Any fitness pro will tell you that rest days are a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. Taking days off between workouts gives tired muscles time to recuperate—which helps improve performance in the long run. While gentle yoga and foam rolling have their roles to play, rest days can get a boost from high-tech approaches to recovery. These five inventive treatments can help athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike relax and recover.
Sensory deprivation tanks
How does NBA star Stephen Curry relax? By floating in a dark, quiet bath of highly buoyant, body-temperature salt water. Quarterback Tom Brady is also a fan; he’s rumoured to have a personal float tank at home. These top athletes may be onto something.
Floatation therapy—also known as sensory deprivation therapy or restricted environmental stimulation therapy—soothes anxiety, eases muscle pain, and promotes a state of deep relaxation. These benefits mean shorter recovery times and stronger immune systems. While climbing into an enclosed tank of water may spark concerns for the claustrophobic, fans of floating say any discomfort quickly dissipates as you enter a state of deep calm and relaxation. Whether you’re a long distance runner, CrossFit junkie, or even an MMA fighter—every type of athlete can benefit from incorporating floats into their recovery routine.
Standing in a chamber as frigid nitrogen vapour envelops your body sounds far from relaxing. But many professional athletes swear by the technology’s power to heal injuries and relieve sore, tired muscles. Cryotherapy, or cold therapy, works by exposing part of or the entire body to extremely cold temperatures. In its high-tech form, cryotherapy uses an enclosed, neck-high chamber that exposes users to vapour as cold as negative 160˚C for two to three minutes. Because the air is dry, the temperature is tolerable and even relaxing. There are simpler ways of administering cryotherapy, too, such as ice baths and ice massage.
Intravenous vitamin drips
Ever considered incorporating intravenous vitamin therapy, or IVT, into your fitness regimen? These IV drips provide users with a cocktail of vitamins and minerals, customized according to individual needs, and are said to deliver efficient and effective results. What are those results? They vary depending on the vitamin blend, but proponents say IV vitamin therapy helps relieve muscle spasms, stress, anxiety, viral illnesses, and headaches, to name a few. While being pricked with a needle may not be how some gym junkies envision their rest days, the treatments are painless and usually only last 30 minutes.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
If you’re going to lounge on your rest days, why not do it in a long pressurized tube that emits 100 percent oxygen? Given that the air we breathe is typically comprised of only 21 percent oxygen, the concentrated hit of oxygen you receive from hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) increases the oxygen levels of your blood plasma and hemoglobin, which can accelerate the healing of wounds. Devotees say the treatments leave them feeling refreshed and relaxed, while NFL stars swear by sleeping in HBOT chambers to help their bodies recover. Sessions can range from 30 minutes to two hours, which users can spend watching movies or listening to music—many chambers are equipped with entertainment systems.
What do Lebron James, Derek Jeter, and the Seattle Seahawks have in common (you know, besides superhuman athletic abilities and mind-boggling salaries)? All of them credit meditation for keeping their minds healthy. Not only does meditation improve focus and relieve any pre-performance jitters, it also slows the heart rate and relaxes the body—which can help speed up muscle recovery. Just getting into the meditation game? Try these simple techniques: When you’re looking to relax, try mentally scanning the body, taking stock of how each part feels independently of the rest (start at your toes and work your way up). When it’s time to get your game face on, have a meditative mantra to repeat to yourself to keep calm and focused.
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