Give your joints and muscles some TLC with science-backed recovery aids.
Soreness is an inevitable part of running—but recovery doesn’t mean just sitting around waiting to hit the road again. If you can maximize your time between workouts, you can get back to it sooner—and get even more gains out of each run.
A new breed of recovery aids aims to tackle a host of important things. Some increase blood flow throughout your body, others aim to decrease inflammation caused by running’s repetitive impact, then there are things that help loosen up tight muscles. There’s a lot out there! And while there’s no replacement for good nutrition, hydration, and sleep, when it comes to recovery, these seven products can help you feel your best leading up to race day.
Don’t let sore muscles slow you down. This roll-on oil stick is perfect to stash in your car or gym bag for when you’re on the go. Botanicals including menthol and camphor (which, in a study in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, were found to increase blood flow when applied topically) work alongside cannabinoids and fatty acids found in the hemp plant to start soothing fast. Plus, it’s vegan, plant-based, and sustainable, so you can feel good about using it.
This isn’t your average foam roller—and that’s a good thing. While you might resist that hurts-so-good feeling when you’re using your own body weight as resistance, the handheld, spring-loaded design of the R8 allows you to put some arm power behind the myofascial release of hard-working muscles like your IT bands, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Fine-tune the amount of pressure you’re using with a dial mechanism built into the frame.
If foam rolling and vibration therapy both reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), according to studies published in the Journal of Athletic Training and the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, what do you get when you put those two technologies together? A new Therabody tool that helps you dig into hard-to-reach muscles without making you do any extra work, that’s what. The peanut shape is designed to avoid bones and tendons around areas like your back and lower legs, and five customizable vibration frequencies help you find just the right amount of pressure.
Take your self-care up a notch by rubbing this fast-absorbing balm into tired muscles post-workout. Topical CBD was shown to reduce inflammation in a study published in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry and regulate pain perception in research published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. In this balm, concentrated levels of hemp’s active compounds, plus botanicals like willow bark and green tea extract, work together for deep tissue relief. Make it a part of your bedtime routine to max out the recovery benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Is there any better feeling than kicking off your sneakers post-run? Show your feet even more love with these recovery shoes, which feature an oversized midsole and soft foam to help distribute the natural stress to the foot and lower leg that comes from walking around. Just like a regular Hoka shoe, these slides have an unstable rocker sole, which was shown to enhance running recovery in a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
Strap on this Bluetooth-enabled sleeve to blast achy areas with hot and cold air, a kind of contrast therapy that eases inflammation and soothes pain. Your blood vessels constrict in response to air as cold as 35 degrees, then dilate as the air warms to as high as 113 degrees; this rapid alternation between temps boosts blood flow to the area to aid recovery. It’s designed for your knees, but works anywhere you’d otherwise apply an ice or heat pack.
Visiting a sauna daily isn’t exactly practical, but sitting in one can decrease muscle soreness after strength- and endurance-training sessions, according to a study published in Springerplus. Not to mention, saunas have also been show to improve sleep—the most important recovery modality—for one to two nights afterwards, a 2019 global survey found. Cocoon yourself in an at-home version that uses infrared heat to penetrate deep into your weary muscles.