Good pain or bad pain: That is the question. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference. “Strength training causes micro tears in the muscles which can make them feel tight,” says Eric Smith, MSPT, physical therapist at the Therapy and Sports Center in Riverview, Florida. And while devices and tools that provide deep tissue massage can cause discomfort, “they get the blood flowing in the affected area, which helps it heal,” Smith says. Cold compression therapy, in the form of ice and gels, can also ease post-workout pain by reducing blood flow and decreasing inflammation.
Ready to get some relief? These recovery tools may initially cause a little grief but they’ll make you feel less sore and enable you to get back to your next workout faster. So, c’mon baby, make it hurt so good!
The Best Recovery Tools
Step aside pain relief pills—these recovery tools better target aches to relieve muscle soreness. Use this fitness equipment to help you bounce back, fast.
1. S Marks the Spot
Curvy in all the right places, this Backnobber II device is designed to get at hard-to-reach areas of the neck, shoulders and upper back. Place one side over your shoulder and control the amount of pressure by pulling on the opposite end. ($34, amazon.com)
2. All Clamped Up
IT Bands — be prepared! Lay this U-shaped contraption on top of your leg, and push down on the wheels allowing the whole thing to rotate and grip your thigh. Guide the ROLL Recovery R8 wheels up and down your aches using the handgrips. You’ll be ready to dominate your next workout without skipping a beat. ($120; amazon.com)
3. Tender Toes
After a long day of work followed by exercise, it’s not unusual to have tired feet. Roll them over the spheres in one of the two zones on this Moji 360 Foot Massager, to target the areas you feel most sore. The intensity level is up to you. ($40; amazon.com)
4. Ice, Ice Baby
Think of your typical topical pain reliever — times a hundred! Apply this Rock Sauce lotion liberally to the problem area and get ready for a one-two punch of hot and cold relief, thanks to ingredients methyl salicylate, menthol and capsaicin. Oh, and we hope you don’t mind the smell of Altoids. ($20; amazon.com)
5. That’s a Wrap
It’s about time the Ace Bandage got a makeover! Wet any part — or the entirety — of this Dr. Cool Recovery-On-The-Go Wrap, and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Take it out and wrap it around achy muscles for another 20 minutes or until it starts getting warm. The best part: The Velcro adheres directly to the bandage, eliminating the need for those testy metal clasps. ($25-$35, depending on size; drcoolrecovery.com)
6. ‘Round We Go
Run the ball-bearing SKLZ AccuRolleralong sore calves, tired feet or overworked shoulders to hit trigger points and release tension. The straps can be used by hands or feet to help you stretch out as well. ($40; amazon.com)
7. Roll Out
Don’t let the bumps and grooves on the Weider Textured Massage Roller intimidate you! They’re designed to knead into the muscle tissue of your back, hips and legs to relieve tightness. Plus, at just 18 inches long, it’s easy to stash at home, at the office or even in your travel bag. ($22.50, kmart.com)
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