Recovery Tools You Should Have at Home

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I recently got injured in a freak incident while doing the last set of finishers of my strength and conditioning workout. I had just started the second to the last high knees/sprint with my partner holding me back with a resistance band when I felt a pop in my calf. It felt like the muscle from my calf had just snapped from the Achilles tendon – which essentially it did. Thankfully, it was just a calf muscle strain, which is common in athletes, and could also happen during a simple stroll. However, the pain is real and so is the recovery.

Being injured is never fun, especially when it affects necessities like walking. As Jiu-Jitsu athletes, we: 1) don’t want to go to the doctor because we don’t want to hear how long we should be resting, thus we 2) self-diagnose our injuries which may or may not be the case and 3) we try to hurry the recovery process along by not resting enough. I am currently in this process and am trying to do everything that I can to heal quickly while being cognizant of not re-injuring myself.

When I got home from the gym, I immediately went to look for an ice pack and Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling. While icing my leg, I also elevated it to help continue to reduce the swelling. The next day, I went to my chiropractor, who is also my BJJ teammate. He educated me on the importance of not skipping out on the COMPRESSION part of the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy. He related that this doesn’t just mean wearing compression sleeves, but rather, using compression bands (commonly known as floss bands in physical therapy). He wrapped my leg from my ankle all the way up my calf and then asked me to move my foot up and down while he massaged the banded area for 2-3 minutes. He followed this up with cold laser treatment, which is used to reduce swelling and promote the healing of the nerve and muscles.

Immediately after my chiropractor visit, I tried to find a floss band at my local sporting goods store (Dicks and REI) and drug store to no avail. This got me thinking about all of the things I should already have at home for recovery and injuries. After all, some of us carry first aid kits, so we should have something similar at home should you get injured at the gym.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Foam roller
2. Massage gun – While these can be pricey, you can DIY and make one with a jigsaw gun that you can find at your local hardware store and a lacrosse ball.
3. Ice packs
4. Floss band – You can find these online easily, but if you need something in a hurry like I do, go to your local bike store and ask for a broken bike tire. Clean it and cut it so that it opens up to a long band. My chiropractor did this and you can’t tell the difference.
5. Ibuprofen – Stock up on Aleve, Advil, or Tylenol.
6. Heating pad
7. Epson salt – Soaking in Epson salt has a ton of benefits for recovery and is convenient if you have a bathtub at home.

We never anticipate injuries, but when they happen, it’s definitely better to be prepared than not. Additionally, the older we get, the more we need to take care of our bodies. Recovery therapies like cryotherapy, compression sleeve, massage, and chiropractic care can be expensive and should be used sparingly if you don’t have the money or time. If you have these items/tools at home, it will help out greatly! Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

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