Have you ever gone through CrossFit, orangetheory fitness, or a similarly intense exercise regimen and felt some muscle pain? Or have you participated in some peloton and noticed muscle soreness? Or maybe you’re currently finding it difficult to live out the active lifestyle you want because of muscle aches. It can be very difficult at times to cope with the pain. What you might need at those times are some products to relieve the pain and facilitate awesome muscle recovery.
In this article, we’ll look at muscle recovery in detail. We will also explore therapies that may be useful in such cases. We will then review some products you can use to achieve muscle recovery and pain relief.
The Science behind Muscle Recovery
Muscle pain after a workout or a weekend of intense exercise can be distressing. But scientifically, it can be a good thing. Muscles and connective tissue around them get damaged during exercise. This is true. But then while being repaired, these muscles get rebuilt stronger than they were before exercising. This results in you having stronger muscles and gaining strength. So there is a benefit to some soreness.
Of course, this soreness is not completely important for muscle growth. You can still achieve muscle strength even if you don’t have muscle pain. As such, it doesn’t mean your muscles won’t grow if your muscles aren’t feeling sore after a workout.
So what can aid muscle recovery?
There isn’t any instant, 100% permanent relief as yet but there are things that can help bring relief to those aching arms and legs. Here are a few of the basic ones that can aid recovery:
- Applying ice to the affected muscles in some cases
- Resting the muscles
- Using anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs
- Giving the muscles a soothing massage
- Applying heat to the muscles can also be helpful in some cases
- Gently stretching out the muscle groups
- Utilizing light aerobic exercises to cool down after the strenuous bit.
It is important to note that complete inactivity might not be the best. Some experts believe that decreasing, but not stopping completely, all exercise when there is muscle soreness is the way to go.
What about hot vs cold therapy?
This is based on heat application to aching muscles. This often works best when the soreness has been for about a few days or more. Why is this? It is because the heat applied helps to open up blood vessels, and consequently blood flow to the muscles increases. This can facilitate recovery and take the edge off the pain. Heat can be applied by using a warm towel. It may sometimes be better to use an appropriate heating pad. To avoid burning yourself, keep a towel between your skin and the heating pad. Also, only apply heat for about 15 – 25 minutes at a stretch.
Many devices use this principle of heat application to relieve muscle soreness. One of these is the Aura Revive Heated Deep Muscle Pain Relief Device. It is available from the FSA store and works in part on this principle. By applying heat to various pain points, the device promises relief from the pain. The application of heat is aided by the device’s percussion feature.
Another device that works on this principle of heat therapy is the Pure Enrichment® PureRelief™ XL Heating Pad. It is an FSA-eligible device. It is armed with six (6) InstaHeat settings and it assures of a heat therapeutic experience that will resolve muscle aches effectively.
The application of cold for muscle aches and soreness works best when the soreness is very recent. This is because when tissues are damaged they cause swelling or inflammation in the tissues. This isn’t bad in itself, as this mechanism is there to help your body recover and keep you from doing any more damage to those tissues. Applied cold helps to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain from the aching muscles. It also reduces pressure on the injured parts that would result from the swelling.
Cold therapy can be used for muscle recovery and pain relief easily. Just get either a pack of ice, a bag of frozen food, or perhaps a towel that has been frozen. Of course, you should keep a towel between your skin and the cold applicator. You must ensure the cold applicator you are using does not stay on your body for more than 20 minutes at a time. The prolonged exposure may cause far more harm than good. Also, pay close attention to your nerve points. The less time the cold applicator spends on your nerves, the better for you and the nerves. Allow some time, about an hour, to elapse before you re-apply the cold applicator. Two to three days immediately after the soreness starts is the ideal period when cold therapy is most beneficial.
There are several muscle recovery products and devices that utilize the power of cold therapy to achieve relief from muscle soreness and pain. The Recoup Fitness Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller is one such device. An FSA-eligible device, it consists of a free-rolling sphere that can be chilled. It can be used to give an icy massage to any aching muscle group and promises relief through cold therapy-driven massages.
What about Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS therapy?
The therapy mode is based on the use of low-voltage electric currents to manage pain. This is a controversial method in scientific circles. The research on it appears to have conflicting results, with some supporting its use while others conclude that it may not be effective. In general, TENS therapy may provide some pain relief when you first try it out. This effect may wane over time and you may start seeing less effect from its use. If you wish to use it, you should combine it with other muscle recovery methods.
The Therabody PowerDot 2.0 Uno is a device that is FSA-eligible and works on this principle of electrical stimulation. As an electric stimulator pod, the device promises to deliver electrical stimulation to aching body parts to achieve relief. It is based on the principle of TENS and works similarly.
Vibration and Compression Therapy
Vibration therapy is widely used for the relief of muscle pain and soreness. It has been proposed that its use can even prevent muscle soreness after exercise. However, the consensus appears to be that more research is needed on the efficacy of this method.
For example, the Aura Revroll Heated Vibrating Foam Roller uses a combination of vibration therapy and heat therapy. Among other uses, it promises relief from muscle aches by the application of heat and vibrations at varying levels of intensity. It also included deep compression in addition to the two therapy modes earlier mentioned. It can be purchased from the FSA store.
Several devices employ compression and massages to relieve pain and muscle soreness. A good example is Normatec 3 legs Recovery system, by Hyperice. This is FSA-eligible and is a pair of compression massage boots for your leg muscles. This is a popular form of recovery for many athletes, including FIFA world cup 2022 star Neymar Jr. of Brazil who posted himself in a pair of leg compression boots after a terrible ankle injury.
From the makers of Theragun, Therabody launched the RecoveryAir Jetboots, a fully customizable pneumatic compression system that can complete a recovery cycle in 60 seconds, 2-3x faster than competition.
You can browse Therabody’s complete FSA and HSA eligible line at BuyFSA.com.
Myofascial release and Acupressure
Of course, not all muscle recovery products that are available are viewed as strictly based on orthodox medicine. There are some that, while they promise to provide relief from muscle soreness and pain, may be based on principles asides from the ones mentioned above. Some medical authorities do not accept these particular products as efficacious and do not believe they can get the job done.
The Kanjo Pain Relief Gua Sha Myofascial Tool is an FSA-eligible device that uses unique pain relief principles. The healing technique used in this tool is known as Gua Sha. This technique is based on Eastern Traditional Medicine. It promises pain relief and inflammation resolution through the scrapping of the skin to undo “fascial adhesions” and increase the flow of blood to affected areas. Gua Sha therapy posits unblocking the “meridian pathways” through which “chi” energy flows to achieve relief from aches and pains.
The Kanjo Memory Acupressure Mat Set is another muscle recovery product based on a unique principle. The Mat Set, complete with a pillow and amethyst, promises to relieve back, shoulder, and neck pains by targeting acupressure points. So back and neck muscle aches are the targets of this device. The Mat Set works on the principle that acupressure points can be manipulated to bring some relief and pain reduction in various body parts.
Muscle aches and pains can be distressing and discomforting. They can be severe enough to disrupt your active life and exercise pattern if you allow them. Some techniques and principles have been proven to facilitate relief from muscle soreness and accelerate recovery. FSA-eligible muscle recovery products that are based on these principles and techniques are available and are yours for the taking.
So what are you waiting for? Seize control of your active lifestyle, get it back on track, and keep it there! You’ve got the tools you need right at the tip of your fingers.