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When you start a new workout regimen—or increase the frequency, duration, or intensity of your current one—you might not notice the impact right away. Instead, the next day or a few days later you might wake up and notice some serious stiffness. That phenomenon is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is caused by micro-tears in muscles, most often happening in movements where the muscles stretch or lengthen (like your legs do as they move through your run stride).
While nothing can product-free recovery essentials like adequate sleep and proper nutrition, these 8 muscle recovery tools that can serve as an extra line of defense against stiffness and soreness. From foam rollers to percussive massagers and compression devices, there’s something in this group that can help you get moving again faster and keep up your consistency in your routine (which, will also help improve muscle recovery over time).
If you use nothing else in the way of muscle recovery tools, the foam roller is one you should be incorporating into nearly every workout. It’s been shown to improve range of motion, decrease neuromuscular exhaustion, and decrease post-exercise soreness. Case in point: According to research published in The Journal of Athletic Training, foam rolling after a workout significantly decreases soreness up to 72 hours later.
Roll Recovery R4 Deep Tissue Body Roller | $50
Using feedback from elite athletes and physical therapists, this foam roller is all about the details. The surface pattern and high-density EVA foam deliver the best feel and friction (while also being built to last for years). The unique center groove is designed to relax the spine while rolling back muscles, but it can also be used to alleviate IT band and Achilles tendon tightness by targeting surrounding muscles.
Addaday BiOscillator | $80
This small vibrating massage roller is designed to alleviate trigger points in hard-to-reach areas that are sometimes tough to treat with a traditional, larger foam roller. Perfect for easing knots and tightness in your hips, shoulder blades, glutes, and bottom of your feet.
RumbleRoller Beastie | $24.95
And for your absolute toughest knots, consider this little guy the fiercest match. It’s extra firm, and the protruding bumps dig into hard-to-reach spots in your hips and glutes more aggressively than a standard foam roller (or even smaller go-tos like a tennis ball).
In case you’ve missed the percussive device boat over the last few years, there has been a literal percussive arms race by a few major brands to make a handheld that’s smaller, quieter, and now more technologically advanced than the last one. Adopted by people who work on tired muscles—from elite runners to physical therapists—percussive devices apply repetitive pressure in an effort to stimulate the muscles and increase blood flow to either reduce DOMS or as a part of a warm-up routine.
Hyperice Hypervolt Plus | $400
A fan favorite in the percussion therapy department, this massage gun is powerful, quiet, and equipped with built-in pressure sensor technology to help you get the most out of every session. Use the five interchangeable head attachments and three speed settings to help boost circulation, relieve sore and stiff muscles, and improve range of motion in your most overworked areas.
Theragun Mini | $200
The one downside to all the trendy handheld percussive therapy guns on the market? They’re not necessarily the most travel-friendly. Until now. Theragun’s newest model delivers the most portable massage device on the market, and with three speeds and 150-minute battery life, your muscles will still get high-caliber treatment.
Normatec Leg Recovery Pulse 2.0 | $1,295
If you’re stepping up your mileage or reaching for a longer-distance goal, these boots are an investment you’ll want to consider. Using research-backed science and “pulsing” compression, this leg-only pumped air recovery system gradually moves pressure from your feet upward toward your quads, holding two previous zones while compressing the next. Use them to warm up pre-workout, or slide them on after a 1 to 3 hour workout to find yourself feeling fresh, restored, and ready to go the next day. NormaTec’s patented technology increases circulation, and reduces pain and soreness. Before using them, testers typically needed extra days off and had difficulty with their longest workouts. Not anymore. The PULSE 2.0 also features a Bluetooth enabled app, allowing you to integrate your recovery session seamlessly into your training plan and control your session directly from your phone.
CEP Women’s Recovery Pro Tights | $120
They take some effort to pull on, but oh man, it’s worth it once you do. After a big run or a hard week of workouts, these thin, open-toe tights offer medical-grade compression to help combat swelling and stiffness.
2XU Compression Recovery Socks | $39
These socks offer graduated compression to help promote circulation through the lower limbs and improve venous return to relieve tired and sore muscles. Padded zones on the heels and balls of feet give maximum comfort when lounging in them post-run. (They’re also great for long flights before or after races!)