It’s one thing busting a gut in the gym, but allowing time for your body to recover is just as important. Indeed, for elite athletes, rest days, stretches and massage techniques are essential parts of their training plans.
And now these professional recovery techniques and tools are moving into the mainstream and becoming available to us all. Here are a few that can help keep your body in tiptop condition…
The genius massage gun
The MyoPro is the brainchild of professional rugby player Joe Gray. After suffering with achilles tendonitis, he created a massage gun by dismantling a drill and welding on a stool leg (don’t try this at home!) to treat his injury. When his Harlequin teammates started seeing the benefits of his makeshift tool and wanted to try it, too, he knew he was on to something. It became the MyoPro, developed with co-founder Lottie Whyte – a hockey player – and is a handheld gun with a spongy tip that uses percussive massage (rapid bursts of pressure) to speed up muscle growth and repair by increasing blood flow to them. It feels like a gentler pneumatic drill with all the love/hate of a deep massage, but can help break down scar tissue after injury and reduce muscle pain and tension quickly. £349, myomaster.com.
The ultimate cool down
Once it was only marathon runners who filled their bath full of ice to ease post-exercise aches. Now some of my friends are filling paddling pools with freezing cold water and dunking themselves daily.
Why? Because cryotherapy (exposure to extreme cold) is said to have many benefits, including aiding fat loss, reducing inflammation, balancing hormone levels and improving our immune system and sleep (see wimhofmethod.com). But now cold therapy can be done in our living rooms, with massage tools that use the cold to help repair sore muscles or hot spots.
I have been trialling the Cryo Body Ball, a handheld stainless steel tool that you throw in the freezer for one to two hours before using for just five minutes. It enhances blood flow and helps to reduce inflammation. I have a tight piriformis (a muscle in my right buttock) and it’s magic for finding the painful spot. £25, oxygenboutique.com.
The light saver
Red light therapy has been proven to have benefits: from calming mood to rejuvenating skin, reducing inflammation in joints and increasing blood circulation. I can’t get enough of the Light Salon Boost LED body patch, which has been helping heal my painful toe. I am also using it on my face for its anti-ageing benefits – plus, it’s a great excuse to lie down for ten minutes. £375, thelight-salon.com.
The feel-good footwear
If you are on your feet all day, run a lot or suffer from painful feet and joints, look into Oofos’s clever footwear. Using patented technology, its trainers, shoes and sliders absorb more impact than traditional footwear as well as support foot arches to reduce exertion in the ankles. They make it feel as if you’re walking on clouds. From £45, oofos.com.
Positive gems from Ruby
What we listen to can really affect our mood (which is why I switched off the news during lockdown). So I highly recommend Ruby Wax’s book And Now For the Good News… To the Future With Love – a lesson on zooming out on negativity and zooming in on life’s positives. £14.99, waterstones.com.
Dump the dumbbells
It may look like a large wiggly worm, but the Bala Beam is an ergonomically designed slimline weight. It comes in 6.8kg or 11.34kg and is designed to curl round your shoulders as you squat or lunge, or use it to press, curl or row. It’s a far cry from the ugly, bulky weights of old. From £80, shopbala.com.