Updated: May 13
Athletes every day are pushing the envelope when it comes to lasting more time in their respective sports. Take LeBron James for example, the NBA MVP famously spends an average of $1.5 Million dollars a year on his "self-care" routine. At the age of 36, he continues to play basketball at a high level by incorporating massages, therapists, trainers, and nutritionists. Now granted most of us don't have $1.5 Million laying around, to begin with, however, this should not prevent us from putting top priorities on our health and fitness. Health is more than just a moment in time when you were at your best fitness level, it also involves self-care. Health is a journey that should be embraced as a routine part of our daily living. A big part of taking care of our bodies is rehab and recovery. Inflammation is a natural response by our bodies to injury, that involves swelling, redness, and sometimes pain. This makes inflammation part of the healing process in building muscle mass. Some argue that this inflammation should not be treated, and should take its natural course in order to allow for hypertrophy. However, prolonged inflammation in the body is not healthy and can be painful like the one associated with joint pain. This list of treatments is accessible to anyone, for when your theragun and the Icy Hot just aren't cutting it, and a few of them can still be done at home. These are 7 treatments for rehab and recovery:
1. Cryotherapy/Ice bath
If you haven’t heard of Wim Hof you’re missing out on learning from an eclectic individual, who could be considered the father of cold plunges. Cryotherapy involves stepping into a chamber with sub-zero temperatures to bring down inflammation in the body. This process can actually speed up recovery, improve sleep and focus, as well as many other neurological and hormonal functions. Cold plunging has also been proven to increase metabolism. The best part of cold therapy is that you could test the benefits by simply turning the shower knob to cold. If you have a tub adding some ice and taking a dip is also a great option.
2. Deep Tissue Massage
Sometimes a theragun just doesn’t cut it. Our muscles become sore from lactic acid buildup, which is a by-product of anaerobic exercise. The body part is usually not sore after a couple of days, however after a period of time our muscles become tighter (shorter in length) and this can lead to discomfort and pain. Furthermore, stress from our daily lives can also be found as cortisol in our bodies which can lead to other health issues. Getting a Deep Tissue Massage can do wonders for your health and relieve tightness in muscles and decrease levels of stress. You might think you don’t need it, but take my word for it: once you see the results you will work in massages your routine.
3. Cupping/Scraping (Gua Sha)
Red dotted bruises were first made famous by Michael Phelps at the 2016 Olympics. However, cupping is an ancient practice that involves taking a cup and pressurizing it against your skin. This draws the skin upwards (suctions) and the underlying fascia which relaxes. The procedure improves circulation which can aid in recovery. It is also said to aid in the movement of cellular fluids into the lymphatic system, providing an immune-stimulating effect. A scraping massage also offers similar effects, with the use of a Gua Sha. The Gua Sha is a tool used to scrape the surface of the skin to stimulate blood circulation which decreases inflammation. Scraping can relax muscles and speed up recovery.
4. Salt bath
The Epsom salt bath has been used for hundreds of years to aid in pain and aches. Soaking in a warm bath can loosen stiff joints and relieve sore muscles. Just think about the last time you sat in a jacuzzi, but in this case, the minerals from the salts are absorbed into your body with their own set of benefits.
5. Infrared Sauna/Sauna
Getting in a Sauna is good for you both mentally and physically. Similar to what we see in a warm bath soak, the Sauna relaxes muscles and can help achy joints by reducing inflammation. It can also improve your heart health as it improves circulation and cardiovascular endurance. Lastly, some studies suggest that using the Sauna can also help preserve muscle mass.
When was the last time you took a visit to the Chiropractor? -and I’m not just talking about satisfying your ASMR. Chiropractic therapy can come with cracking benefits such as improved posture, reduced pain, and improved ROM in your joints. Many pains and aches that we experience come from poor posture or repetitive stress. Our bodies over time compensate for weaker muscles and this creates imbalances that can be caught and worked on by a Chiropractor.
7. IV therapy
IV Therapy is not a common practice in recovery regimens. If you’re afraid of needles it’s certainly not for you, however, this procedure can speed your recovery and give you an unexpected edge. If you’re consistently in the gym, it is likely that you are depleted of nutrients, vitamins, and electrolytes, or deal with dehydration at some level. If you tire quickly, feel sluggish, or that you’re taking longer to recover, this might be the case. IV therapy is a quick way to deliver these essential vitamins, nutrients, and hydration into your body, with the benefits being almost instantaneous. After one session you’ll likely feel a jolt in your energy levels. The downside is that this may be pricey, but you can certainly find something in your budget with a little research.
Recovery is perhaps the most underappreciated aspect of training. Sure the active portion of our training is the most fun, but seeing results is just as rewarding. Some of these treatments can be done at home or are otherwise accessible. Incorporating some of these treatments will have you feeling refreshed, recovered, and ready to kill it at your next session.
Before starting any fitness program or dietary changes, including supplementation, please consult your physician for a thorough examination.