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Some Tools To Help Relieve And Soothe Pain After Strenuous Exercise Or Physical Work
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We've got you covered on that front. There are tons of ways you can give your body a little added support to get through the soreness, stiffness and tiredness it can experience when adapting to a new fitness regimen. There's tools that act as your own personal masseuse, breaking down muscle tension to give you a better range of motion. There's innovative ice packs and rubs that can help ease muscle inflammation and pain. There's goodies to help you switch up your workout so your body gets a reprieve without losing the benefits of your momentum, and things that will help you decompress when you're done for the day.
No matter what you need to get you to your next step, chances are there's something on this list that will help you get there. Pick your faves and go for it. You've got this!
It’s often a killer workout that leads to lounging around on the couch (hey, you earned it). But when you can’t stop your thighs from wobbling, you’re reminded that there are probably better ideas.
If you want to wake up for tomorrow’s workout and not waddle around like a duck—or someone with a stick up their a$s—then you’re going to need at least one of these recovery tools. Some of them (foam rollers, sticks, and balls, for example) provide deep-tissue massage that helps increase blood flow, in turn speeding up recovery; others (wraps and salts) decrease inflammation to reduce post-workout soreness. Regardless of which you choose, you’re looking at better fitness results in a shorter amount of time, because when you’re not feeling sore AF, you’re ready to get after it that much sooner.
1. Theragun G3
There's a reason why we keep talking about the Theragun: because it's amazing. Using percussive therapy that delivers up to 40 pounds of force, the G3 helps to relieve tension, assists the body in recovery and healing, and enhances overall performance by decreasing pain and increasing your range of motion. It has two speeds so you can vary the intensity of your treatment, and four attachments that will address different muscle groups accordingly. In addition to being a natural stress reliever, the Theragun can accelerate recovery and muscle repair, stimulate blood and lymphatic flow, and relieve muscle spasms and stiffness so you're ready for your next workout. And you can choose from one of two colors: Flash White and Jet Black. It's well worth the investment.
2. PainCakes Cold Therapy Ice Pack
Forget your bag of frozen peas—this is what you want to ease your sore and inflamed muscles after a hard workout. Just pop one of these in the freezer for 60 minutes, stick it wherever you need your cold therapy, and it stays put until you're ready to remove it. It'll re-stick over 100 times on clean, dry skin, and it'll adhere to everything from your knees and elbows to your toes, ankles and feet, and anywhere on your back and shoulders. Consider this icing made easy.
3. Udaily Calf Compression Sleeves
You can get compression sleeves for pretty much everything on your body, but if you're running or doing any leg-heavy workouts, calf compression sleeves may become your best friend. They can help improve blood circulation, prevent and relieve leg cramps and shin splints, aid in easing aches, soreness and swelling, and support muscle recovery. They're made of a nylon spandex blend, too, so they're comfortable and breathable while still being durable.
4. BioFreeze Multi Pack
If you're going to be breaking a major sweat, you may as well have multiple options for recovery on hand. Case in point, this multi-pack of BioFreeze, offering a roll-on, gel and spray that can help ease muscle and joint pain. It applies with ease and sinks into your skin without leaving a residue to lessen your aches and pains, even strains and bruises. Use it pretty much anywhere where you have skin and grumpy muscles (within reason and discretion—you know what we're saying).
5. Spiky Massage Balls
Get into the nitty gritty of your muscles with these spiky massage balls, which offer a soft and hard version, depending on your pain tolerance and how much you want to break down those tension points. The spiky outer layer helps to increase circulation while it gives you some added oomph to your recovery practice, and can be used wherever you need a little extra help... but the manufacturers recommend using these on your feet.
6. TheraBand Roller Massager
If you're not down with rolling on a foam roller, why not roll the roller on yourself? Think of this like a rolling pin for your muscles that you can use for self myofascial release and self massage, with a ridged design to grip tissue and work deeper into tight muscles. You can use it before you work out to warm up, or afterwards to ease the tension in your hamstrings, quads, neck or calves. It even has loops to help with stretching, too.
7. TheraBand Resistance Band with Loops
Resistance bands are a great workout option for those who love a little something different for their strength training routine, but did you know they can assist with recovery too? It's true. You can either use them for an alternative workout to give your muscles a break, or use them for aquatic workouts or hydrotherapy exercises. They're latex-free and come with a library of workouts so you can do your recovery wherever you want.
8. ProStretch Unilateral Stretching System
If you're a runner, you'll thank your lucky stars that this little gadget exists. It does pretty much exactly what you think it should do, given its shape: it stretches your calves and feet, easing the tension of stressed-out muscles that have had enough of the pavement (or treadmill hills). Just pop your foot on the little platforms, steady yourself, and roll until you feel your lower leg muscles, tendons and ligaments release into a puddle of goo (or something thereabouts).
9. Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls
Give yourself the benefit of self myofascial release with one of these super-strong massage balls, and watch as they eliminate muscle knots and tension. Just lean into the ball with the tense body part in question, and voila! Gravity and body weight combine to give you the benefits of trigger-point therapy to help relieve sore muscles. If you're not ready for a foam roller or a Theragun, this is a great place to start.
10. TriggerPoint Vibrating Foam Roller
Speaking of foam rollers, this one goes the extra mile with the added bonus of soothing vibrations. It features four frequencies designed to relieve pain, encourage relaxation, and aid in recovery. Using a patented multi-density grid surface, this roller aims to channel blood and oxygen through your muscles to increase circulation, while the smaller rolling surface targets deep layers of tissue. Plus, it was one of Serena Williams' Amazon wellness must-haves.
11. AmazonBasics 1/2-Inch Extra Thick Exercise Mat
When you're in recovery mode, you don't want to be doing your routine on a hard floor. Why not use this exercise mat instead? Made of 100% NBR foam, this mat offers a textured surface and extra cushioning support thanks to its 1/2-inch thickness, but it's still light and durable. Did we mention that Gabrielle Union included it as one of her fave fitness finds on Amazon? 'Cause she did.
12. FrostKnit Full-Zip
While this stylin' jacket is best as protective outerwear for outdoor cardio in winter months, we'd argue it's just as useful to wear when you're going to and from studio or gym workouts, keeping you warm (and your muscles supple) as you're out and about. It's fitted, with two outer zip pockets and an internal phone pocket, and the sleeves feature thumb holes so your fingers can roam free. Use it for workouts, warm-ups, and visits to your massage therapist to get those muscles moving again.
Endorsed by the head trainer for the L.A. Lakers, this kinda-wacky-looking recovery tool actually works. The obvious use is for larger muscles of your lower body, but thanks to the ergonomic design and interchangeable attachments, you can target hard-to-roll spots like arms, neck, and wrists with ease.
14. The Stick Travel Stick
When your main objective is to pack nothing but a carry-on for that out-of-state race, the first thing to go is a foam roller. (Or, let’s be honest, it’s not even making it into the suitcase on the first try.) That’s why the Travel Stick is ideal: It takes up very little room—you can even throw it in an oversize purse or backpack—and you can customize how deep of a massage you want based on how much pressure you apply.
15. The Pressure Positive Backnobber II
Nearly 800 customers give this an almost perfect score on Amazon, so you know it’s gotta work. The curvy accessory is designed to get at hard-to-reach places in your neck, shoulders, and back: Hook one end over your shoulder and apply as much pressure as you can handle to those sore areas. While it does break down into two parts for easy travel, it may look like you’re trying to shank someone if you pull this thing outta your bag…so maybe save it for the hotel room.
16. Moji Foot PRO
If there’s one area that doesn’t get enough love, it’s your feet—and the more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments found within them. But a little TLC can prevent a lot of injuries, so pop this little guy in the freezer before you head to work or for a long run. By the time you get back, the stainless steel spheres are ready to give your barking dogs a cold, muscle-relieving massage.
17. TriggerPoint MB2 Massage Roller
If back issues wreak havoc on your workouts (or your life), this roller is your new go-to recovery tool. Designed to be adjustable, it can extend to target the larger muscles of your back or shrink down to work the tiny muscles along your spine. This can help improve flexibility; release tightness; and support good, upright posture. (You know, to combat all that hunching over you do at your desk all day.)($24; amazon.com)
18. TheraBand Stretch Strap
Stretching always feels better when you have someone there to help you push a little farther, but let’s be real—how often is someone actually nearby to stretch you out? Tossing this strap into your gym bag is a better bet. It helps you move deeper into a stretch, and it even has numbers spaced across the loops so you can easily track improvements to flexibility and range of motion. Use the toe loops to address heel pain and prevent plantar fasciitis, and the big ones for hamstring, quad, and lower back movements.
19. Gaiam Athletic MaxStrap
When reaching up (or over) to touch your toes is damn near impossible, a cotton strap can give the stretch support you need without digging into your skin. This one is extra long, so tall athletes aren’t left to deal with tight muscles solo.
20. Dr. Cool Large Wrap
Ice packs are a solid part of the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevate), but more often than not they slide off and refuse to stay put. This wrap stays in place and offers compression, knocking out two steps in one.
21. Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution
If you can’t stand the thought of an ice bath—or simply don’t ever feel the need to torture yourself—opt for a relaxing hot water soak instead. Toss in two cups of epsom salt while you’re at it (fragrant varieties offer up ~aromatherapy spa~ vibes), so the minerals can absorb into the skin, providing much-needed relief for sore muscles.
22. 2XU Refresh Recovery Tights
Whether compression works during a workout is debatable, but research shows donning tight gear after may help speed up post-recovery results.Lower-leg compression, running mechanics, and economy in trained distance runners. Stickford AS, Chapman RF, Johnston JD. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 2014, Jun.;10(1):1555-0265. And while the price point is a bit high, these babies help increase blood flow and reduce muscle stiffness and swelling after a killer leg day. Worth it.
23. EC3D Crew Twist Sock
Not everyone wants to alert the world that they’re wearing compression gear. These crew socks go unnoticed, but the benefits don’t. You can twist the material to help correct pronation or supination and ease plantar fasciitis pain—finally, a neutral stride that doesn’t leave you feeling weak in the knees.
24. Zensah Compression Ankle/Calf Sleeves
It’s nice when recovery gear looks cool, but it’s even better when the design elements actually serve a purpose. The fold-over cuff on these sleeves slides over the arch of your foot to provide structural support that fights plantar fasciitis pain, the chevron ribbing helps relieve shin splints, and the pin-point compression gives targeted calf and ankle support.
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