Chasing big running goals, but worried about injuries? These 16 tools for runners will help you speed recovery and bounce back faster so you can keep going.
Think about it this way:👇👇
She’s absolutely correct: in order to run hard, we must take recovery seriously.
In the same article, Lucie lists three major areas of self-care that lead to the ultimate trifecta of running recovery:
Today, we’ll look at one subcategory of massage and bodywork: Recovery tools for runners.
Let's take a look at 16 basic and not-so-basic recovery tools for runners to enhance your post-running recovery experience.
A Golf Ball - can it be as simple as that? For those who have ever had plantar fasciitis or other foot ailments, then yes, a golf ball can do the trick. Bonus: they are highly portable In fact, I like to:
In short, golf balls are an inexpensive, effective tool to keep plantar fasciitis and other foot issues at bay.
I first learned of Gua Sha from my acupuncturist, who used one to work out my tight leg muscles.
Like the golf ball, the Gua Sha Scraper Tool is inexpensive, portable and effective, but one that can target more than just the feet.
Also, it works better than the back of a butter knife, which is what I used for years for scraping, before dropping $8 on the real thing. I use the Gua Sha on my:
Click here to learn How To Perform Gua Sha, or ask your local acupuncturist.
When I first went to a physical therapist years ago, I bought a $3 Lacrosse Ball from Amazon.com to perform the prescribed exercises.
Again, like the golf ball and Gua Sha tool, I can carry the lacrosse ball just about anywhere.
I can even leave it in my desk drawer so I can pull it out and place it under my hamstrings if they start to feel tight after sitting and working at the computer for too long.
For Christmas 2019, I traveled to Colorado to visit extended in-laws and stopped by Independence Run & Hike in Carbondale, where I first tried a massage gun.
Since then, I’ve found that my preferred way to put it to use is to bring it to the trailhead when I’m meeting friends and pass it around to get the legs fired up pre-run.
Afterward, I apply it for a minute or two down both legs and glutes.
Though I personally would not invest the $100 or more for this device, I’m thankful for the gift!
The Viwik version comes with several interchangeable heads and has six levels of vibration.
In 2012, a prenatal yoga instructor changed my life by introducing me to foam rolling.
How I could have been a runner for so long without ever knowing about a foam roller is beyond me.
But I made up for missing out on its benefits by using it every single day.
Sometime in 2010 while living in Southern California and practicing at Bikram, Ashtanga and Anusara yoga studios once, sometimes twice a day...
...I was introduced to the Ped Egg Gel Toe Separators
My fellow yogis suggested I get a pair, so I did, and they helped to stretch out my tired toes from rock climbing and running on the beach.
Now I use them at bedtime while reading with my kids
I first discovered the Roll Recovery R8 at a running store in Wisconsin in 2016 and was instantly sold.
I love bringing the Roll Recovery to the trailhead to clamp around my thighs and hips before and after a run.
TIP: It’s easier to use than a foam roller or massage ball at the trailhead, because I don’t have to get down on the ground and can use it while standing.
Looking for a deep tissue, grit-your-teeth type of foam rolling experience?
Sometimes I roll, and sometimes I place my tight calves on top of it and fold forward, staying for minutes at a time.
TIP: This one will loosen all of the tightest running muscles, if you remember to breathe into the intense sensation.
The Shakti Mat was another tool I picked up while living in southern California and fully immersed in the yoga culture, during 2009-2011.
“Acupuncture is awesome, so why not give the Shakti mat a try?” I thought.
After all, Yoga Journal magazine advertised the Shakti Mat on its pages, making it look so good, thus I went for it.
What I love most about the Shakti is that if I lie with a bare back on the mat, I fall asleep instantly. That’s right, it leads to deeper, better sleep, at least for me, and nothing leads to rapid running recovery than good sleep.
Other ways that I use it:
Physical Therapist Dr. Justin Deskovich of the Human Movement Institute, Chalk Hill, Pa., introduced me to the TRS Gemini, as well as the next two recovery tools in this list, and the last, the Voodoo Floss Band.
TIP: The book Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett provides instructions on how to use the Gemini, from head to toe, practically, covering all the muscles and body movement issues.
Dr. Deskovich, mentioned above, also showed me how to use the TRS Supernova 2.0, 120 mm for large muscles like the:
It applies harder pressure harder than most foam rollers and rolls easily in all directions, which I like, especially when working on the glutes.
Learn how to use the TRS Supernova 2.0, 120 mm, from Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett
Before purchasing the TRS Supernova 80 mm, I bought a $3 lacrosse ball (mentioned above).
While I like using both sizes of the Supernova...
TIP: Like the golf ball and Gua Sha tool, I pack the Supernovas for races and road trips when space is tight, because packing a foam roller and the bulkier recovery tools doesn’t always work.
Learn how to use the TRS Supernova 80 mm, from Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett
A runner friend with a low-back problem swears by the TENS Unit, which she recommended I try when healing from an injured big toe muscle.
At $35, it felt like a minor chunk of change to give up when I desperately wanted my big toe and arch to feel better.
I continued the following routine each day to heal the strained muscles:
Within four weeks, I was running again: I’m no doctor, but I can attest that this at-home self-care routine sped my recovery of overworked running muscles.
Since then, I’ve used the TENS Unit for other niggles, like a sore shoulder and knees.
What I like best about the TENS Unit is that it requires little to no effort, unlike the rollers, balls and other devices. I simply:
The Thera Cane Massager was popular amongst the rock climbing and kayaking communities to which I belonged.
It's also one of the first recovery tools ever gifted to me in the late 2010s.
Like most therapy tools...
TIP: I like this one best for upper body relief, especially between the hard-to-reach area around the shoulder blades, which can get tight during long, steep runs wearing a pack. It’s also useful for the IT bands.
Another portable, easy-to-use tool is The Stick (travel stick), which I learned about from a running magazine while training for the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon.
It’s another tool that I bring to the trailhead.
Thus, you exert less energy using The Stick than you do with foam rollers and balls...
Finally, let’s talk about the Voodoo Floss Band, a game-changer, in my opinion.
During the highest mileage blocks of training periods, I tightly wrap the Voodoo Floss Band around my:
Immediately after using the Floss, which restricts blood flow in order to bring fresh blood flooding back to an area...
TIP: Like the Gemini and Supernovas, Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Performance by Dr. Kelly Starrett provides in-depth instructions on how to use the Voodoo Floss, covering all the muscles and body movement issues.
In order to be a healthy, well-balanced runner, we must employ a sustainable recovery routine, one that we’ll practice, no matter what.
Our hope is that this list provides you with various ways to recover, so that you can find what works best for you.
Happy running, and happy recovery!