Recovery is arguably one of the most important parts of any workout routine, but a highly underutilised tool for anyone who is active. Recovering and stretching before and after your work out will help to relieve tension, reduce your risk of soft tissue injuries and improve flexibility. There is a plethora of tools available that can help your performance, but it’s important to know which one is right for you and what each product offers.
Foam Rollers: This is one of the most common recovery items that people use. A foam roller focuses on large muscle groups that are tight or have a limited range of motion. Always move slowly and hold your position on the sensitive spots of your muscles to help relieve the tension. It is best to use this while your muscles are warm. Some great areas which people commonly use a roller on are your hamstrings, quads and shoulder blades.
Resistance bands: A unique recovery tool to stretch out your muscles. These bands are quite long and can wrap around your body and apply pressure to help hold stretches. These bands come in small, medium and large which offer more or less slack. Try holding the stretch for 15 seconds then releasing it. You can also use this to dynamically stretch which is all about moving your body or muscle actively during the stretch to improve flexibility. Some great stretches are below.
Massage balls: It’s always best to build up to using massage balls as they are really firm and will take some getting used to. These are a great tool to target and release tension at specific points or knots in your muscles. Perfect for people who travel or are moving around a lot as they are small and portable. The massage balls come in - different varieties and can often have small spikes to increase the level of tension applied to your muscles. A great use for these is to hold them firmly on the spot which is feeling particularly tight for 15 seconds then release. Use massage balls for hard to reach areas such as your shoulders or hip flexors. A few examples of how to use these are below.
Percussion therapy: A relatively new recovery method which uses the power of vibration to help relieve muscle tension and apply a massage to your muscles. The gun allows you to apply different speeds to increase the intensity of the massage. Use this tool to work over muscles before and after exercise for particularly tight areas. It is best to focus on a specific muscle by holding the therapy gun and moving it around for around 30 seconds to a minute.
It’s always best to start off slow. A good tip is to use your recovery items 1-2 times a week if you have not used them before. This will help your body get used to the pressure, then slowly continue to weave this into your workout routine.