What is Embrocation?
Just think of embrocation as a warming potion. Defined as a lotion or liniment that helps to relieve muscle or joint pain, Europeans have been using it since Victorian times. Original formulas included turpentine, vinegar and eggs—something you luckily won’t find today.
So how’s it work, anyway? Most formulas have ingredients that, once applied to the skin, increase blood flow to that area by stimulating the nerves. The salve or lotion-like form of embrocation also acts as a layer between skin and the elements—rain, cold, wind. Apply to the skin a short amount of time before activity begins and as your body heats up, you'll feel the magic happen in the form of a nice, warm feeling.
What does that mean to athletes? No bulky extra layers like knee or leg warmers when racing! Huzzah! (In fact, the nickname for embrocation is Belgian leg warmers, a nod to both its European roots and its function.)
When off the bike, remove embrocation with rubbing alcohol before showering, as the water makes the lotion more soluble and will enhance its effects with hot water. Some people, after they’re accustomed to using embro, will appreciate its lasting warming qualities off the bike. Just be sure to build up a tolerance first.