With another year underway, it's time for you to take your training to the next level. Recovery is often the forgotten aspect of training, but it's vital for long-term improvement. We want to make sure that 2018 is the best year for you healthwise, so we've given you our top three recovery tools to enhance your training.
Foam rollers are used by a large number of professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It’s probably the most common tool that’s used for self-manual therapy.
Self-manual therapy is used for three primary reasons:
- Increase flexibility.
- Recovery and reduction of delayed onset of muscular soreness (DOMS).
- Improve short-term athletic performance.
How to Use a Foam Roller:
- Roll back and forth over stiff or painful muscle areas for 30 seconds to 2mins.
- When you find a tight or painful area, you can press and hold over it to keep the tension on the muscle and loosen it up.
- With this said, you also want to be careful when rolling over a severely painful area; too much pressure may potentially worsen already inflamed tissues.
- When you’re working on a trigger point, use repeated shorter bouts on a muscle area. For example, you may look to roll each hamstring multiple times by swapping between legs (i.e. left, right, then back to your left, and finally back to your right).
It’s good to note that having multiple shorter rolling sessions throughout the day are better than one longer session when working trigger points.
Cost: Foam rollers range anywhere from $15 - $40, dependent upon size.
The peanut is a small peanut-shaped (go figure) ball that is best used on your upper back, known as your thoracic spine. The peanut is typically used on your shoulders and upper back, which are areas that the foam roller isn’t as efficient in. Thus, it’s an excellent addition to the foam roller.
How to use the Peanut:
- Lie on your back, then with your feet on the ground, roll up and down by bending your knees.
- Stretching your arms overhead or across the chest can help get better positioning which will give you a more satisfactory release of the muscle.
- Do this motion for about one or two minutes per muscle
Cost: Peanut roller balls range from $10 - $50.
RAD have a range of mobility and massage tools that are perfect for self-myofascial release. You can visit their site by going to https://radroller.co.nz/
Mobility Stretching / Elastic Band
It’s fair to say that stretching and mobility are one of the most skipped areas of fitness, right up there with legs day. Mobility is defined as the ability to move freely and easily. Stretching is a method to use in which to increase your mobility better.
Mobility and stretching are often overlooked due to the average person naturally having a good range of movement because they’re young. However, it’s common for people to become tighter (i.e. less mobile) as they age, and mobility is even worse when you have a relatively sedentary lifestyle (e.g. an office job). Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day has no benefits for your body, and it may even lead to lower back issues. This is where mobility and stretching should become a significant facet of your training. Spending a dedicated period to mobility and stretching on a regular basis will pay massive dividends in the long term. It will allow you to train more efficiently and reduce your risk of injury.
Using an elastic band has been shown to be effective in stretching the muscle both dynamically and isometrically. These resistance bands are versatile and light, which make them a favourite tool for use in physical therapy. Below are five stretching exercises you can incorporate into your training to increase mobility:
Anterior hip mobilisation
Place the resistance band around the top of your hamstring and then stretch that leg back, placing your knee on the ground and slowly rotating the hip forward. This stretch is perfect for loosening up your hip flexors.
Shoulder extension, external rotation
Place your hand through a resistance band and rotate your palm up. Grip the resistance band and lean back, stretching the arm above your head to engage the lat muscle. This stretch is great for opening up the shoulder joints.
While standing, place a resistance band just above your ankle and step forward with that same leg. Move your knee forward and oscillate outward. Repeat facing the other direction. This stretch is used to increase your ankle flexibility.
While on all fours, place your feet against the wall. Then, raise one leg, so the shin and foot lie flat against the wall, and step the other leg forward, foot beneath you on the ground. Engage your glutes, quads, and hip flexors by arching and relaxing your back. This stretch is great for opening up the entire anterior muscle chain, which will help you fully extend your hips, knees, and ankles during a workout.
5-minute deep-squat test
While standing, place your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your hips to your ankles, making sure your feet stay flat on the ground. Remain in that position for 5 minutes, moving slightly to stimulate circulation. Doing this will help increase mobility in the ankles, knees, and hips.