Isn’t it strange what brings back memories? Smells definitely do it for me. And when a parcel with a new Deep Heat product arrived for me to try out it wasn’t even smelling the smell that did it, but simply thinking about the smell.
When I was a teenager I absolutely loved playing hockey. It was awesome. I was in the School team, and also played at county level. I did other sports too, lots of them – I competed in triple jump and shot put, ran 800m and 1500m on the track, dabbled in netball and cricket, didn’t do too badly in the U14 badminton league, did a bit of cross country running, hiked a lot, swam indoors and out at every opportunity, and played around with other water sports as much as I was allowed. I wasn’t super talented or going to end up a professional sports women, but I loved being active and competing in teams and for my own personal enjoyment. I wonder if there are any old photos of me getting up to sporting fun, I shall have to have a hunt around.
Anyway. I remember one particular hockey match all too well. Our School team were at a different School playing in a tournament. We were winning (woohoo!) and I was putting every ounce of effort into my play. I was right wing, took a pass from our sweeper, dribbled all the way up the line, and went for the score. As I hit the ball I took a tackle from an opposition player, leaving me totally off balance and causing me to roll over on my knees first and down onto the grass. With no arms to break my fall as both were forward trying to follow through with the hit, I tumbled and landed, knees and then face, on the ground in a heap. Ouch. As I lifted my head up I watched the ball I’d smacked as I fell smack into the back corner of the net – GOAL. Oh yes! But as I tried to leap up in celebration of my part in the team’s success, I fell right back down with my legs underneath me. Oh.
I should say this wasn’t my first hockey injury. Let’s face it hockey isn’t the most dainty of sports, and I have definitely never been accused of being dainty. I loved it because I could use all the power from my large thighs and short frame, but it was the cause of an endless supply of bruises and at least one “hockey stick to the shins” incident. But this particular time was different.
After a few tears and some help off the field my mum took me to the hospital where a doctor with very cold hands (it’s strange what you remember) examined my legs and said “hmmmmm” a lot. Thankfully nothing broken, nothing sprained, which was really great news. But it turned out that while the tackle and subsequent fall hadn’t itself caused any huge problems, it had been the last straw for what was an already weak knee. My poor knee cap was grating, I had water on the knee, and there were signs of juvenile arthritis. That explained a lot of the aches and pains I had experienced and ignored – I’d always had sore knees after exercise but you know, was very man about it all! He manhandled a thick support onto my leg (and I mean manhandled – that thing was SO tight!) and sent me on my way, telling me I needed to seriously cut back on the high impact sports. But they’re the most fun!
As a result of this I was “off sport” for nearly a year, had appointments at the hospital every week for months, first as a one to one with a physiotherapist (ask my sister about what they did to my knee cap – she still goes pale even now), and then in an early morning “group physio session” which was basically a really easy circuits class with various resistance exercises and lots of stretching, after which I would walk to School. Towards the end of that year of recovery I discovered Deep Heat. I was told to apply it to my knees before doing any sport to warm up my muscles and help avoid further complications, and then again afterwards to help my knees relax and recover.
And oh boy did it stink! I have never forgotten that smell, and I am certain that all the girls in my PE lessons remember it too. So pungent. The thick white cream would turn my knees (and hands) a bright red colour, and they would feel properly warm inside, a little painfully to begin with but soon just a nice warm relaxed feeling that left them supple and ready to go. I’d head off to do whatever sport was on the menu for that day, before reapplying that cream and going to my next lesson. It might have stunk the changing rooms out, but it worked, and I have always had some in the cupboard since. I have always chosen it as one of my recovery methods, reached for it whenever I’m struggling with my knees, and carried it in my bag when I’m off out to do anything particularly strenuous.
But the smell! And my poor hands.
Thankfully Deep Heat have come up with a solution. Both to the fact that hands simply do not need to be that red and hot (a necessary evil of the white cream in the tubes), and the smell that was so off putting (and so obvious). They recently sent me their new roll on lotion – with herbal scent!
I’ve used this a few times and it’s as good as I remember it being in my teenage years. The cap comes off to reveal a large roller ball applicator, meaning I no longer have to use my hands to apply the cream. And while the smell isn’t totally non-medicinal, it is definitely much nicer (much fresher, more pleasant) than that smell that brings back all those hockey memories. After application (and you only need to roll it over the areas you want warming up once) it takes a minute or so to do its work, and then your muscles start to heat up. I still get that slightly prickly feeling as the lotion does its work, not painful but a teeny bit uncomfortable, before it calms down about a minute later and just makes my muscles feel warm and relaxed. But not relaxed in a lazy kind of way, but relaxed in a supple and ready-to-go-and-play kind of way.
Now who knows where I can have some hockey playing fun? I might have promised the physiotherapist all those years ago that I’d never play again, but that was 20 years ago (yes… 20!) and I fancy a game! I promise I won’t smell of that deep heat cream 🙂
Deep Heat sent me a sample of their new roller ball massage lotion (with herbal fragrance), but the hockey story is true and I honestly do think it’s a great product to aid warm up and recovery. If you are having joint or muscle problems, especially if they’re caused by hockey tackles, please seek medical help. You know!