Best Recovery Tools for Every Athlete

Senior Editor Brittany Smith using Roll Recovery R8 Roller
Christian O'Toole

Recovery isn’t just about giving yourself a break; it’s when your body adapts to the stress of exercise—and gets stronger. Stronger gains rely on smarter recoveries. Fortunately there are a plethora of recovery tools that can help you do that faster.

We tested the newest offerings aimed at easing muscle soreness and helping your body get back to normal after a tough workout. These are the devices, trackers, and streaming services that’ll help you make gains faster, whether you’re a runner, triathlete, CrossFitter, or anything in between.

Video shot on location at Performance Lab by The Wright Fit

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HigherDOSE Infrared Mat
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1. HigherDOSE Infrared Mat

A typical yoga mat requires you to do the work, but all you have to do is lie on this one and let its pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) enhance cellular repair and increase circulation, while infrared heat initiates a deep-tissue sweat. The double whammy of technology helps you relax and recover, decreasing muscle soreness and reducing blood pressure. We won’t tell if you go from savasana to work calls. It’s called balance.

[$1,095; higherdose.com]

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ROLL Recovery R8 Plus
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2. ROLL Recovery R8 Plus

Instead of dragging yourself over a foam roller, pull this spring-loaded massager open and clamp it over your IT bands, quads, hamstrings and calves to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and break up muscle adhesions. With an adjustment dial hidden in the frame, you can reduce or increase the amount of force until you find the perfect hurts-so-good pressure.

[$169; rollrecovery.com]

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Lyric Massager
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3. Lyric Massager

Less industrial-looking and quieter (no jackhammering) than most, this massager eases aches, soothes stress and amps energy by applying specific frequencies to aggravated muscles. Connect to Wi-Fi and use the built-in touchscreen to choose your preprogrammed therapy, then follow the guidance to get it right.

[$200; experiencelyric.com]

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HyperIce X
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4. HyperIce X

During contrast therapy, cold constricts blood vessels and heat dilates them to circulate nutrient-rich blood and aid recovery. Formerly, this required jumping in and out of tubs. Now you can stay dry and spot treat achy knees with a Bluetooth-enabled sleeve that dances between a numbing 35 degrees and a soothing 113 degrees. Straps ensure a snug fit, but you still can move freely. No more fussing with ice packs or heating pads.

[$399; hyperice.com]

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Ease your transition between workouts with futuristic devices that make muscle soreness a thing of the past.
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5. Therabody RecoveryAir System

You can’t splurge on a massage after every workout, but you can get the same benefits from compression boots. Therabody employs full inflation and deflation to wring metabolic waste from muscles like a sponge, as well as a sequential pressure gradient that starts at the feet to encourage blood flow to the heart, boosting circulation for a quicker comeback. Bonus: You can also adjust the pressure intensity.

[$699; therabody.com]

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Sky Ting TV
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6. Sky Ting TV

Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernahgan co-founded Sky Ting Yoga in 2015 in Chinatown, launching more airy, cheerful locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan following their first studio’s success. If you don’t live in the area, you can reap the benefits of their classes with the newly launched Sky Ting TV. They have options for a multitude of skill levels, time restraints, and preferences. Choose from restorative flows; mobility sessions to open up your hips and shoulders; quick, energizing mini classes; and hour-long detoxes. This is yoga sans pretension that’s perfect for cross-training days, guys who want to get better at yoga, and anyone looking to boost flexibility and mobility. Trust us when we say you’ll feel like a new human by the end—light, relaxed, and gloriously loose.

[From $20/month; skyting.com]

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Nike React Infinity Run
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7. Nike React Infinity Run

Nike’s hedged the React Infinity Run as an injury-prevention shoe (yes, a lofty statement). Roughy 16,000 miles were logged in the prototype, making it Nike’s most tested running shoe to date. In an independent study, researchers had 226 runners complete a 12-week training program, wearing either the React Infinity Run or the Structure 22. In all, they logged a total of 60,000 miles. The results showed that the React Infinity Run reduced injuries (knee, foot, shin, and calf) by 52 percent compared to the Structure 22. Reserve these for your recovery days (light shakeout runs) and short-mileage training sessions. For all the specs on the shoe, read our full review on the Nike React Infinity Run here.

[$160; nike.com]

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TheraGun Liv
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8. Theragun Liv

Soft-tissue treatment devices like the Theragun use percussive therapy to speed up recovery by releasing muscle tension, breaking up scar tissue, and increasing blood flow—and man it hurts so good. It used to be that you could only find these in a gym or PT office, but the latest versions are priced for the average gym-goer. This is the lightest, most compact version yet, small enough to fit in your gym bag and still powerful enough to get the job done.

[$249; theragun.com]

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Hyperice Hypersphere Mini
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9. Hyperice Hypersphere Mini

Massage balls target and release tight spots and trigger points (or knots) in your muscles on a deeper level than your average foam roller. This one-pound, travel-friendly version of the existing Hypersphere—which vibrates at three speeds for different levels of penetration—is just three inches in diameter, so you can really zero in on harder to reach problem areas and relieve common workout issues like plantar fasciitis, tight hips, and upper or lower back soreness.

[$99; hyperice.com]

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TriggerPoint Charge
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10. TriggerPoint Charge

This tiny, two-pound roller’s got some serious curves. Shaped like two conjoined massage balls with a dip in the middle, it can work like a flat foam roller for areas like your upper back and then really dig into slimmer areas like your biceps and calves. The wide and narrow ridges on the surface work together to stretch and squeeze your muscles, pushing blood and oxygen to stressed-out tissues.

[$40; triggerpoint.com]

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Momentus ArcFire Grass Fed Whey
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11. Momentous ArcFire Grass Fed Whey

The search for “clean” protein powder is often fraught with misleading marketing jargon—and as for the protein powder itself, unnecessary added sugar and fillers. We like Momentous because their whey protein comprises grass-fed whey protein isolate that’s been cold-pressed so as not to diminish the levels of branched-chain amino acids (which help build muscle and relieve muscle soreness). They also have an enzyme blend called ProHydrolase that, combined in a 10:1 ratio with protein, results in fewer GI issues (like bloating and indigestion) and better protein absorption. Their ArcFire Grass Fed Whey also has a 4:3 protein to carb ratio that refuels your body with just enough carbs for recovery—nothing more, nothing less.

[$55; livemomentous.com]

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Recoup ColdSleeve w/ BOA
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12. Recoup ColdSleeve w/ BOA

Struggling with shin splints, tennis elbow, or runner’s knee? This cold sleeve fits over either arm or leg, providing cold and compression for up to an hour. Just toss it in the freezer for up to two hours to activate. It’s fitted with a Boa Fit System that lets you micro-adjust how snug the sleeve is, so you won’t struggle to keep it on your shin, knee, hamstring, or quad. Make it extra snug to get the benefits of compression to help heal an injury, or keep it more lax for regular post-workout recovery. It’ll alleviate all matter of inflammation, soreness, and pain.

[$90; recoupfitness.com]

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Thr33 CBD Infused Muscle Relief Cream
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13. Thr33 CBD Infused Muscle Relief Cream

Thr33‘s a community of hustling athletes hoping to eke out as much of their potential as the clients they train. Their first launch is a pain-relieving cream. Lab-tested CBD and ingredients like lanolin and menthol work to tamp down inflammation and cool on contact. Massage into tight areas post-workout or before bed so it can help soothe aggravation and get you back on your feet; or, use it before a session if you’re particularly sore.

[$70; thr33.com]

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Whoop 3.0 Strap
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14. Whoop 4.0 Strap

Forget activity tracking; the third-generation Whoop (the first wrist-worn tracker allowed on MLB fields) measures how hard you work out and how well you recover from that workout using biometric data like heart rate, heart rate variability, ambient temperature, and motion. Enhanced features include Strain Coach, which recommends how hard you should (or shouldn’t) push yourself at the gym, and HR Broadcast, which lets you connect to Peloton devices, Wahoo computers, Concept2 ergometers, and TrainerRoad.

[$30/month, device ships free with membership; join.whoop.com]

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Hammer Nutrition Recoverite
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15. Hammer Nutrition Recoverite

Endurance athletes require a different kind of fuel post-workout than those who train in the gym—something with a higher amount of carbs. Recoverite’s formula has a 3:1 ratio of complex carbs to protein (either whey protein isolate or organic pea protein if you opt for the vegan protein), as well as 3 g of L-glutamine to repair muscle tissue and support immune health, and a full spectrum of electrolytes.

[from $3.50; hammernutrition.com]

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YogaToes for Men
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16. YogaToes

If you’re a big runner, your feet take a beating. YogaToes helps give your toes the space they need to come back to their optimal alignment. The soft medical gel is nice and malleable, but you’ve gotta work to get them on your feet. Start with just 10-15 minutes at first since it can be intense. They’re said to ease pain related to plantar fasciitis, flat feet, and hammer toes.

[$37; yogatoes.com]

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PowerDot 2.0
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17. PowerDot 2.0

It used to be that you had to go to physical therapy to reap the benefits of stim. Now you can prime your body for a workout, hasten recovery, and help heal injuries with a portable device at home or in the gym. The PowerDot 2.0 uses small electrical currents to cause muscle fibers to contract, boosting blood flow and relieving tension. The device magnetically connects to the electrode pads, making it much easier to attach to hard-to-reach spots. The app is very user-friendly to boot, illustrating proper electrode placement and offering a variety of programs. Opt from muscle recovery, training & performance, pain relief, and injury prevention.

[$199; powerdot.com]

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