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a woman uses a Theragun on her leg

For many years, my fitness motto was “No days off.” My goal was to work out as hard as possible, as often as possible. “Workout” contained the word “work” for a reason, I thought, so I pushed myself through hours of tough exercise each day.

I scoffed at anyone who advised me to enjoy my youth. To me, age was nothing but a number, and R & R — in this case, rest and recovery — was just an excuse to skip putting in the work.

It’s no surprise that this approach eventually caught up with me. Although my 20s were marked by a go-hard-or-go-home attitude, this next decade has brought a slow realization that rest and recovery are vital — not just to maintain a fully functioning, uninjured body and a calm mind, but also to make any real progress in my fitness goals.

At 38 years old, I still put work into my workouts. Only now I put in the work of self-care, too.

First and foremost, I make sure I’m sleeping, eating, and hydrating enough, practicing active recovery, and managing my stress.

The next layer of recovery, for me, involves professional services like massage — as well as a handful of at-home tools.

These are my four favorites, ranging in purpose and price point. (Note: None of these recommendations is sponsored — they just happen to be what I enjoy using.)

Gaiam Restore Ultimate Foot Massager

Gaiam Foot Massager

Until recently, I used tennis and lacrosse balls to help relieve ­muscle tension, but I’ve upgraded to this nubby version from Gaiam. I love this mini massager for rolling out the ­bottoms of my feet and my lower legs (especially after a run or long hike), as well as my upper back. $7 at www.gaiam.com.

Chirp Wheel Trio

Chirp Wheel Trio

As much as I move during the day, I also spend a lot of time hunched over my laptop and phone. To counter­act the slouch, I use Chirp Wheels as an alternative to the standard foam roller; they’re made specifically for rolling the back. $45–$65 at www.gochirp.com.

Theragun Prime

Theragun

Quite honestly, I wasn’t convinced that this ­percussive-therapy device from Therabody was worth the splurge. But after weeks of dealing with a sore calf muscle that no amount of rest or manual bodywork cured, I was ready to see what all the hype surrounding these muscle-pummeling tools was about. I waded into Theragun waters with the mid-priced $299 Prime, and after just one try I was hooked. I like using it to target tension in my calves, feet, and upper back. $199–$599 at www.therabody.com.

Osmia Orgnics Recovery Salt Bath

a bowl of epsom salts

A bath is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day or a hard workout, and these Osmia Organics bath salts increase the luxuriousness of the experience. Gray sea salt and magnesium-rich Epsom salts are combined with a soothing aromatherapy blend of lavender and marjoram. While I still love plain old Epsom salts as a quick hit for muscle recovery, this relaxing blend is something special. $29 at www.osmiaorganics.com.

This article originally appeared as “Making Time for Recovery” in the November 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Maggie
Maggie Fazeli Fard

Maggie Fazeli Fard, RKC, is an Experience Life senior editor.

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