Way to go man. You hit the gym today, and you hit it hard. Now what happens? We all know that the way muscle is built is by lifting weights (tearing down muscle fibers) and then giving said muscle adequate time to rest and rebuild (recovery). But what’s a guy to do when an otherwise normal rest routine leaves you still feeling like you've hit a brick wall? Knowing about different workout recovery tools and how to utilize them can be key in assuring you are able to bring your "A" game day in and day out.
As far as an “easy” fix, supplementation can serve as an aid in helping speed the recovery process. Glucosamine chondroitin helps decrease inflammation (think- a healthier version of ibuprofen) and increase elasticity of the joints. You can find this in just about any vitamin aisle, and it won’t break the bank. Secondly, creatine helps speed muscle recovery and muscle growth. You can buy this in powder form and mix it in with your favorite protein powder, or take it as a pill.
Okay, so you’re tired of the pills and supplements you already take and are looking for a different approach to finding a way to bounce back from muscle fatigue and soreness faster. There are a ton of cool products out there that are designed specifically with the purpose of helping you recover from that hardcore workout. Let’s take a look at some of these.
Foam Rollers- these are key in preventing knots formation in the muscles. In addition to the muscle building process (tears and breakdowns), stress can also largely be to blame for knot formation. Think about how tense your neck and shoulders may feel after a stressful Monday at work. Using your own body weight and direct pressure on a specific area (ie quads, back, etc), foam rolling is not only effective but cheap. Don’t wanna go out and buy one? Go to your local home improvement store and buy some PVC pipe!
Golf ball- Yes, grab a ball from your golf bag and roll it between your hands and under your feet. We tend to neglect these areas, but they are just as important as anywhere else. Plus, releasing tension in the hand muscles, let’s say, can help you feel more confident in your grip strength (no more dropping that deadlift bar!)
While other forms of recovery, supplements aside, are largely active, passive recovery works, too. The age old ice bath is a great way to reduce inflammation and help prevent day (or two) after muscle soreness. Aim for a maximum of ten minutes submerged. If ice baths are just too cold to bare, try placing ice packs (or frozen veggies) on specific areas (quads, for example).
There are a ton of other things out there that you can buy to aid in recovery- trigger point massage balls, stretch straps, compression socks. For those of you that prefer using things specifically made for a purpose (recovery), these might be a good option. If you’re looking to save money, using items around your house (as mentioned above) can work just as well. And lastly, don’t forget about stretching! The benefits of stretching reach far beyond aiding recovery.