I’ve been working out a lot lately. And with lots of workouts come sore muscles. Add in travel and that’s a recipe for tight shoulders too. With my old horseback riding injuries it’s easy for my shoulders and neck to get all sorts of messed up and tight. I also fell down the stairs earlier this week and felt my entire back crunch up when I did…I’m totally fine but suffice it to say my poor body has been through quite a ride lately.
I’ve been looking for ways to take care of my body…here are the regulars in my routine these days.
When you sweat a lot (a la hot yoga, or even just a vigorous workout) you need to be sure you’re hydrating all day. And especially when you sweat a ton you lose a lot of the electrolytes in your body, so I find that I like to recover with some electrolytes mixed into my water. I like Nuun Active tablets as well as the Whole Foods brand electrolyte powders. With my early morning workouts lately I’ve also been loving the Whole Foods Preworkout Drink, which again is a powder that I mix into my water and drink about 30 minutes before my workout (usually in the car on the way to barre class).
Aleve and Tylenol
I like to keep it simple. When I’m sore, I take Aleve or Advil to help with inflammation and pain. These work both on the actual feeling of pain as well as reducing the inflammation, and I truly believe as long as you’re not popping these all the time it’s plenty healthy to give your body some support in terms of repairing itself. Tylenol is also another great option that I’ve found has helped with headaches lately. Listen to your body and consult your doctor if you aren’t sure what might work, but don’t rule out these standbys.
Ice packs (and lots of ’em)
I have 3 ice packs in my freezer right now along with an eye mask in my fridge. The ice packs are different sizes and styles and they come in handy for everything from my neck to my back, my shoulders to my knees. Also handy for the tailbone when you fall down the stairs! Not only do these feel great, these are another way to help your body reduce inflammation. This is my absolute favorite ice pack because it stays nice and flexible and it’s also very soft.
ProSource Acupressure Mat
Now, this one is a wacky one. It looks like a bed of nails. It’s a little prickly at first. But I’ve found that it energizes me big time to lay on this. Lauryn at The Skinny Confidential wrote an entire post about this that convinced me to buy this, and I do not regret it. I will say I need to be careful not to use it when I’m getting a migraine as sometimes increased blood flow can cause migraines for me, but overall this is a favorite for relaxation. It’s a great way to meditate too! You can’t beat the price and it comes with a booklet that shows you lots of different ways to use it. You can get yours on Amazon.
No joke, this is my favorite tool these days. I have a knot right next to my right shoulder blade and it can get pretty painful, so I stand against the wall with this ball between me and the wall and just roll it around over that knot, and it’s amazing how much better I feel. There are endless ways to use tennis balls to roll out your muscles and as an added bonus, they’re very compact and portable! I actually took mine with me on my last trip and it was great to have it on hand in case I felt stiff and achy.
This one is a great option for rolling out those sore muscles. It’s nice and firm and doesn’t squish down at all – I’ve seen some reviews on other rollers that note that they don’t actually provide enough pressure. While you can use this all over your body, my two favorite ways are to lay on it length-wise (so it is parallel with my spine) to open up my chest and shoulders, and then to rest my neck on it so my occipital bones are right on it and gently rock my head back and forth to loosen up the tension I hold there. There are lots of videos online on how to use these as well.
Muscle Roller Stick
I absolutely LOVE my roller stick (I got this compact one) for my quads, hamstrings, and calves. Those areas of my legs can get so sore and this stick is fantastic for rolling them out and getting the blood flowing. Again, there are lots of different types of roller sticks including ones with little nubs on them, but I just found that simple works best for me here.
Massage and Chiropractor
Last but not least, these two rotate in my self-care routine based on what I need. As I mentioned before, I have some residual effects from horseback riding injuries, and I’ve found that both my chiropractor and a good therapeutic massage are incredibly helpful in mitigating the lasting effects of those injuries. I started going to the chiropractor earlier this year and it has really been a game changer. Sometimes I get so locked up in my neck and back that I can’t really turn my neck from side to side, and this is legitimately the only thing that helps. I will say, if I feel like I’m on the edge of a migraine, going to the chiro can actually make it worse so I try to be careful and go before things get too bad – if I use it as maintenance I feel much better. And as far as massage goes, I recently found a masseuse who is amazing and really helps with my neck and shoulders. This is something I hope to incorporate once or twice a month but again, it’s a game changer with all my travel and how much sitting I do.