Ahhh, that feeling of running hard. Sometimes it hurts — during AND after your run or race (Novant Health Charlotte Marathon runners, amiright?) Is there anything you can do to help speed up recovery?
Go into any running store and you’ll see multiple types of rollers (short! long! with knobs! smooth! foam! sticks! double-edged!) that claim to be the magic bullet. Which should you pick? Do they all work the same? Do they work at all?
And how about those expensive recovery boot thing-a-ma-jigs? Do you really have to spend thousands of dollars on compression boots to recover faster?
We asked Will Hayes, Performance Manager at Novant Health Sports Performance for his expert opinion on the usual recovery tools we see at stores as we shop for the holidays.
Self-myofascial Release Implements (rollers, etc.)
- Best for stubborn areas in pre-training and globally post-training to improve range of motion in joints
- Induces para-sympathetic response in post-training to help bring the body into a recovery state
- May potentially speed up post-training recovery through increased muscle “flushing” by changing the pressure gradient in the muscle
Normatec Recovery Boots
- Some athletes may find them beneficial (whether placebo effect or not)
- If a runner has the funds to spare, they can use boots in post-training to aid the recovery process
Percussive Massage Tools
- Research supports acute effects on athletes
- Can be used pre- or post-training to improve range of motion in joints
- Similar physiological effects to foam rollers but some studies show larger acute effects
“Soreness is derived from acute microtrauma to the muscle itself,” Hayes reminds us. “None of these techniques will change someone’s soreness.”
Now about those boots, which look impressive and appear to make great high-dollar gifts: consider them one more tool in your recovery toolbox, not the end-all, be-all of recovery.
“When you exercise, muscle tissue breaks down causing inflammation and swelling, says Dr. Doug Bradberry of GreenApple Sports and Wellness. “Compression helps flush out the resulting toxins and excess fluid. This reduces soreness and has the potential to speed up recovery and improve performance.”
The boots’ popularity as the latest next-level recovery option has even prompted local businesses like RecoveryCLT to deliver them to your door!
While our experts won’t agree that these recovery items will work for everyone who uses them, the bottom line is, “If they make you feel better, use them.” A placebo effect is still an effect and if it gets you out there on the pavement or trails sooner, who’s going to tell you not to use them?
Hayes recommends the following exercises for each of these tools, so follow along with his instructional images and try them out!
Hyperice / Theragun