async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: My 6 Favorite Recovery Tools and Why They Work

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My 6 Favorite Recovery Tools and Why They Work

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Runners love their recovery and they love their rituals. A few months back, I read Good to Go, by Christie Aschwanden, in which she explored all kinds of recovery techniques. The conclusion of her exploration was that in spite of all the recovery tools and methods being marketed to us, none of them have been proven to be beneficial.

Or are they?

Research has proven the power of the so-called "placebo effect". Your brain can convince your body that a treatment or procedure is useful, even if it isn't if it really isn't. When I reviewed Aschwanden's book, the feedback on my post was not at all surprising. People commented on how much better they feel after they foam roll or take an Epsom salt bath. It may not be the foam rolling or the bath that is healing, but the ritual of taking care of oneself after a hard workout or a run.

Speaking for myself, I love to run but I'm not so great about recovery. I do have a few tools in my recovery toolbox that I regularly use, regardless of whether or not science has proven their effectiveness. All I know is that they make me feel better. That's what really counts, isn't it?



Massage
My absolute favorite recovery tool is my monthly massages. The research on massage is very limited. But as a recovery tool, I love how I feel after a massage. One study examined blood chemistry after subjects received a massage and found a decrease in cortisol, a hormone that rises in response to stress. The therapist I go to does deep tissue massage which can be painful as she works out the knots and kinks in my body. The week following my massage, I feel lighter on my feet.

Source
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Yoga
Research suggests that yoga is beneficial in reducing stress by reducing cortisol levels, which in turn reduces inflammation. There are also studies that show yoga can help improve flexibility, balance, and body awareness. I do yoga because it feels good. But it's nice to know that it is beneficial.

Supta Virasana
Reclined Hero Pose
Hot Shower
After a race or a hard run, there is nothing that feels better than a hot shower, at least for me. I couldn't find any research to support hot vs cold, but I did find a study that said bathing is more beneficial for recovery than a shower! I swear, there's a study for everything! A hot shower not only washes away the sweat, the heat also brings blood flow to the muscles and the skin. This can help remove products of inflammation as well as reduce stiffness in the body. I just like the way it feels.


Foam Roller
There isn't a lot of research regarding foam rolling but what is out there points to some benefits including loosening up the muscles as well as aiding with recovery. One study showed foam rolling can provide short-term increases in range of motion. I don't foam roll often, but I do use it pre-running to loosen up tight muscles. I've found this to be the biggest benefit.

This Trigger Point foam roller is my favorite!

doTerra Deep Blue Rub
I'm not an essential oils gal, but I do love doTerra's Deep Blue. This rub is a cream that contains Deep Blue oil, which is made up of wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, ylang ylang, helichrysum, blue tansy, blue chamomile, and osmanthus. I couldn't find any studies specific to this product, but I did find one on Tiger Balm, which is somewhat similar. The study showed relief from pain, but the researchers weren't sure if it was due to the analgesic effects of some of the components or if it was a placebo effect. I've also used a product called China Gel, which is similar and it works as well. Whatever it is, I like it.

Good Stuff!
Sleep
I do love to sleep! In Aschwanden's book, she concluded that the only scientifically sound recovery tool for athletes is sleep. Who would dispute that? We all need adequate sleep. Sleep is necessary to restore normal functions to the body. A healthy dose of sleep is between 7-9 hours. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Make sure that you avoid screen time within an hour before bed. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping (and sex) only. Keep the room temperature cool, ideally between 60-67 degrees. I like to read before I go to sleep.

It's a ruff life.

What's your favorite way to recover from a tough run?/via @oldrunningmom @TPtherapy @doterra @cragcrest #runchat #inflammation #curearthritis

What are your favorite ways to recover? Do you share any of the same loves as me? 

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics!



36 comments :

  1. I am so overdue for a massage...maybe I should treat myself to one after my next half marathon!

    Also I'm sorry that I listed the wrong topic for this week in last week's Tuesday Topics post. Total brain fart!

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    1. And here I thought it was me! I'm always mixing up the topics and the dates!

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  2. Massage and yoga are what my body needs the most! I feel so much better when I take the time to yoga, stretch and roll. I know I need to do it more.

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  3. Sleep is by far my favorite recovery tool! My approach is that you can't foam roll or ice bath or supplement your way out of inadequate sleep. I prefer the foam roller as a mobility/warm-up tool rather than a recovery tool also.

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    1. Now to figure out how to get some sleep! Insomnia is real and it's not fun.

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  4. I was just thinking yesterday that I'm way overdue for a massage. Definitely making a note to schedule that one soon! :) Sleep is also another good recovery tool as is the foam roller!

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    1. I just schedule my next massage when I'm leaving. That way it's on the calendar.

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  5. I would love to try doTerra Deep Blue rub. And, I am definitely scheduling a massage for after my half marathon. I am never super great about recovery so need to get on that!

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  6. The endless arguments over hot v cold make me laugh. I keep hearing that an ice bath is "best", but I just can't enjoy it. I'll take my placebo epsom soaks. Certainly keeps my feet in good shape

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    1. I'm with you--I'll pass on the ice. And that cryotherapy too!

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  7. I agree on massages and yoga! I definitely feel better afterward. And I've noticed that foam rolling seems to help specifically with my calves since they tend to be a problem area. This is a good reminder, its been months since I've had a massage :)

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    1. My massage therapist really digs into my calves. It hurts but later I'm loose as a goose...

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  8. I love a hot shower after a long run! I also love a massage but haven't had one in a long time.
    My knees hurt looking at that yoga pose!

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    1. You would think that pose hurts but when I can get in it, it feels so good. It's a great quad stretch and backbend.

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  9. Although I use my foam roller pretty consistently, my favorite device is the $10 beaded rolling stick (?) I got from TJ Maxx. It's much easier for trigger-point work, and it is MUCH more transportable. I should look for that do Terra Deep Blue rub...is it in stores, or online? I used to use Tiger Balm, and much preferred that to Icy Hot or Biofreeze.

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    1. You can click on the link under the photo--you can buy it on Amazon. Amazing stuff!

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  10. I love that doterra product! I swear by ice baths but haven't been training hard enough to use one. ;-) My calves are begging for a massage right now ....

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    1. I do love my massages and it's pretty much all I need for the month. Crazy, right?

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  11. Sleep and foam rolling for me. But mainly sleep!

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    1. Sleep has been a struggle for me lately, so when I get a good night I am happy!

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  12. I agree about the hot shower and blood flow, although oddly enough I don't really enjoy showering after some runs. Maybe because our bathroom tends to be cold (even though I use a space heater in there during a shower).

    Yoga. Check.
    Massage -- absolutely, but unfortunately I can't afford it as often as I'd like to. Well, I could if I cut down spending in other areas, of course.

    I also have switched to foam rolling prior to running. It's definitely good for both, but there are only so many hours in a day.

    I am still using my ShhinTek post run, too. I feel it when I don't!

    Love Deep Blue! It's an awesome product.

    My other big thing for recovery is making sure to have something with me to eat pretty quickly after a run. Usually just a snack, but I do think it's important to replenish fairly soon after a run (although depends on the length/effort to some degree).

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    1. I do try to eat a high protein meal asap after a run or when I do crossfit!

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  13. I love massage too, but I really recommend you try fascial stretch therapy. It hydrates your fascia and balances out your body. And it feels good, no pain is allowed! As an example, yesterday my hip and back were hurting (ironically from stretching too many people (men, who are tough to stretch)). I asked my boss just to traction me out. She spent about 5 minutes, and I didn’t feel a huge difference but I woke up this morning feeling great. No pain at all, which is something for me because I usually wake up with a tender back.

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  14. I love taking epsom salt baths and even though I am a terrible sleeper, it is really the best way to recover! I also use muscle rub when I am really sore - it does help a lot!

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    1. I have become a certified insomniac and will pretty much try anything to catch some zzzzs!

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  15. I really love hot showers but it's usually because I'm drenched in sweat after my run and I end up standing in my drenched clothes for too long afterwards lol. I don't get as many massages as I should but I sure love a good sports massage. My glutes and calfs are the main culprits. Sleep is a major one for me. I try very hard not to skip on it and I'm a firm believer in no TV in the bedroom!

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    1. Sleep has been elusive for me lately, so when I do get a good sleep I'm so happy!

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  16. I love massages and try to get one every two weeks. It's been a while since I got on so I am long overdue for one. I am working on the sleep component. I wake up very early so I need to make sure I also go to sleep early.

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    1. I always read before I go to bed and that seems to help me sleep...maybe it's my choice of reading materials? LOL

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  17. I found that so interesting that she recommended sleep over all else! I am pretty good at prioritizing sleep but that helped me ramp it up a bit. I am pretty good at foam rolling daily and I've started doing 5 minutes of yoga every night too including hip openers. It seems to be helping! At the very least, it's keeping injury at bay.

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    1. I really need to do some hip work; my left hip is starting to drop down when I run! I swear, there's so much maintenance!

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  18. I absolutely swear by my monthly massages too! I feel better when I do yoga - I'm just not terribly consistent. I've used the Deep Blue rub in the past - it's good stuff!

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  19. Interesting post. A weekly massage and thermal baths are part of my routine. In my city we have ancient roman thermal baths and after every workout I spend an hour there.

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