Most of us just want to get through our workouts and call it a day. Whether a three-mile run, a HIIT workout or heavy weightlifting session, just doing the actual conditioning feels like a victory in and of itself.
But what about your recovery? And not just taking a "rest day." Active recovery and intentional mobility between workouts will help you to recover faster and prevent injury along the way. Unfortunately, too many people don't incorporate this important aspect into their training programs.
Start now and you'll be able to put more in and get more out of your conditioning workouts. Like training, using a variety of recovery methods (massage, electrical stimulation, stretching, etc.) is optimal, so here are eight recovery products worth your time and money.
1. SKINS RY400 Compression Recovery Long Tights
SKINS are known for their active compression clothing, but they've recently added recovery compression to their product line, recognizing that one cannot succeed without the other. The RY400 line includes long tights, a long-sleeve top and socks for men and women.
Actually comfortable enough to sleep in, the compression wear is constructed using a warp knit and unique gradient compression to reduce overall muscle tenderness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It's recommended that you wear the gear for at least three hours for the best results.
Buy it: SKINSCompression.com; Price: $139.99
2. Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls
While getting a massage after every tough workout is ideal, it's not very realistic. Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls (YTU) are "self-massage balls" that you can use anytime and anywhere to help relieve pain and heal and stretch your body.
With the YTU balls, you're not limited to one or two body parts; you can use them on most of your body, including your lower and upper back, shoulders, hips and buttocks, feet and ankles, hamstrings and IT bands, etc.
And unlike lacrosse balls, which are too hard and can actually cause injury, the YTU balls are firm with a little give, which allows you to go deeper and prevent an unnecessary pain or injury when it comes to your bones.
Buy it: TuneUpFitness.com; Price: $12.95
3. Marc Pro
It's one of the most effective gadgets on the market, and the best part is that you'll feel the results instantly and recover more quickly for your next workout. Using the Marc Pro after workouts helps to reduce overall muscle fatigue and to increase muscle strength.
There is research to back the validity of the product as well validation from more than 100 professional and amateur sports teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Red Sox and Green Bay Packers.
The price is on the higher end, but the company offers payment plans. While it may scare away some weekend warriors, it's perfect for competitors or anyone who takes their workouts seriously and strives to make gains in their training.
There is also an upgraded version on the market -- the Marc Pro Plus -- which does everything the Marc Pro does, but the Plus also addresses nagging, chronic aches and pains, making it ideal for non-athletes too.
Buy it: MarcPro.com; Price: $649.95
4. Backnobber II
It may not have the most technical-sounding name, but this tool does the trick. The Backnobber II is an S-shape massage tool that can get into all of those hard-to-reach places on your back, offering the ultimate release of knots and tension spots.
It's very easy to use and allows for full control of the amount of pressure that is applied. You can even do it while you're sitting and watching TV. Plus, it breaks down into two pieces, making it easy to pack for long car or plane rides, when your back might flare up from prolonged sitting.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $29.95
5. Trigger Point’s GRID Foam Roller
Over the past four to five years, "foam rolling" has become common vernacular amongst coaches, trainers, athletes and, really, anyone who exercises regularly. Gyms are even offering entire classes devoted to foam rolling as active recovery.
In general, foam rolling helps to release the tension in fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscle) that can build up with training and cause discomfort.
What's unique about Trigger Point's take on the foam roller is that they include what's called Distrodensity zones. These zones look like ridges on the roller, and they act more like a masseuse's hands, allowing for better flow of blood and oxygen, two keys in recovery.
Buy it: TriggerPoint.Implus.com; Price: $34.99
Though it looks like a torture device and the name may make you think of a video game, the FasciaBlaster digs into some tough spots of your fascia — the connective tissue surrounding your muscles.
It works similarly to a foam roller and trigger point ball combined, but the claws are able to dig deep into the fascia to soothe those really tight and painful spots. The result? Increased blood flow and muscle function and decreased pain. A winning combination for post-workout recovery.
Buy it: AshleyBlackGuru.com; Price: starts at $89.00
7. TheraBand Stretch Strap
Stretching is a significant part of any recovery program because it helps to relieve stiff and tight muscles and joints as well as help to prevent injury. The TheraBand Stretch Strap offers options for both dynamic and static stretching and loop handles so that you're able to get a solid grip on the rope.
It also has a color-coded system so you can see how you're progressing with your flexibility the more you use it. Although the strap is easy to use, TheraBand provides different stretch videos to get the most out of your stretch time. It's also portable, so you can take it with you anywhere.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $19.99
8. Dr. Teal’s Pre & Post Workout Soak
Taking a hot bath after a workout can feel great, but taking a hot bath with Epsom salts feels great and does wonders for your body. Pure Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, relieves muscle pains by reducing swelling and tension, which are natural results of exercise.
Dr. Teal's Pre & Post Workout Soak also adds menthol to relieve overworked muscles -- making it a two-for-one. Soaking for at least 20 minutes is recommended for the best results.
Buy it: Walmart.com; Price: $4.97