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Part of training smarter, not harder, is challenging yourself to incorporate recovery and rest into your training program! It's important for self-care and injury prevention, but can also help relieve muscle soreness!
I love to foam roll before and after my workouts and also anytime I am feeling tight. A common misconception is that foam rolling loosens up your muscle directly, but what foam rolling actually does is rolls your muscle fascia to eliminate adhesions (or trigger points that can cause injuries or pain) in your muscles and connective tissue.
A quick recovery session I personal use is:
1) Start by doing a full body foam rolling session (grab my favorite under $40 foam roller by TriggerPoint here)
Foam rolling only takes about a couple minutes tops and I personally use mine at home, at the gym, and at work. If you're pregnant and having back pain, it is a great and safe way to alleviate some tension!
2) Follow the foam rolling session with a firmer recovery tool (like a lacrosse ball)
Full disclosure: this is very uncomfortable at first, but if you have a muscle pull or knot this is a great way to get it out! Over time, you will get used to this recovery technique and it will not be as uncomfortable. The best way I can describe the feeling is it's like getting a deep tissue massage for a fraction of the cost! I like to roll my glutes with this tool and it really helps release the tension, so it's a great follow-up step to the foam roller in this recovery routine!
3) End with a percussion therapy session to relieve muscle soreness and stiffness, improve range of motion, promote circulation, and accelerate warmup and recovery (I recommend Hyperice Hypervolt, which you can find on Amazon here and here)
The Hyperice self massage tool is the BEST massage tool on the market! While it is an investment, I have tried multiple ones and have found this one to be the best. It has the most power with 3 different settings (low/light to high/heavy) for a more personalized recovery experience. It can be very effective using it on yourself, but certain places (like your back) are better to ask a friend for help to reach. I personally use this tool almost everyday and it really feels great on my hamstrings after a leg workout!
You can check out a timelapse of what this recovery session looks like on my YouTube channel here.
Do you use any of these recovery tools in your recovery sessions? Let me know in the comments!