The thing is, you want to feel the burn. It’s this sensation, in part, that signals your muscles are working at straining on a microscopic level. It’s when you rest and the muscle rebuilds that gains are truly determined. The process of building a muscle involves breaking it down, so recuperation time is a critical part of training. The shorter the recovery time, the faster training can lead to gains.
There are many ways to recover, and the regiments should be unique to the person. But some blanket rules apply to everyone, and some companies are known for manufacturing quality recovery gear. Keep in mind that strong recovery needs more than just gadgets, however, like a proper sleep and a healthy diet. That’s what fitness trackers are for; they can deliver info that allows wearers to make educated choices about what to eat or when to take a nap or a day off. Still, your Apple Watch can’t hold an ice-pack to your knee or give you electric muscle therapy. Below are a few of our favorite pieces of recovery gear, from braces to foam rollers.
There are many protective sports equipment companies out there, but not many of them can claim as many high-caliber users as Zamst. The company has recently partnered with an incredible roster of athletes, including everyone from Stephen Curry and mountaineer Melissa Arnot to Nolan Arenado and all-star great Ryan Getzlaf. Curry has even gone on to praise the Zamst A2-DX, citing it has as the only brace he’s been wearing since his surgery on his right ankle.
Zamst grew from the medical expertise of the Nippon Sigmax group, a dominant force in Japanese orthopedics. That experience led to a variety of braces and recovery gear for both specific sports and general use. Each piece of Zamst tech is constructed with particular innovations designed for a particular type of stability. The ZK-7, for example, offers the strongest support for ACL, PCL, MCL and LCL sprains. Linebacker Von Miller has worn one since his ACL injury. The ZK-7’s Exo-Tech QUAD, on the other hand, is a four-way exoskeleton aimed at medial and lateral movement, and the X strap is adjustable for personalized fit.
Instead of compression or ice, Marc Pro and the Marc Pro Plus use electricity to speed up recovery. MARC stands for Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade, a proprietary voltage wave form that causes a series of muscle contractions. Used consistently, the Marc Pro can encourage angiogenesis — the growth of new blood vessels — which means more oxygenated blood reaching muscles while deoxygenated blood is pumped out. This increased muscle refresh rate translates to better performance.
It’s the kind of technology you’d expect a therapist to offer. The Marc Pro is also palm-sized, which allows you to tuck the muscle stimulator into your gym bag. The Plus model adds frequencies for pain management, thus rendering it more suitable for recovery. Keep in mind that the devices are not intended to treat medical conditions or diseases, meaning they shouldn’t be used as replacements for a trip to a licensed physical therapist. That said, they’re great for chasing away that feeling of fatigue and soreness that comes from pushing your limits. Read more here.
If your feet are sore after a long day but you don’t want to change your shoes, insoles offer an easy fix. Thankfully, currexSole offers a series of insoles aimed at specific sports as well as your typical workday. Runners and cyclists have different needs, as do people merely trying to get through a shift without foot and lower back pain.
The company offers each of its six insoles in three different profiles (low, medium, and high). All the insoles are made to last – these aren’t your typical drugstore purchase that will disintegrate after a few miles. Keep them for the life of the shoe. The company also partners with Nike, Asics, and Ecco among others, but it retains the strengths of an independent brand. It’s essentially a group of athletes and sports scientists working in unison to utilize the latest research to treat your feet (and the rest of your body).
Dr. Cool updates traditional cold treatment by adding compression in the form of a handy wrap. It’s an incredibly simple and welcome concept. Most cold packs need a special brace or a length of athletic tape to hold them in place if the person using it doesn’t want to sit down. Dr. Cool’s tech is a patented Coolcore fabric that not only holds a chill, but promotes regulated evaporation for continued cooling. You simply wet a Dr. Cool Wrap and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes to prep it. It may be a little frosty, but it will also be flexible enough to wrap around any sore body parts.
There are other cold wrap bands, sure, but most of them use a gel that’s prone to breaking and not nearly as flexible. Dr. Cool Wraps have more stretch and are made to be pulled tight for compression as well as cooling. They come in a variety of colors, too, and don’t resemble an orthopedist’s device the way some other bands might. The wraps come in either small, medium, or large, the latter of which is nearly 50 inches long and wide enough to wrap around your shoulder or back.
We’ve given nods to Injinji before, and for good reason. The company’s toe socks keep blisters at bay, especially for runners, and who doesn’t love a little toe-loving comfort around the house? Toe socks may look or feel weird at first, but the toe separation gently stretches your digits and prevents toe rub even if you aren’t training for a marathon.
Additionally, the Injinji compression socks increase the tension from the ankle up to just below the knee to enhance circulation and promote recovery. They’re made of a blend of Coolmax, Lycra, and nylon to keep bacteria at bay. The arch support is sewn in, the top mesh is breathable, and heel and metatarsal — aka the ball of the foot — are padded for both lasting comfort and durability. They even come in four distinct colors (purple, blue, pink, and black).
Rolling out muscle tension after a workout is a basic part of any recovery repertoire. A good roller is the enemy of stiff muscles everywhere, and TriggerPoint sells some of the best. Handheld roller sticks are a more flexible alternative to larger, standard rollers which are generally used on the floor. Their narrow shape makes them easy to hold, so you can use them on muscle groups that are tricky to hit with a standard roller.
The GRID STK Foam Roller has the trademarked GRID surface, as well as AcuGRIP handles that are great for massaging the really narrow areas of the body, like the neck. They’re also available in two densities, including an extra-firm model for those really stubborn muscles.
It’s not a Fitbit, though it may look like one at first glance. Yes, Whoop tracks heart rate, skin conductivity, temperature, and motion, but it also uses predictive analytics to tell the wearer how much sleep an athlete — or anyone else, for that matter — needs to bounce back. Instead of a recap of your miles, it focuses on measuring muscle strain per activity and subsequent recovery. This allows athletes and trainers to develop a better understanding their individual bodies and limitations, which, in turn, should lead to better and safer athletic performance.
Right now the company is only working with professional athletes, college athletes, the military, and Olympians. If you’re a pro or a pro in training, however, you can register your interest with Whoop on the company’s official webpage. Read more here.