Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm aims to help sooth the pain and tenderness you can get from climbing hard. It’s made with natural ingredients and has a kick of menthol. I’ve been trying it out to see if it keeps my hands in good shape.
The idea is that applying Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm relieves pain, stiffness or tenderness in muscles, joints and tendons affected by overuse and/or injury. A combination of natural (and nearly all organic) ingredients is meant to sink into the skin to help sooth and heal. These ingredients are:
- Safflower oil;
- Shea butter;
- Carnauba wax;
- Camphor oil;
- Argan oil;
- Glucosamine peppermint oil;
- Eucalyptus oil;
- Rosemary oil extract; and
- Vitamin E.
I really like that the ingredients of a Giddy balm are all natural and not just a bunch of strange sounding chemicals. I also like that Giddy explain on their website what all of these ingredients are and what they’re meant to do. It’s great that they want to help their customers understand the products they are using on their bodies.
I would be repeating a lot of this information on the Giddy website if I described all of the ingredients in the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm, but there a few ingredients it’s worth me saying something about.
The first item on the list of ingredients, and so the most used in the balm, is safflower oil. This is made from the seeds of safflowers and is used in cooking and cosmetics. Safflower oil has a high concentration of linoleic acids and these are meant to have a range of health benefits. Giddy say that they use safflower oil “it sinks in fast, is highly unlikely to clog pores, and still works as an incredible moisturizing agent.”
The next item on the list is Shea butter. This is a fat made from a nut. It moisturises and softens the skin. Shea butter contains Vitamins A, E and F, which are good for skin health.
The carnauba wax in the balm comes from the leaves of a palm native to Brazil. It’s used in cosmetics because it’s hypoallergenic (i.e. causes fewer allergic reactions) and a moisturiser. It’s also insoluble in water and melts at a high temperature. This higher melting point is why carnauba wax is used to coat sweets to ensure that they don’t melt in your hand. Giddy says that this makes their balms less greasy than other balms that are mostly based on beeswax.
These ingredients all help the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm be good for your skin, but the ingredient you are most likely to notice when you first apply this balm is menthol. It’s this ingredient that means the smell of this balm has a kick and which causes a tingling, cooling sensation when it’s applied. Giddy explains:
“In the same way that hot peppers trigger your body’s heat receptors without actually inducing a chemical heat change, menthol tricks your body’s cold receptors. This reaction in turn activates a cooling sensation which helps to promote numbing of minor aches and pains.”
This cooling sensation works as a counter-irritant – providing pain relief by using a different sensation to distract you from the pain you are experiencing.
A quick Google search reveals a few other reputed effects of menthol. Menthol apparently has some local anesthetic properties. It’s said to create vasodilation, so drawing more blood into the area where it is applied. This is said to promote healing of increasing the amount of oxygen reaching the site of the problem. However, I’m afraid that I don’t have any medical training and so can’t really judge the accuracy of whether menthol does or does not do these things. I am a bit skeptical though about the idea that it can help in muscle healing as I suspect that there will be a limit to how far into muscles something applied to the skin can sink.
What it’s like to use
Last year Giddy sent me the beta version of this balm to try out. Earlier this year they sent me the final version to put through a more long-term test. Since then I’ve been using it on my hands after climbing sessions at my local wall as well as after bouldering in the Peak District and at Fontainebleau.
I’ve perhaps been a bit limited in my ability to give this balm an extensive assessment by the fact that I have managed to not really injury myself recently. It’s a little tricky to tell how well something sooths pain if you aren’t really hurting. The best (or worst) I have been able to do is to try Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm out on a few muscle twinges and mild aches I got on my recent trip to Fontainebleau.
During my testing I followed a tip I was given by Ben at Giddy to apply the Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm to my fingers after a good climb and then massage my fingers with an acupressure ring (AKA finger massage ring). Giddy say that:
“The GIDDY finger massage ring is the perfect tool to relieve pressure in your tendons and restore blood circulation in your fingers.”
Acupressure rings are essentially a stainless steel wire bent into a circle of triangular shapes. You use an acupressure ring by rolling it up and down each of your fingers. The pressure provided by the ring and the action of the bends in the wire rolling along acts to massage your finger. It’s a deeply weird sensation at first and still a bit weird even when you are more used to it. However, it’s also slightly pleasant and after I’ve finished using an acupressure ring my fingers do have that invigorated feeling you get after a massage.
Acupressure rings are used in Chinese medicine. I’ve also seen references to climbers using them before climbing to warm up and after climbing to provide relief (there is a glowing review of acupressure rings by a rock climber on the To Defy Gravity blog).
The idea of using both the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm as well as an acupressure ring is that you get the benefits of both and the balm acts as a lubricant. (Sorry – there’s no way to say this without it sounds a bit rude and suggestive, but then lubricating your fingers before rubbing something up and down them is a bit suggestive.) I certainly felt that using both the acupressure ring and the balm was doing more than using the balm alone.
As best I can tell during my un-injured testing, the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm did a fairly good job of relieving pain and tenderness. My hands have felt noticeably better after hard climbing sessions since I started using this balm and the acupressure ring. For example, I sometimes get cramps in my hands after an outdoor climbing session and I haven’t suffered from this recently. However, I have no way of knowing if there is a causal link here or if it’s just an association.
This balm is also straightforward to use. It readily melts on your hands and so is easy and quick to apply. The beta version I tried last year had fairly poor absorption, leaving a slightly waxy layer on your skin. This issue has been addressed with this final version (possibly because it doesn’t contain beeswax like the beta version). Although it leaves a bit of a shine, any oiliness goes relatively quickly. It leaves your hands feeling nicely moisturised and does so for some time.
There is an immediate cooling sensation from the menthol and this lasts for a surprisingly long time. As this balm lingers on the skin for a while, I’d advise scratching, rubbing or otherwise touching anywhere sensitive for a while after application.
It has a strong smell with a sharp kick of menthol and some things I can’t quite identify. The menthol is so strong that it creates a tingling sensation in my eyes and nose when I open the tin and apply it.
I’ve used the same scoring system here as I’ve used in my previous reviews so that the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm can be compared against other balms (although, as this is a muscle balm, there is a limit to how much of a comparison can be made with some balms). This system uses several different measures of the effectiveness of each balm and gives each a score out of ten (with 1 being poor and 10 being fantastic) against each measure.
- Application – how easy the product is to apply to the hands.
- Absorbency – how quickly the product absorbs into the skin and/or stops leaving your hands feeling oily or greasy.
- Longevity – how long the product keeps your hands feeling nice and moisturised.
- Smell – this is my estimation of how pleasant, or not, the product smells. It’s a pretty subjective measure, but it’s important, as your hands may smell of a balm for a while after it’s put on.
On this basis, I give the Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm –
The Giddy Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm does a fairly good job of relieving pain and tenderness after a hard climbing session. Combining the use of the balm with the use of an acupressure ring also invigorates tired fingers. It’s easy to apply and absorbs well to leave your hands feeling moisturised and good.
Declaration: Giddy gave me free samples of the Joint, Tendon and Muscle Balm, acupressure rings and other products specifically for this review. This hasn’t influenced my opinion.