If you’ve made fitness a regular part of your lifestyle, you’ve probably at least begun to notice the wear and tear it can have on your body. Tiny aches, nagging soreness, and even small injuries can make staying active a pain in the neck — figuratively and literally. While you, no doubt, take steps on your own to heal from fitness — like salt baths and foam rolling — there are a few specialists you might want to consider visiting to help recover from exercise even more thoroughly. These experts can provide a service you can’t achieve on your own.
Remember, you need to recover as hard as you train, if not harder.
4 People Who Will Help You Recover From Exercise Better
1. Massage Therapists
Who doesn’t love a good massage? The benefits of massage are too many to count. We’re talking about something more specific, though. When you visit a massage therapist, the goal isn’t so much for it to feel relaxing — although it might — as it is to really dig into the muscles that may be tight or knotted up.
For instance, if persistent lower back pain has been troubling you, a massage therapist might address your glutes, hip flexors, adductors, or hamstrings. Tightness in these muscles could result in back pain. If the tightness is too severe, no amount of foam rolling will remedy it. You need a professional.
Within the umbrella term “massage therapy,” there are more specific kinds, including Swedish massage, deep massage, sports massage, and trigger point massage. According to the Mayo Clinic, it could help relieve not only sports injuries, joint pain, myofascial pain syndrome, and soft tissue strains or injuries, but also anxiety, stress-related insomnia, and digestive problems, too.
2. Physical Therapists
There is some overlap between the services a massage therapist and a physical therapist will provide, which we’ll come back to in a moment. A PT can be of immense help on your fitness journey. We all have weaknesses and imbalances we don’t even know of because our knowledge of the human anatomy is limited. A PT can help pinpoint the source of your pain and show you ways to use exercise to fix it.
For instance, let’s return to our lower back pain. A PT might find the source of your pain is weak glutes. Thus, they’ll give you specific exercises to target and strengthen the glutes, and ultimately relieve your back pain.
In addition to teaching you ways to become stronger, a PT can also help you improve mobility and flexibility, recover from injury, restore the function of muscles, and prevent injury from happening in the future. They don’t use only exercise as their method of healing. Some PTs offer other services, like dry needling.
As for the overlap, you might find that both PTs and massage therapists provide some of the same services — like cupping, for instance. Each professional’s training and experience will be different.
Acupuncture: the art of becoming a pin cushion. Acupuncture originated in China and is now a popular form of alternative medicine in the United States. In acupuncture, a trained professional will stimulate specific points on your body by inserting very fine needles, with the goal of helping alleviate pain or another health problem.
While some people scoff at the whole idea of alternative medicine, sure enough, research published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found acupuncture can help battle pain.
Don’t let the idea of needles scare you away. Commonly, you don’t even feel them; and if you do feel a little pain, that typically means the acupuncturist has found a spot that needs to be worked on. The pain is often very manageable, and if it isn’t, simply ask the acupuncturist to remove that needle.
A chiropractor uses hands-on treatment to manipulate the spine and other body parts, in an effort to align your musculoskeletal structure. This field of medicine believes proper alignment can help you heal from injury and soreness and function better overall.
If you’re very physically active, especially if you lift weights, you might be putting a lot of strain on your body, which is relatively normal. You get stronger by putting your muscles under stress. However, in the process, you might see flexibility suffer, the risk of injury increase, and that strain start to really inhibit you. This is where a chiropractor comes in.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how to recover from exercise. While physical therapy might bring total pain relief to an athlete who has been suffering for months, it might be a massage therapist who helps a different athlete. See what works best for you, and remember this one important tip: don’t wait for the pain to start before you learn the right way to recover from exercise. Start now.