I'm an Athlete, and This Is What's in My Medicine Cabinet


If you've ever opened your medicine cabinet and stared in dismay at multiple makeup samples and a bottle of aspirin that passed its use-by date in 2012, you might be wondering—what do I really need to keep in here? Whether it's a nutritionist stocking up on all the right supplements, or the CEO of a health company and his meds of choice, it's always interesting to see what supplies someone else stocks. So, what does a professional athlete keep in her medicine cabinet? Caroline Lubinsky, a former NCAA D1 Women's College Soccer player, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and fitness writer, thinks outside the box (of ibuprofen, that is). Read on to find out about her medicine cabinet must-haves.

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Pain relief cream
Ake Ngiamsanguan/iStock

Although your first impulse when you have muscle aches and pains may be to reach for relief in tablet form, Lubinsky keeps another option handy. "With playing sports comes a lot of injuries," she says. "I always have Icy Hot on hand for those days when aches and pains leave me feeling sidelined."

Pain-relieving creams like Icy Hot contain menthol and methyl salicylate, which are counterirritants, explains WebMD. "They work by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm," explains the site. "These feelings on the skin distract you from feeling the aches/pains deeper in your muscles, joints, and tendons."

Antacid chews
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Athletes are no strangers to an upset stomach. Medical News Today reports that 20-70 percent of athletes experience gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, with endurance athletes the most affected at 83 percent. And upper GI symptoms "are more common among cyclists than runners," says the site, which cites dehydration, delayed gastric emptying, and "reduced blood flow to the digestive tract and abdominal organs" as some of the causes. Hyponatremia, which occurs when sodium in your blood is lower than usual, can also cause stomach pain, nausea, and throwing up, according to Drugs.com.

For her "tummy issues," Lubinsky turns to Tums Chewy Bites. "[They] are easily the best antacid I've tried—they taste like chalky starbursts," she says. "Pop two in when you're feeling less than stellar and they relieve gas pretty quickly."

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Kinesio tape

"I had my ankle reconstructed in college, so having medical tape in my medicine cabinet is a must," says Lubinksy. "I could probably tape my own ankle blindfolded now—I miss the days of an athletic trainer doing it for me."

"It's different than your standard athletic tape, which is used to immobilize a joint," sports and medical orthopedist Dominic King, DO, told the Cleveland Clinic. "Elastic therapeutic taping has the benefit of being stretchy. When you apply it to a joint, it helps to act almost like a rubber band, supporting muscles and tendons, and taking a little stress off the joints." King adds that Kinesio tape can also help with some swelling.


"Workout headbands are actually pretty vital pieces of fitness gear," advises Self, which points out how distracting it can be to get hair in your eyes while working out. "While hair ties, clips, and bobby pins sometimes do the job, having a solid workout headband on hand can just make your whole session go a little smoother—and allow you to focus on your workout at hand, not your hair."

Headbands are a go-to for Lubinksy. "I have a lot of little baby hairs that fly everywhere if they aren't pinned down," she says. "Occasionally, I'll wear bobby pins to tame the flyaways, but during a soccer game, those aren't allowed. I've made keeping my baby hairs back fun with dozens of printed Nike headbands."

Self suggests a headband "that is reliable, keeps sweat out of your eyes, and won't leave your head throbbing from unnecessary pressure."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.