If you don’t treat your body properly between workouts, you might compromise all the hard work that you put in at the gym, on the field, in the ring, or wherever you compete. For this reason, what you do before and after exercising can be just as important as what you do during it.
Below are several products that you can use in your downtime to improve recovery time, help prevent injury, and enhance your body’s ability to move better. These products often feature vibration, percussion, and/or thermal technology that helps athletes and trainers alike support improved athletic performance.
1. Percussion Massage for Recovery
As an athlete, you’re no doubt familiar with active recovery options such as yoga and stretching. One such helpful active recovery option is percussion therapy. Percussion therapy is the application of pressure, often in high-speed, repeated bursts to specific parts of the body, usually muscles or muscle groups.
Percussion therapy can enhance blood flow and circulation, which can result in pain relief and improved range of motion. There are many handheld devices (often referred to as massage guns) that can provide percussion therapy at home, without the need to see a physiotherapist. For example, the Hyperice Hypervolt comes in different sizes and at different prices and features a range of additional attachment heads you can purchase separately.
Alternatively, you can find massage guns on Amazon or other websites for as low as $40. If you’re in the market, consider things such as battery capacity, motor size, charge time, and warranty period. Also, when shopping on Amazon, be sure you know how to spot fake reviews.
2. Hot and Cold Therapy for Joints
The Hyperice X takes a different approach to active recovery. Rather than using percussion, this device uses hot and cold therapy and is designed specifically for athletes who need to pay special attention to their knees, from basketball players or regular gym-goers.
Athletes have been using temperature to treat their bodies for a long time—from heating pads for sore backs to ice packs for sprained ankles. Heat increases blood flow while cold helps reduce inflammation. Rotating between hot and cold is known as contrast therapy (moving between hot and cold) and was achieved in the past by alternating between saunas and ice baths.
With a product like the Hyperice X, you can wrap your knee in a smartphone-controlled device that automatically heats and cools to maintain the desired temperature for as long as you like (or until the battery runs out). The device is flexible, allowing you to move your knee while it’s in operation (but not enough to do much more than hobble around). This product also requires no ice to function properly.
According to Men’s Health, the device can cool as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celcius) and as high as 113 degrees F (45 degrees C). It has a battery life of 1.5 hours. If you’re unsure if this investment is for you, you can always stick to using a frozen bag of peas and disposable heating pads.
3. Air Compression for Muscle Recovery
Compression therapy is another modality that is not new in the world of athlete performance and recovery. Differing from both percussion and contrast therapy, it uses pressure to increase blood flow and can help reduce swelling. Most athletes engage in some form of compression therapy by using compression socks, sleeves, wraps, or bandages.
These days, athletes have more options thanks to technology such as the Hyperice Normatec—a device that uses air compression to aid recovery, specifically in your arms and legs. Hyperice claims the Normatec offers the best massage of your life and can help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The device is controllable via a smartphone companion app and can be applied to your legs, hips, and arms.
There are various other compression therapy systems on the marketplace and each has its own unique features. Some offer heat in addition to compression, while some are designed for calves or shoulders. Prices range from $50 to $800.
If you’re interested, pay attention to characteristics like the amount of pressure the device is capable of and whether the device allows you to control the pressure at specific regions of the sleeve to avoid any potentially painful areas.
4. Vibration Therapy
Another piece of tech available to help with muscle recovery in between workouts is a vibrating foam roller. Hyperice’s Vyper 3 is basically a tricked-out foam roller that has three vibration settings designed to improve the efficacy of a traditional foam roller. Yes, you can also control the device from your smartphone via Bluetooth and the Hyperice app, which offers guided sessions and monitors your progress.
The device can run for 2 hours on a single charge and comes in a mini version—Vyper Go—that has a slightly less powerful motor (26W versus the Vyper 3’s 34W). Keep in mind, a regular foam roller can be found for a few dollars (some dollar stores even carry them) and there are many YouTube channels that feature foam rolling routines and demonstrations.
If you’re an athlete that requires the latest and greatest and you want to take your foam rolling to the next level, then the Vyper 3 might be a product to consider.
5. Targeted Roller Ball Massage
Much like a vibrating foam roller, a vibrating roller ball improves on the tried-and-true lacrosse ball as a stretching and massaging tool. Athletes use roller balls to pinpoint areas of the body such as the difficult-to-reach back. By rolling a ball between your back and the wall, it’s possible to loosen tight muscles. The Hypersphere is one example that takes this otherwise mundane piece of recovery equipment and adds a motor so that it vibrates.
While a $150 vibrating ball might not be for everyone, it’s an innovative piece of tech that might be able to provide you with the relief you didn’t even know you needed. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, Amazon has you covered with less expensive vibrating roller balls available from various manufacturers. Keep an eye out for something with a strong motor and a good warranty.
Choosing the Right Gadget to Help With Recovery
These are some examples of a range of gadgets that can help you recover from exercise, competitions, and physical labor. While some of these technologies used to be available only to professional athletes, there are now options available for more people to purchase and use at home. As technology continues to accelerate, you can expect more gadgets to become available that aim to shorten your recovery time.