I’ve tried out a lot of products in the past that are said to aid muscle recovery and reduce soreness, from bath soaks to arnica creams. None of them were noticeably effective at all, and in any instances where I detected a negligible difference in my recovery, I could never say with any kind of certainty that my recovery was down to a single product; it could just as likely have been due to eating better or getting more sleep.
Except for one.
There is one muscle recovery product that stands out above all others, for consistently delivering significant and unquestionable results. That product is Recovery Spray by Awesome Supplements.
I hardly ever write an article that features only one product. But this is entirely warranted (and unsponsored, by the way).
Before I continue raving about this particular spray, here’s what you need to know about transdermal supplementation...
Transdermal Absorption: The Science
As suggested by the name, a recovery spray is a topical product, applied (sprayed) onto the skin.
‘Transdermal’ refers to applying an active ingredient to your skin, so that it can be absorbed into your body; ‘trans’ meaning ‘through’, and ‘dermal’ referring to skin.
Ingredients applied transdermally can fall into two broad categories: those that are applied for localised action, such as cosmetic skincare or anti-inflammatory gels; and those that are applied for systemic effects, such as nicotine patches and even some types of hormonal contraceptives.
Traditional methods of taking medicines and supplements, such as in tablet or capsule form, require the ingredients to pass through your stomach. However, the action of stomach acids and digestive enzymes can reduce bioavailability and uptake significantly, so that only very small amounts of the active ingredient may actually reach your bloodstream.
By bypassing your stomach and liver using transdermal methods, a much greater percentage of the active ingredient goes straight into your bloodstream where it’s needed.
Note: it’s worth considering that chemicals that come into contact with your skin through cheap cosmetics and harsh cleaners can also find their way into your body far more easily, in comparison to toxins that are ingested and filtered through organs like the liver, before they reach the body’s tissues. So if you’re looking to improve your health, you may benefit from carefully considering the products that you come into contact with as part of your lifestyle.
So, introducing my favourite transdermal product...
Recovery Spray by Awesome Supplements Review
Awesome Supplements is founded by Ben Coomber - a nutritionist and general educator on how to live a better life. It was through listening to Ben’s podcast years ago (which I highly recommend if you want to educate yourself about health, nutrition, fitness, and performance enhancement) that I first became aware of the benefits of using a topical recovery formula.
The first time I tried Recovery Spray, it had a slightly different formulation and was sold under the brand ‘Transdermal Technology’. It has now been integrated into the Awesome Supplements range.
I really respect Awesome Supplements as a brand as it’s built upon some important values that I am hugely passionate about upholding, but can so often be lost in this industry: integrity, honesty, knowledge and genuine value.
What’s in Recovery Spray?
Otherwise, here’s a recap from Awesome Supplements:
During intensive training and at times of stress we deplete our magnesium and zinc levels beyond that of normal day-to-day life, and we need to replace these essential nutrients to keep on top of performance, enhance recovery and support our wellbeing. Stress depletes magnesium, and magnesium insufficiency can increase stress markers – you can see where that leads.
Both minerals are used during the process of muscle contractions, and are therefore vital for maintaining force production and power output during exercise. Aside from this, depletion of these minerals (amongst others) is one cause of post exercise cramp.
Finally, zinc and/or magnesium deficiency can easily lead to poor sleep quality, meaning that your recovery is taking a hit.
People have used ZMA supplements for over 40 years in the fitness world to enhance recovery by ensuring they do not become deficient in these two minerals, but there are valid arguments to suggest that transdermal supplementation has fewer flaws...
For example, inconsistencies in bioavailability between different forms of magnesium is a concern, and something that I hope to write more about in the near future, but bypassing your digestive system through the topical use of magnesium circumvents this, as well as other drawbacks associated with oral supplementation.
The Ingredients in Recovery Spray
The full ingredients list states:
Zechstein sourced magnesium, polysorbate 20, zinc sulphate, trace elements and minerals combined with essential oils lemon eucalyptus, black pepper, marjoram and rosemary.
The Science behind Recovery Spray
The science behind transdermal application makes sense, and there’s plenty of science to back up the use of magnesium and zinc, but there’s very little research into the use of transdermal magnesium and zinc.
Awesome Supplements only focuses on products that have 100% research backing from studies conducted on humans (not rats or in petri-dishes). However, this is the one product that they sell that doesn’t, and they’re very open and honest about that...
“We believe that everything you do should be done with a basis of evidence, and we also believe that Recovery Spray has that. What it doesn’t have, is a vast body of evidence to support it in peer reviewed journals. Magnesium oil has a lot of anecdotal evidence, white paper research and historical evidence behind it, supported by testimonials from our own customers; and to us, that’s too much to ignore.
”We are looking to have research done on it, but until that becomes available we will always be upfront and admit that all we have to go on is theory from all the available anecdotal evidence on this product, which you can see from all the testimonials we have on Recovery Spray is a lot. We love and value this product, and that’s why we sell it, and one day we hope the data, with our investment, will catch up with what we are all thinking and experiencing.”
There’s not much that is more awesome that a brand being totally honest and transparent, right? Just one more reason that I fully endorse this product.
I totally agree with this way of thinking. Sometimes it takes evidence in peer reviewed journals a long, long time to come to fruition, and that is time in which people could already be benefitting from better supplements, nutritional programmes, or useful therapies. Sometimes you just have to accept that anecdotal evidence can be pretty powerful. (Something reiterated in Dr Perlmutter’s books in my list of Must-Read Books for Better Health.)
The product is incredibly easy to use. Simply spray the oil onto your skin and massage in. Or, for harder to reach areas, I sometimes spray into my hands first before rubbing in.
Generally, I use this product after showering at the gym. If, for example, I’ve trained lower body, I’ll apply around 2 sprays per glute, 2-3 sprays per hamstring, and 4-5 sprays per quad. I then rub in, wash the excess oil off my hands, and leave to absorb while I do my hair/makeup before getting dressed.
I recommend, as does Awesome Supplements, that you apply this to the muscles affected by the training session immediately after you finish training for optimal results.
Where to buy
I live in regret for days if I do not use this product immediately after a tough workout.
After leg day, it is the difference between 5 day DOMS and barely an ache. After sprint training, is the difference between stairs being totally intolerable, and no calf pain at all.
It is honestly one of my essential purchases, to keep me feeling healthy when I’m training hard.