Flocks of gym-goers find themselves unable to maintain consistency in their fitness program. They eagerly begin their fitness journey, salivating by just thinking about the prospect of success (each individual might have a different interpretation of success). Thereafter, they commit to a program for a few months and batter their bodies with no proper recovery plan in place, believing this is the way to go. Nonetheless, they’re sadly mistaken.
It is well documented in peer-reviewed sports science literature that a lot goes into the process of building muscle besides doing the workout itself. Nutrition, hydration, sleep, and state of mind, all play a fundamental role in affecting muscle hypertrophy. Also, a key component to this formula is the often-neglected recovery aspect. In addition to reducing tension and increasing muscle length, the use of certain recovery tools is a sure way to improving mobility and range of motion.
Why is recovery so important for gym-goers?
If you’re looking to give a 110 percent at the gym by coming in feeling fresh for your training session, then allow us to chime in and guide you. Up until now, you might have been lucky to evade a series of gym-related nagging injuries. But weightlifting for a long period of time is a totally different ball game. So your luck will most definitely one day run out if you don’t take proper care of your body pre- and post-workout.
Lifting weights can cause bone fractures, cartilage and joint damage, muscle strains and tears, as well as spinal injuries (herniated discs). As a result of taking part in resistance training, a lot of wear and tear can be accumulated over months, if not years.
According to a study published in the October 2015 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers studied the correlation between shoulder flexibility and injury risk in athletes (300 pitchers). Limited shoulder flexibility in pitchers meant that they had the chance of picking up twice as many injuries.
Whether you’re an athlete at heart or not, don’t be duped into thinking that this strictly applies to someone who only competes in a sport. This preconceived belief is far-removed from the truth. In fact, it directly applies to any gym-goer out there. For instance, if you don’t happen to have great squat mobility, it is likely because your posture and structural balance are out of whack. This means that if you carry on lifting heavy when squatting, you’re putting your body at high risk of injury.
Therefore, it is imperative for you to dedicate more time to your body’s recovery from the strains of the gym. By doing so, not only will you avoid picking up debilitating injuries, but you will also be in peak physical condition when you’re working out. It’s important to note that there’s no quick fix to this problem. However, what you can do is implement the use of recovery tools into your pre- and post-workout program so you can release tight muscles and improve mobility. Trust us, your body will thank you!
Now let’s delve into the three different types of recovery:
- Immediate recovery: involves the recovery between exertions, such as reps.
- Short-term recovery: involves the recovery between bouts, such as sets or circuits.
- Training recovery: involves the recovery between workouts where the body returns to a stage, during which it can match or exceed the performance of the previous session. The training recovery period starts the very moment you drop the weights on your last and final set.
What are 7 must-have tools for gym-goers?
- Foam roller: is a lightweight cylinder-shaped tube that acts as a self-myofascial release (SMR) tool and is made up of compressed foam. As foam rollers have grown in popularity, a greater variety has been created, some of which may contain different densities of foam, plastics, and textures. These different types of foam rollers promote different benefits. Regardless of the type you’re using, a foam roller is a great tool for relieving muscle tightness and increasing range of motion.
- Rolling stick: is a lightweight hand-held SMR tool that’s shaped like a stick and is used to apply pressure on muscles and elastic connective tissue in order to break up collagen, by creating friction on adhesions or areas of tightness.
- Massage ball: is a lightweight circular-shaped SMR tool that serves the exact same functions of a foam roller. The sole difference between the two is that the shape of a massage ball allows the individual the opportunity to target specific areas of the muscle group.
- Psoas muscle release tool: is a plastic/rubber SMR tool that looks like hooks and places perpendicular pressure on the psoas muscle. As claimed by kenhub.com: “Psoas major is a long, thick, fusiform muscle located in the lumbar region of the trunk lateral to the lumbar vertebrae and medial to the quadratus lumborum muscle.” The psoas major muscle, which is considered a postural muscle, is also responsible for flexion and lateral rotation of the thigh at the hip.
- Massage gun: is a hand-held SMR tool that is also called a percussion massager. Its ergonomic multi-grip design allows individuals to target hard-to-reach sore muscle groups. If you’re looking to put the most minimal amount of effort in your pre- and post-workout recovery, then a massage gun will do just that for you!
- Pulsed sequential compression devices: are leg sleeves that are inflated with air. These sleeves improve blood circulation, get rid of lactic acid, decrease stiffness in the legs, and increase mobility. As ridiculous as they look, they are worth the try.
- Ice baths: are commonly known as water immersion or cold water therapy. They’re used to reduce inflammation and help constrict the blood vessels after a workout in order to decrease soreness. They are a very effective method to flush out lactic acid.
Final Thoughts: Tools for athletic recovery are affordable, barely take up space, and are easy for you to carry anywhere. Make sure you give them a try pre-workout to loosen up your muscles and joints, and post-workout to assist in the process of muscle recovery and ensure optimal range of motion.