Since I’ve been posting about stretching and maintaining your body, I thought I’d talk about a few basic pieces of equipment that can help with muscle tightness, flexibility, and recovery. If you don’t already have this stuff, it’s all pretty affordable. I’d recommend that everyone have these three basic things to start off with—thank me later.
Foam roller. Hopefully you already have one of these. They’re really good for rolling out your back and legs. They’re convenient if you don’t have the time or don’t want to pay for a massage. Foam rollers come in different levels of density, lengths, and textures. (I’d avoid getting the cheap low-density foam rollers because those tend to break down pretty quickly.) The most effective times to use a foam roller are before and after a workout (in that order), but you can use it pretty much any time you need to. There are also many ways to target specific muscles on the foam roller, so you can easily find tutorials online. (Or shoot me an email, I’ll be sure to get back to you.)
Another tool that’s really useful to have is a lacrosse ball. It’s firm and can really get into spots that a foam roller can’t, like between your spine and shoulder blade. Lacrosse balls are especially great for foot aches (if you have plantar fasciitis, this is for you). Just like foam rollers, it’s easy to find exercises for specific muscles that you need to work on. The nice thing about lacrosse balls, too, is that they’re easy to take with you if you’re traveling or need to roll out at work or something.
Resistance bands are also handy for flexibility. You can use them to help with stretching out your hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors, adductors, and shoulders. They aren’t only limited to mobility work either; they can be used for physical therapy and working out as well. And it’s another thing that’s lightweight and takes up very little space, so you can throw it in your bag whenever you need it.
Obviously, there’s an endless supply of tools and gadgets that you can buy to help with muscle recovery and mobility. These are just the three most basic things that everyone would benefit from having at home. In addition to stretching and rolling out, I also tell people to take Epsom salt baths when they’re feeling tight and sore. The combination of the three are a great way to help ease soreness and aid in recovery.