My Experiences With Different Sports Recovery Options
If you feel like every part of you is run over by a bus after sports practices, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are many different recovery methods available for athletes to alleviate soreness and pain that you can administer yourself or receive treatment for. This article will outline my experiences with several sports recovery procedures and my opinions on each one of them.
Quick disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and these are solely my opinions of different recovery methods that I have undergone. Please consult with your doctor/athletic trainer for more information about what these specific procedures are and whether they would be appropriate for you.
1. Foam rolling
Every athlete knows the miracles a tube of foam can do on your tight muscles. Personally, I prefer a long, smooth foam roller over a shorter one with ridges, but it’s really just your personal preference. Here is a list of the best foam rollers out on the market! I try to foam roll every day for 5-10 minutes; however, I really should be foam rolling for longer. According to OpenFit, 10-20 minutes of foam rolling a day can “promote blood flow, break down scar tissue and aid in recovery.”
2. Lacrosse ball
For those who don’t know already, lacrosse balls are game changers when it comes to quick sports recovery. I always carry one around in my backpack so that I can use it whenever I feel stiff. Just roll the ball over your sore muscles for almost instantaneous muscle tension relief. You can also sit on the ball to loosen out your glutes or lie sideways over the ball to loosen your hips.
3. Massage Gun
I seriously believe the massage gun is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century. Massage guns are handheld devices that use percussive therapy to ease muscle tension. Although they’re on the pricier side, they are incredibly effective in “reducing muscle pain in specific areas, muscle fatigue and lactic acid build-up.” They can also “improve your range of motion and flexibility, encourage blood flow, help with muscle stiffness and more” (Cnet). Massage guns are relatively portable (some models are slightly heavier) and can be left in your sports bag, so you can relieve muscle stiffness on the go. Here is a list of the best massage guns for 2021.
4. Sports massage
I’ve only gotten one sports massage, but I would get one every month if I could. In what’s also called a deep tissue massage, professional massage therapists will relieve muscle tension and stiffness by working on specific muscle groups. During the massage, you almost fall into a meditative state, and you wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Depending on the degree of muscle soreness, these massages can hurt in the “it hurts so bad but feels so good” way. Regardless, they are so worth it, and I felt like a new person after.
Cupping therapy uses special cups on your skin to create suction, “increasing blood circulation to the area to relieve muscle tension, improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair” (Healthline). In my experience, this form of alternative therapy doesn’t hurt that much and can provide temporary relief to sore areas. Consult, though, with your primary care provider before seeking out any cupping therapy.
6. Dry needling
Despite the intimidating name, I can assure you, from my personal experience, that dry needling does not feel like an injection or a shot you would get at the doctor’s office. Instead, it feels like a temporary deep cramp. Dry needling is performed by a dry needling certified physical therapist or doctor, and it utilizes small needles to “release any muscle knots and relieve any muscle pain or spasms” by inserting the needles into trigger areas (Healthline). Personally, I’ve felt significantly better after a couple dry needling sessions, so definitely talk to your healthcare provider whether or not dry needling would be beneficial for relieving your pain.