When you work out, it can strain (and drain) your body. If you don’t take preventative measures, it’s likely you’ll be sore afterward. We’ve got some suggestions you can incorporate for a safer workout routine and to soothe any minor injuries.
Our list of recommended products will improve your overall workout experience, soothe irritated joints or muscles, and (hopefully) prevent any serious injuries from happening.
Heating Pads and Ice Packs
One of the easiest ways to deal with sore muscles and cramps is by alternating between hot and cold temperatures with a heating pad or ice pack. Heating pads can be electric or disposable. The electric models can be large blankets with varying temperature ranges. Disposable heating pads are smaller pouches that heat up when you squeeze them.
You put ice packs in the freezer until they’re cold, and then apply them to the affected area. You can also get a combo pack, which you can heat in the microwave or chill in the freezer. Here are some of our favorite heating pads and ice packs:
- MightyBliss Electric Heating Pad: If you want to apply heat to large areas of your body and adjust the temperature to suit your needs, then the MightyBliss is right for you. It has three temperature settings and can be used moist or dry.
- ThermaCare Disposable Heatwraps: If you don’t need a heat often enough to invest in an electric heating pad, give these a try. These disposable Heatwraps have four adhesion points, and they stick to you like a large Band-Aid. They deliver constant heat for up to eight hours.
- TheraPAQ Ice Pack: You can store this gel pack in the freezer for cold use, but it’s also microwave-safe, so it doubles as a heating pad. It’s very big (14 inches x 6 inches), and the strap holds it in place over the affected area.
- TrekProof Hot/Cold Pack: This smaller product comes with two gel packs you can microwave or store in the freezer, and one strap to hold it in place. This makes it incredibly easy to switch between hot and cold. You can also leave one pack in the freezer, so you never have to wait for one to get cold.
You can also use a roller to work out the kinks in those sore or cramped muscles. They come in various shapes, so you can apply acute pressure to the tight areas to relieve pain and improve flexibility. To use one, you lie down and roll your back, neck, legs, or arms over the roller. It provides relief by mimicking the feeling of a massage.
A few of our favorites are below:
- The Original Worm Roller: The Worm is a combination of therapy balls and a foam roller. It has four rubber balls that apply deep pressure to every part of your body. Because it’s encased in neoprene, it conforms to your body and makes it ideal for all body types.
- 321 Strong Roller: If you want something more solid, the 321 Strong roller is very dense and has multiple textured areas for different levels of massage. It has a spinal column to stretch your back without harming your spine, and zones designed to mimic fingers and thumbs.
If you’re doing any sort of prolonged activity outside, it’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen. Even when it’s cloudy, harmful UV rays shine through and can damage your skin. Sunscreen not only protects you from sunburn but also decreases your risk of skin cancer.
We recommend the following sunscreens to protect you outdoors:
- Bullfrog Land Sport: This sweat-resistant formula is guaranteed to protect your skin from a broad spectrum of UV rays. It’s gel-based, which means it’s oil-free and easier to work into your skin for longer protection.
- Neutrogena Beach Defense: If you prefer spray-on sunscreen, this one is SPF 70. You can easily apply it on your own in half the time it takes to use a lotion- or gel-based product.
If you wear compression gear during and after your workout, it helps reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. It also provides extra support for your muscles and protects you from accidental strains. Compression increases the amount of oxygen your muscles receive and improves blood flow, making it a great tool to use when you exercise.
Here’s some of our favorite compression gear:
- PhysixGear Knee Brace: This slides right on your leg and fits snugly over your knee. It provides extra support to one of the most important joints while you work out—especially when you do cardio, squats, or other exercises that heavily impact that area.
- ARMORAY Arm Sleeves: These provide support to your elbow joint, but they’re intended to keep your arms warm and protect them from harmful UV rays. And that’s all in addition to the compression benefit.
- Althlio Men’s and Levanto Women’s Compression Shirts: These shirts are amazing if you want upper-body compression, and something to wick away the sweat and keep you cool during your workout. Under Armour also makes a slightly more premium option.
- Physix Gear Compression Socks: Your feet are under constant pressure because, essentially, your entire body weight sits on your ankle bone. Compression socks give you just the support you need. They also improve circulation in your feet, and make cardio or lifting heavy weights easier on your feet, ankles, and calves.
When you exercise, your body uses up a lot of important nutrients and energy. That’s why it’s so important to replenish your body with lots of water after your workout. Your muscles need protein to rebuild, your cells need carbohydrates to replenish your energy, and you need salt because you also lose electrolytes when you sweat. Chocolate milk is a very popular post-workout drink that’s filled with protein and provides just the right amount of sugars for your body.
If chocolate milk isn’t your thing, try some of these recovery drinks:
- Optimum Whey Protein: If you’re looking to build a lot of muscle mass, this can be a great way to incorporate your pre- and post-workout protein. It makes it easier for your muscles to rebuild after an intense workout, too.
- Premier Protein Shakes: These premade shakes are the perfect recovery drink—no mixing required! They come in single-serve bottles, so you just open and drink. You don’t have to refrigerate them either, so they’re easy to toss into your gym bag.
- Skratch Labs Recovery Drink: This drink completely refuels you with the perfect amount of protein, carbs, and probiotics after you exercise. It’s powdered, comes in multiple flavors, and—best of all—it’s all-natural!
You can use any of these tools separately to improve your workout. When you use them together, though, they can help you create a sustained and safe exercise routine.
And remember—nothing replaces proper form, so always keep that in mind whenever you exercise.