisture. Really—almost anything will do. Just be diligent about laundry, and when you’re washing your towels, don’t use fabric softener—“it makes towels less absorbent,” Jones says.