The best gear on the planet won't help you if you're too sore to get out of bed or your legs cramp up after two miles on the trail. At Eastern Mountain Sports, we've seen how recent advances in sports medicine can offer better performance in the backcountry. If you want to warm up more quickly, hike/run/bike/ski longer, and recover faster, here are a few new technologies and tools to think about.
You've seen these on professional football players for several years and more recently, on the shooting arms of some pro basketball players. Compression sleeves promote increased blood flow to your muscles. More blood flow means more oxygen, which means less pain during physical activity and less swelling after. Wearing a product like the Zensah compression leg sleeve can help you enjoy your favorite outdoor sport longer and feel better the next day.
Stretching before any physical activity is always a good idea, but what if you could limber up in less time and with less effort? That's the beauty of flexibility tools like The Stick. The rigid spindles on The Stick let you target-stretch your muscles with minimal effort, as well as flush your muscles after a workout. This expedites the discharge of lactic acid, the by-product of physical activity and primary cause of muscle cramps. The less effort you expend getting ready, the more energy you'll have on the trail.
If you've experienced a professional massage, you understand how muscle manipulations can relieve pain and decrease your recovery time. Since you can't take your massage therapist with you on a weekend hike, recovery tools such as The Grid foam roller are a terrific supplement between massage sessions. The Grid is specifically designed to safely and effectively massage your lats, quads, and lower back, and there are plenty of other tools available for other muscle groups that can help you feel better, faster.
It's easy to take your muscles for granted, but the more active you are and the older you get, the more important muscle care and maintenance becomes. Whether you acquire one of the tools we've described or stick to your old high school stretching routine, your muscles will be better conditioned to handle the rigors of the trail---and so will you.