Chocolate lovers, rejoice: Drinking low-fat chocolate milk is an excellent way to rehydrate a fatigued body. In a study by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, milk has shown to be a more nutrient-dense beverage for individuals who engage in strength- and endurance-based activities, compared to traditional sports drinks. When consumed after exercising, there was a greater increase in muscle hypertrophy and lean mass.
Roll with it
The old adage "No pain, no gain" is quite misleading when it comes to exercising. In fact, an effective training regimen should not render you unable to leave your bed the next day. "Post-workout recovery is an essential element of building muscles," says Sue Hitzmann, MS, CST, NMT. Hitzmann created the MELT method, a program consisting of a soft roller, manual therapy techniques, and series of balls for the hands and feet. Using the program restores the fluid flow of the supportive tissue that connects every muscle that's used during any workout. It also "helps reduce joint inflammation and excessive stiffness in the connective tissue system," she adds. MELT Super Bundle; $150; meltmethod.com
Hot and Cold
This all-natural spray provides temporary, but fast-acting, pain relief from sore muscles and achy joints. Its active ingredient, peppermint-derived menthol, has been shown to counteract pain when applied topically. All Good Herbal Freeze with Arnica; $20; elementalherbs.com
Don't be intimidated by gadgetry when you're looking at ways to recover faster. Wireless USA is the first-ever FDA-cleared wireless NMES device designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to supercharge their workouts and speed up recovery. Wireless USA sends electronic pulses to your nerve fibers through a small device in order to create involuntary muscle contractions. These contractions reach both Type 1 slow twitch muscle (the one used for endurance) and Type 2 fast twitch muscle (for power and explosiveness), augmenting muscular effort. Complex Wireless USA; $1,150; compexusa.com
Knead Them Away
One of the most effective and restorative activity you can do after an intense workout is to get a massage. Findings published in Science Translational Medicine show that a massage after exercise-induced muscle trauma slowed inflammation. Parts of the body that were treated to a therapeutic rub were better able to make new mitochondria faster than plain resting. "[Getting a massage] increases circulation, which helps improve recovery time after events like marathons," adds Adam Broderick of Adam Broderick Salon & Spa in Connecticut. "We have a massage [in the spa] called Hot Tiger Shell massage, which uses a natural laminaria seaweed oil," he says. "When combined with heat, [it] aids in relaxing muscles more deeply and boosts the natural repairing system of your body."