Have you ever wondered if all the recovery tools available are really necessary? Lucky for you I’ve spent a lot of time testing things out to weed out the not so great, but also doing A LOT of research to understand what really matters for recovery.
When I started running at 20 it was the last thing on my mind, but over 20 years later, I’ve learned that without spending time on post running recovery I’m not going to be running as much, as far or as fast as I’d like.
Since I’ve already done a breakdown on how to find the right foam roller and how to use it, today we’re looking outside the box at some of the big recovery tools you may or may not know much about.
There is a massive amount on the market now and for me it’s key to figure out what’s worth your time and dollars. While there are some things that I don’t love, I do see how others find value in them and THAT is the key to recovery.
If you feel like it helps, then there’s a lot of science to say it does!
What is the Best Way to Recover from a Workout?
There are many effective methods for post-workout recovery. Stretching, foam rolling, using a percussion massager, eating a nutritious meal, staying hydrated, and getting a good night’s sleep are some of the best ways to incorporate workout recovery.
It’s important to remember that post-workout recovery doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated.
That’s why my aim is to share with you all the ways you can recover post-run.
Which is a reminder that the tools are exciting, but secondary to the smart living!
How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Run?
There’s no standard answer to this question because it depends on your training, your nutrition, your volume of miles, your years of running and the list goes on.
However, we know that we can enhance recovery by utilizing the right tools, and have I mentioned it enough yet, nutrition.
Most of these are pricier than when I bought my first running store massage stick, but I suppose if they stand in for a massage or keep you from Dr’s visits, then they pay off.
What Helps Muscles Recover Faster?
Three keys to quick muscle recovery are proper nutrition and hydration, plenty of sleep, and maintaining blood circulation.
Your body requires replenishment after a workout, primarily in the form of carbohydrates, protein, fluids, and electrolytes.
During sleep, the body produces important hormones that aid in the repair and growth of muscles. Sleep has been shown to help repair muscle after it has been worked, which is essential for further muscle building.
Finally, keeping your blood flowing after a workout allows your body to deliver vital nutrients and oxygen to tired muscles.
The way to maintain blood circulation is by using these recovery tools to make sure you’re doing everything you can for the right recovery.
How Do Muscle Recovery Tools Help Runners?
Workout recovery tools are a great component of any running routine. They can make you feel better by reducing muscle pain, helping with tight muscles, as well as increasing mobility.
All of this can help you perform better and avoid injury. Massage guns, personal massagers, foam rollers, Epsom salts, and compression socks are some examples of recovery tools.
These products could aid in your recovery from workouts as well as your ability to relax after a long day at work.
Whether you’re a new runner or a professional athlete, it’s incredibly important to utilize workout recovery tools.
The right tools will:
- increase blood flow
- improve blood circulation
- alleviate muscle tension
- help with soreness
- reduce inflammation
When you first start running or when you increase the frequency, duration, or intensity of your runs, you may not notice an immediate difference. Instead, you may wake up the next day or a few days later with severe stiffness.
This condition is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it is brought on by tiny tears, or microtears, that occur in the muscles.
These tears most frequently occur during movements that cause the muscles to stretch or lengthen like what your legs do as they move through your run stride.
While nothing can replace product-free recovery essentials such as adequate sleep and proper nutrition, the muscle recovery tools for runners I’m about to share with you today can serve as an additional line of defense against stiffness and soreness.
From foam rollers to percussive massagers and compression devices, this article includes everything you can possibly need to help you get moving again quickly and maintain consistency in your running routine.
What’s the Best Recovery Tool for Running?
The best recovery tool is the one that works for you and helps you efficiently in your recovery process. Pick one that fits your needs, suits your budget, and can target multiple muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
I’ve mentioned my top pick from each type of recovery tool. So let’s get started:
Best Foam Roller: TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller ($36.95)
Foam rolling is also called myofascial release and is designed to work out the ‘knots’ in your muscles. You could compare the practice to self-massage. The technical terms for ‘knots’ are trigger points or myofascial adhesions.
And so, foam rolling helps us to do a self-myofascial release, which is a type of soft-tissue therapy that aims to break up adhesions, or areas of tight tissue, in the fascia.
Fascia is a type of connective tissue that exists throughout the body and aids in the stability of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and organs.
Tightness in the fascia can result in a feeling of soreness, and manual manipulation can provide some relief.
A great foam roller to try that is robust and reliable is by Trigger Point. I mention the Trigger Point by brand because it is one of the most commonly carried in running stores.
The multi-density exterior foam of the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller covers a hollow, rigid core that helps it retain its shape even when used very regularly. Plus, it can easily fit into your gym bag.
I’ve written a more detailed review in my post on the best foam rollers for runners if you’re curious to learn more about it because you figure out if you want to purchase it.
**There you’ll find out more about why I’m not really a big fan of the R8 Roll Recovery, especially for those with IT Band issues.
Best Massage Gun: Fors Cryo-Therm Massager ($299)
Massage guns like the TheraGun are an excellent recovery tool for runners and other professional athletes and are a percussive therapy device.
But the Fors Cryo-Therm Massager is even better. It’s the most advanced, custom-designed mechanical massage device on the market.
It utilizes a vibration massage to help break up pain signals, this along with a steel head that can turn hot or cold allows it to work in ways that no other massager I’ve ever tried does.
It’s one of the only massagers to come with steel heads, so you can apply pain relief cream to work deeper into the muscle. Honestly, I LOVE turning on the heat feature and then switching to cold, so you’re getting the benefits of hot cold therapy. I prefer this one for pain to any other.
For me, it’s more of a vibration therapy tool than a deep tissue application like the Theragun.
This handheld device which looks like something you might find in the garage toolbox is a powerful tool that used to appear only in chiropractors or physical therapy offices.
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Heating Pad for Neck Pain: Comfytemp USB Heated Neck Wrap for Pain Relief ($23)
Whether you’re shrugging up your shoulders while running and feeling pain due to tension or simply spending a lot of time at the computer, heat is an ideal way to relax muscles.
This is a classic case where heat will do more than ice. For this, look for a heating pad that fits the neck.
This pad by Comfytemp does the job right and comes with three heat settings to allow you to adjust it according to your preferences.
Best Vibrating Roller: HyperIce Vibrating Roller ($149)
This tool is a little combination of the two above therapies! Take your foam rolling to the next level by adding in vibration, which is reported to help to disrupt pain signals to your brain which allows you to roll deeper, and is reported to help increase your total range of motion.
Best Cream for Muscle Recovery: Resilience CBD Sports Cream ($40)
This was a brand new to me recovery tool and admittedly one I was SUPREMELY skeptical of in advance.
However, after a lot of research and testing, I was beyond impressed and I’m positive it played a major role in getting me back to my pre-surgery mileage over the last month.
AMANDARUN20 is good for 20% off
Read all my FAQs on CBD for runners!
Best for Sore Muscles: Epsom Salt Baths
One of my favorite rewards for a long run is a hot Epsom Salt Bath. Heat is a great way to loosen up tight muscles and of course there’s simply the matter of giving yourself time to do something RELAXING!
Pretty much any epsom salt you find is a great option, but add in some lavender if before bed for extra sleepy time.
Best Device for Pressure Point Therapy: CTM Band ($40)
I’ve never seen anything quite like this and I dig it. Pun intended based on the way this band with nodes will dig into your knots or sore muscles!
It provides a combination of compression and pressure point therapy to assist you in hitting points the way a sports massage therapist would, which will help to alleviate pain and increase range of motion.
Best TENS Unit: AUVON Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit ($38)
This is another device I tested this year, which surprised me. It includes rechargeable batteries with good battery life.
A TENS is a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation device. The muscle stimulator sends electrical stimulation to the muscles through electrode pads.
In fact, the electrical impulses can lessen pain signals, which aids in muscle relaxation.
It’s a great option for reducing pain without drugs, which then allows you to begin the work of physical therapy or use one of the above tools to dig into the muscle..
I wrote a detailed post on how electrical stem works if you’re interested.
This AUVON device can do both electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which are two different treatments.
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) is a type of physical therapy that involves the passage of electrical currents through your soft tissue, which includes your skin, fascia, and muscle tissue.
These currents are thought to block pain signals from the body to the brain, improve blood circulation, and enhance muscle fibers, implying that they increase performance or strength.
With 24 modes and 20 levels of intensity, and 24 preprogrammed massage modes, this device has something for everyone at every stage of the muscle recovery journey.
You can use the lower settings when your muscles are extremely tender and increase them when they are less sore.
Multi-Functional with 24 Mode. 20 levels of intensity, 24 preprogrammed massage modes
Best Compression Recovery: CW-X Stablyx Tights ($103)
Technically these aren’t new, but every time I bust mine out I get so many questions that I had to share.
**I know that you expected me to say Compression Boots like NormaTec.
They are amazing. So many of you love them and swear by them, but they have never felt good to me. For the price point, I’ve felt so much more recovery from having access to tights as my consistent running recovery tool. Also way easier to travel with tights!
That being said, if you’ve tried them and love them they can be a great investment.
Now back to these compression pants!
I LOVE these tights because the way they put bands into the tights creates support around the knee and IT Band, which I adore for long runs. It can help with soreness and swelling, aiding your recovery process.
They provide some additional support as I increase my mileage, meanwhile, at home, I pull on some other lighter compression pants for recovery.
Best Red Light Therapy Device: Rotsha Red Light Therapy Device ($79)
I remember a few years ago having a chiropractor use this tool on my ankle a few days prior to a race and it felt dramatically better.
Honestly, who knows if it was time or the therapy…but I’m open to anything! In the least scientific way possible, I’ll describe it as the wavelengths of the red light reaching your cells to increase ATP, which reduces cellular stress and allows healing to be kick-started.
As we all know running recovery goes well beyond what we do to our muscles, but still…these are fun!! I know I shouldn’t geek out over all things running, but I do and I can’t wait to keep testing out new things and figuring out what’s truly useful.
Best for At Home Muscle Scraping: SideKick Tool
After this post, I started to think more about the Graston technique that my chiropractor often did in his office and it made me wonder could it be done effectively at home??That’s when I found out about the Sidekick Tool, which I’ve been using on my calves and neck lately to get deeper than was ever possible with any roller. Here’s what makes it different:
- more targeted muscle and fascia work
- deep pressure actually pauses the pain signals to your brain
- deep pressure also triggers the release of endorphins
- deep pressure also improves our sense of proprioception
Proprioception means an awareness of how our body is moving through space, which is pretty epically (did I make that word up?!) important when you’re bounding from foot to foot! Better awareness means more speed, agility and less injuries.
You can try the Sidekick tool for 15% off by just click here!
This technique, like cupping, has been around for ages, but is only starting to get more attention again recently. It’s traditionally referred to as gua sha or by the tool Graston or more commonly scraping. No matter what we call it, I love the idea of taking recovery in to my own hands and not needing to go anywhere to get the results.
Looking for more reviews to find the best things for your run?
Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! I share what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
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- Affordable massage guns for runners
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