I was racking my brain trying to figure out the best way to discuss the next step in the home gym building process the other day while driving to a physical therapy appointment. And that’s when it hit me: I haven’t discussed Recovery.
Recovery items are so very important when it comes to physical fitness. The reason recovery items are so important? Because you ARE going to hurt yourself. You will be sore, you will be tight, you will hurt. Some of the pain will be the run of the mill DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that everyone gets when working muscles unused to work. Other pain will be PAIN – the pain of actual injury…because you WILL injure yourself. I don’t say this to scare anyone, I say it because it is fact. Any injury sustained could be minor or major – and the recovery time will be based on your physical recovery abilities and what you do while injured.
Basic Recovery Items
Foam Roller(s) (SMR) – Foam Rollers come in different levels of firmness and are (mostly) color coded. White foam rollers are the “softest” and the best ones to start with if you’re new to foam rolling. I’m currently using a black foam roller – which is significantly firmer than the white. Some foam rollers also come with little “knobs” like knuckles on them (also in different firmness). These knuckle/knobs are used to dig deeper into knotted muscles. The most well known of these types is the Rumble Roller.
TheraCane (SMR) – The TheraCane is a self-massage device uniquely designed to apply pressure to sore muscles and trigger points anywhere on your body. The TheraCane uses two strategically placed projections and six treatment balls to help relieve pain. A gentle, manually applied massaging action is all that is required.
The Stick (SMR) – The Stick is used to segmentally compress and stretch muscle. It is highly effective in the treatment of muscle pain and trigger points. The Stick converts non-compliant muscle to compliant muscle by performing stripping massage (deep tissue manual therapy to clear out the scar tissue formed in muscle fiber during physical activity). These procedures remove the barriers to peak physical performance. It is the unassisted rolling, stretching, twisting and compressing of the muscle that diffuses barrier trigger points and converts non-compliant muscle to compliant muscle.
Tennis Balls (SMR) – Used to locate and release individual trigger points
Soft Balls/Lacrosse Balls (SMR) – Used to locate and release individual trigger points
Stretching Straps (SMR) – Used to assist in stretching tight or inflexible muscles
Compression Items – used to compress injured muscles to assist with healing and support
Heat Packs – used to warm the muscle
Ice (cold) Packs – used to reduce swelling of muscles
Ace Bandages/Support Items – same use as compression items except they are used while exercising – like wrist support straps used to give the wrist extra stability while lifting heavy weight(s).
Kenesio Tape – The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (Stim) – Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses. The impulses are generated by a device and delivered through electrodes on the skin in direct proximity to the muscles to be stimulated. The impulses mimic the action potential coming from the central nervous system, causing the muscles to contract. The electrodes are generally pads that adhere to the skin. The use of EMS has been cited by renowned sports scientists as a complementary technique for sports training and published research is available on the results obtained. In the United States, EMS devices are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
NOTE: I would NOT use this product without some prior experience or demonstration by a professional. I received my Stim kit and instruction under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
A good portion of the items listed above are for Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR is a term for a type of self-massage performed to release muscle tightness or trigger points. Applying pressure to these specific points on the body helps to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function (muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to perform).
I suggest that all people who work out regularly and/or are building a home gym to look into acquiring one or all of these recovery assistance items. While some of the items are a little pricey – please keep in mind that there are cheaper substitutions to be found for most of these items. Foam Rollers come in all price points (with the exception of the rumble roller), Wal-Mart sells a version of The Stick (normally $26-$50) for about $15.
Also, please don’t feel that you need to run out to buy any of this stuff ASAP. Some items will behoove you to have on hand (foam rollers, stretching straps) but other items can be purchased as needed.