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
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
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 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.