There’s no shortage of injury prevention and rehab products on the market today, and all of them promise to heal or prevent what ails you as a runner.
We’ve narrowed down that exhaustive list to six items that no runner’s self-care kit should be without.
Skin LubricantsBody Glide | SLIK Anti-Friction 1 of 7
While it may not keep you from finishing a race, chafing and blistering sure can make you miserable. Avoid this pain by using a skin lubricant such as Body Glide or SLIK Anti-Friction lube on areas where your clothing tends to rub. For women, this can be where your sports bra rests under the arms. For men, chafing might be common in the groin area.
Kinesiology TapeKinesio Tex | KT Tape 2 of 7
Kinesiology tape is a stretchy cotton tape meant to mimic your skin that stays on during even the sweatiest of workouts. Kinesio Tex and KT Tape can provide support to muscles and joints during exercise, and the tape reportedly helps rehabilitate injured muscles as well.
Compression GearPro Compression 3 of 7
At just about any race, you're bound to see a handful of runners wearing compression socks, sleeves or tights. This tight, elastic clothing reportedly improves blood flow and circulation, thereby limiting edema (swelling of the feet and ankles).
Runners and other athletes also use compression gear after a workout to speed recovery. While many average and elite runners alike swear by compression gear, few studies have been able to confirm the benefits.
It's best to try out compression gear for yourself to see if it works for you.
Self-Massage ImplementsThe Stick | The Orb 4 of 7
A standard foam roller works well for loosening a tight IT band, but to really get into the hips, calves or shoulder complex, you need something more. Fortunately, there are a number of runner-specific self-massage products available. The Stick and similar muscle rollers are ideal for massaging the muscles of the lower leg. If you want to get into your glutes or behind your shoulder blades, then the Orb by Pro-Tec—or even a plain old lacrosse ball—will work wonders.
Tip: Spend about 20 to 30 seconds rolling over tight areas, applying what feels like moderate to hard pressure.
Foot RollersFoot Gym | Polar Foot Roller 5 of 7
Because runners spend so much time on their feet, foot rollers deserve a mention of their own. While companies like TriggerPoint and Thera-Band make standard, dowel-type rollers, the Foot Gym combines both a roller and a number of other devices that allow you to not only massage, but also strengthen your feet. Runners suffering from plantar fasciitis may also benefit from using a cold foot roller, such as the Polar Foot Roller by Gofit.
Cold TherapyArcticEase | ActiveWrap 6 of 7
To soothe aching muscles and speed recovery after a long or intense run, many runners turn to cold therapy. While an old-fashioned ice bath may also be effective, it's certainly no fun submerging everything from the waist down in freezing water. Luckily, a few different companies have created cold compression wraps you can apply directly to the effected areas.
ArcticEase makes all-purpose wraps that you can use on any part of your body, while ActiveWrap makes high-end, body part-specific wraps that can be used for either hot or cold therapy.
Pain and injuries don't have to be a part of running. With a little help from these industry innovators, more of your miles can be strong and healthy.