Float Tanks1 of 8
In rooms or pods devoid of light and sound, float tanks (also known as "sensory deprivation tanks") are filled with body-temperature water saturated with magnesium, making the occupant completely buoyant. A session can last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes with the benefits being twofold.
Firstly, eliminating external stimuli allows the body to achieve a natural restorative state, imparting similar benefits as yoga or meditation and reducing stress. Secondly, floating in approximately 1,000 pounds of dissolved Epsom infuses magnesium into the body, which has been shown to assist in reducing muscle soreness and inflammation. For these reasons, float tanks are embraced by people with athletic or chonic injuries, as well as those looking to reduce stress or anxiety.
Cupping2 of 8
When Michael Phelps took to the pool in Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympics, the purple circles all over his back and shoulders left people with a lot of questions. The spots were a result of the ancient Chinese medical practice known as cupping, which uses small suction cups on the body to bring blood to the skin and help improve circulation and treat pain.
While the practice has its fair share of skeptics, many elite athletes swear by its effectiveness. Studies have demonstrated benefits of the relatively non-invasive practice, but more time and research may be required until the practice is widely accepted. If you're interested in trying cupping, find a skilled practitioner to find out if it can help you reduce muscle soreness and speed healing.
IV Bars3 of 8
"IV lounges" are popping up all over the place, boasting that IV therapy is an easy way to hydrate the body by delivering vitamins, nutrients and fluids that the body needs to function straight to the bloodsteam. IV therapy can be used to treat dehydration, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Depending on the vitamins and minerals selected, the treatment can also provide a nutritional, energy, beauty, athletic or immunity boost for the general population.
Do your research to choose a safe and refutable clinic, and ask your doctor for recommendations and look for a clinic that takes a thorough medical evaluation before administering treatment. Certain people should avoid IV therapy, such as those with congestive heart failure, those on certain medications, those who suffer from specific allergies or elite or pro athletes subject to drug testing by an anti-doping agency.
TENS Units4 of 8
A TENS Unit (or Trans-cutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Unit) is a small, handheld machine with electrodes that uses a low electric current to mimic the nervous system and reduce muscle pain. Sold over the counter, TENS units may provide short-term pain relief by stimulating nerve sensations and mild muscle contractions, which can temporarily "drown out" or disrupt the sensation of pain. The electrical stimulation is also thought to improve local circulation, help reduce muscle spasms and help your body produce higher levels of its own natural painkillers (endorphins).
The device does have some skeptics who argue that the benefits derived are from nothing more than the placebo effect, but there is also existing research that supports the positive effects of the unit. Though there are a few safety precautions (TENS units are not recommended for those with pacemakers or women who are pregnant), the non-invasive device is relatively affordable, easy to use and may provide non-pharmaceutical pain relief for sore muscles.
Cryotherapy5 of 8
If you've been on the lookout for a recovery practice that takes an ice bath to the next level, look no further than full-body cryotherapy. Also known as cold therapy, cryotherapy is a treatment that utilizes extremely cold temperatures to reduce inflammation and soreness in the body. This involves subjecting your entire body to negative 120 degree Celcius liquid nitrogen for several minutes in a stand-up tank that reaches to the neck (gloves and socks are worn).
Exposure to such extreme cold rapidly lowers body temperature, which according to proponents of the therapy can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation and even speed up your metabolism. Additional benefits for athletes include faster recovery time, reduced muscle soreness, increased energy levels and improved sleep quality.
Check with your doctor before you try a cryotherapy tank as the therapy isn't recommended for everyone. Certain populations, such as those with diabetes or with conditions that affect the nerves, should avoid the practice.
Postural Restoration6 of 8
While it may sound similar to a chiropractic adjustment, postural restoration is actually a type of physical therapy that focuses on postural adaptations, asymmetrical patterns and the influence of muscle chains within the body. The human body is not symmetrical, and as we grow we develop slight muscle imbalances as our body adapts to compensate for our asymmetrical structure. As we gradually and subconsciously favor one side of the body, we form muscular patterns that reinforce the dominant side. Postural restoration seeks to improve our function by finding dominant or overused muscles that need to be turned down while activating underused muscles.
The treatment can be used by those who suffer from compressed nerves, abnormal torque or muscle tension or even people who seem to be continually injured on one side of the body. Specific postural exercises and techniques that target both muscle activation and breathing can help align the body in a more favorable way to reduce pain while improving performance and endurance.
Recovery Boots7 of 8
You may have seen elite athletes lounging in these puffy pants and wonderd what benefit this bizarre-looking legwear could possibly provide. These full-leg electric trousers provide intermittent pneumatic compression, using air to create compression in various chambers of the pants. The series of compressive pulses mimics the muscle pump of the legs, helping the lymphatic and cardiovascular systems accelerate the recovery of the legs by speeding the process of removing metabolic waste.
While studies have confirmed the benefits of these "pants," the verdict is still out on whether they provide superior results to a traditional massage or a proper foam rolling session. But there's something to be said for being able to slide the pants on and chill. And if you have the money to spend, it may be worth it to enjoy the benefits of an active recovery while simply lying on the couch.