Tighten Up & Loosen Up: Muscle Enhancers and Relievers
A couple weeks ago, we showed you how to rock technical fabrics stylishly. Today on the health docket? 10 gadgets and wearables that will make your muscles feel awesome before, during, and after your workout.
Recovery Long Sleeve Shirt ($68): We love an item that plans ahead. This sleek top is made with sweat-wicking CLIMALITE fabric and mesh inserts that keep you cool and dry during your workout. On top of that, this piece features strategically placed compression zones designed for maximum muscle recovery after your workout.
TECHFIT Boy Shorts ($25): Also made with Adidas CLIMALITE fabric, these shorts sweep sweat away from your skin with every move you make. Best of all, they enhance the effectiveness of your workout by focusing your muscles' energy to "generate maximum explosive power, acceleration and long-term endurance" ensuring the best workout possible. And we're all over the neon-ness of this zebra print!
EasyTone Fitness Pant ($80): Part of Reebok's innovative EasyTone Apparel Collection, these smokin' fitness pants use ResisTone bands designed to create resistance as you move. On top of that, the Play Dry fabric wicks moisture, accelerates evaporation, and contours to your body for maximum support; perfect for any level of exercise.
Ex-Celerator Compression Toesock ($38): Injinji's entire collection of socks claim to enable the human foot to function more naturally and efficiently inside the shoe. The compression toesock takes that one step further with a bit of gadgetry. Designed with a graduated lower leg compression at the calf, this sock enhances circulation and expedites muscle recovery before, during, and after your workout.
Next, we've got 4 tools and techniques trainers crucial for loosening up muscles after a tough workout.
Foam Roller: Most of my clients cringe when I pull this out, but when they’re done they not only feel better, but their mobility has improved. The foam roller is a tool used for Self-Myofacial Release (SMR), as are the others you will soon read about. It’s a great way to help break-up some of the tissue surrounding the muscles which cause tightness and restrict movement. The Foam Roller is best when used on larger muscle groups because of its size. Calves, quads, hamstrings, gluteals, piriformis, and the IT band are ideal places to roll out. If you're unsure how to use it, find a trainer and ask for some tips. (Photo source)
Cane/Hook Self Massage: While the hook may look intimidating…or just odd, it is the perfect tool for getting the nooks and crannies of the impossible to reach sections in your upper back – where most of us carry our stress. Use it to massage your upper traps and back where those little knots hide so well. Find them and dig in! We recommend this set of 3 Body Back Buddy's.
The Stick: This little guy (available here) is a perfect way to get the knots in your calf muscles. You can do this while sitting at your desk by keeping your knee bent and foot flat on the floor—this will help relax your calf muscles. Now, just roll the stick on over those calves while applying pressure. The stick is also good for rolling out more specific spots on your quadriceps or IT bands.
Trigger Point Balls: These handy little things are perfect for rolling out the muscles in the arch of the foot or in upper back to help correct posture. You can buy them here ($24) or, if you're on a budget, a golf, baseball, tennis or lacrosse ball will do the trick too.
Technique: For all tools listed above, you want to start off with light pressure and apply more as you get comfortable. At times, you will feel yourself rolling over a knot. You’ll know this because…well, it’ll hurt a little (mild to medium discomfort is okay). Stop on these sections and hold for 30+seconds to allow the muscles to relax and break-up the tissue. You want to try and do this several times a week and definitely before and after your workouts.
5 Things to Avoid When Rolling Out Muscles
1. The pain you feel during Self-Myofacial Release should never be sharp. If it is, stop and consult a doctor or other health professional.
2. Always Listen to your Body. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn't! Ask an expert.
3. Never roll over a joint!
4. Take deep breaths to help you relax. Your muscles, especially those being rolled out, should not be flexed.
5. If you’re unsure what muscles need attention ask a professional.
How do you keep your muscles feeling good before, during, and after your workout? Got any homespun tools for rolling out those knots? Send tips and tricks our way on Twitter or by leaving a note in the comments below.
Tiffany Chag has been an NASM certified personal trainer since 2005. She is also a certified clinical nutritionist consultant and holistic lifestyle coach. She has experience in everything from weight loss to strength/agility training to nutritional consulting.