As endurance athletes, we train a great deal. Many days include multiple sessions that making us stronger but can also wear us down if we do not make time for recovery. This is where recovery tools come into play. If used properly recovery tools will have us feeling fresher and not as stiff going into our next session. While there are many tools and brands that can be discussed this month I am going to spend a little time talking about my 4 most used and personal favorites. With all of the tools listed below, they have one attribute in common: proper use is the best practice.
While they come in different densities and can be smooth or grooved. When used properly the effect can be that of a self-massage, releasing myofascial. Using a foam roller properly includes rolling the whole length of the muscle, having great form, moving slowly across muscles, not spending too much time on knots and avoid rolling directly on any injured areas. Rolling out daily, spending 30-60 seconds on each muscle can greatly enhance recovery and make you less injury-prone when used properly.
Unlike the roller, I am going to play favorites with this one. This “recovery stick” has many of the benefits of a foam roller with the exception that you do not need to apply your whole body weight when being used. This can be beneficial on tender spots. In addition, the gears are different sizes and have different densities, great for “grabbing muscle” and working on concentrated spots. In addition, the little red ball is great for working around the Achilles or behind the knee. This tool is beneficial for runners and triathletes
TRIGGER POINT BALLS:
Performing specific movements with with a lacrosse ball or golf ball can be a great way to rehab a problem area. In addition when used properly trigger pointing problem areas can release tight myofascial. Using a golf ball on the distal side of your foot is a great way to treat and prevent foot injuries.
This is the number one recovery tool I am asked about by our athletes. With the steep price tag (many brands sell for $1000USD+) many athletes ask if they really need a pair. With multiple companies selling boots in North America each uses slightly different technology, but the idea of what the boots are accomplishing is close to the same: massage and mobilize fluid by building pressure in chambers built into the boots. While I do feel the boots help they do not replace any of the tools listed before.
SOMETHING ELSE TO CONSIDER:
The life of an endurance athlete is busy. We have families, carrieres/university, social obligations and the list goes on. On top of all of this we train for endurance sports. With this busy schedule we keep I often hear athletes tell me they have little time for recovery work.