AMR GEARS UP: RECOVERY GEAR
By Sarah Bowen Shea
In our dreams, we can run as far as we want, as often as we want with no niggles, aches, or strains. In reality, however, we need to be prudent about how many miles we put in a week—and we need to use products that help our muscles, tendons, and ligaments recover from one sweat-session and get ready for the next one.
Recovery comes in many forms, including rehydrating, refueling, massaging, compressing, and more. We rounded up a mix of 11 items, and had team members and ambassadors put the products through their paces so the runners themselves could nail their own paces! Find some recovery tools that are right for you.
CEP Women’s Mid Cut Compression Socks
These high-quality socks are by one of the long-time leaders in the compression sock world. Research on compression socks shows they can speed recovery by enhancing blood flow out of the lower extremities. While these sassy lower-cut ones don’t help move blood halfway up your legs like knee-high socks, they at least keep it moving effectively up from your feet.
Pros: “The socks felt so good to wear after my run that I kept them on for a tough bootcamp class. They gave my ankles good support.” Our tester also loved “the cushioned heel” and felt the socks provided “the right amount of compression.” They’re less expensive than taller versions. And looks don’t lie: This is the sock height all the cool-kid runners wear!
Cons: Don’t provide full calf compression. (Obviously!)
Take it from a mother runner: “The mid compression height will be great to wear in the summer or on trail runs when I need a shorter length.”
Roll Recovery R1
This moderately priced percussion massager is compact and, well, cute! “When I opened the box, it was the cutest little handheld device.” With an aircraft-grade aluminum exterior, is available in four colors, has four speed settings, and comes with four attachment heads. Its lithium ion battery gets its 40-watt juice from an included USB-C charger.
Pros: “This product was very easy to use: With a push of a button I could turn it on and get my muscles some relief.” It’s compact and very quiet. The battery boast 7+ hours of battery life. Our tester appreciated the R1 “comes with a bag that you can easily pack it for away races.”
Cons: One tester wasn’t sure which head adapter to use when and where. “I wish they included a video link in the product materials to explain what each head does and how to best use them.”
Take it from a mother runner: “I truly loved this product and will be shouting on the rooftops to my best running friends, ‘You need this!’”
Mendi Full Spectrum CBD Salve Stick
If you want effective, fast pain relief for tendonitis, bruising, arthritis, and other pain-causing conditions, rub on this CBD salve stick. CBD, shorthand for “cannabidiol,” is one of the naturally occurring essential oils extracted from hemp plants; it works to reduce pain without making you “high.” This easy-to-use stick can be used numerous times a day: Our tester used it on her back pre-run, then before bedtime on any aching spots.
Pros: “It’s as easy to apply as a stick deodorant or BodyGlide!” While this stick contains eucalyptus, chamomile, and menthol—as well as a host of other goodness—”it doesn’t have a strong smell, which I appreciate.” We are fans of Mendi, in part, because the company is based in Portland (like AMR!) and was founded by a woman who used to be a professional soccer player.
Cons: If you’re in need of deep muscle pain relief, you need to look elsewhere (like Mendi’s massage oil).
Take it from a mother runner: “This is the only topical that’s provided long-term relief for my tendonitis.”
Price: $55 (use code STICK20 for 20% off)
Fairlife Core Power
Core Power is made from ultra-filtered, lactose-free milk and contains high-quality protein, nine essential amino acids, vitamin D, calcium (obviously!), and electrolytes. Available with 26 or 42 grams of protein, and in three flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry-banana.
Pros: Offers grab-and-go convenience, especially since it’s shelf-stable, meaning it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. (SBS often drinks unchilled Core Power for a boost between pickleball games, while Dimity stores hers in a little cooler if she drinks it away from home after a ride or swim.) “It doesn’t taste like a protein shake—which is good, because I hate how protein shakes taste!” Another tester praised Core Power’s versatility: “It’s tasty enough to drink on its own, or make a smoothie with.”
Cons: Some folks think the 42-gram version tastes “a little chalky.”
Take it from a mother runner: “I felt a quick bounce back after drinking one of these shakes.”
Price: $33.58 for 12 14-oz bottles
This percussive massager has many enviable features, including its uniquely angled handle that allows you to more easily target otherwise hard-to-reach spots. It offers five speeds and four interchangeable head attachments. One tester used the B37 to target muscle soreness after a hard run and pre-run. “I went for an easy run after using it, and I felt great! It is now my go-to tool pre-run to prepare my legs for hitting the road.”
Pros: A tester really appreciated the B37 comes with a user’s manual that explains which muscle groups would benefit from the different attachments. “Compared to other massage guns I’ve tried, this one is really quiet, and the ergonomic design made it more comfortable to hold onto.” Thanks to the included, padded case, “it was easy to pack into my carry-on bag when I flew to a race.”
Cons: Its hefty price tag.
Take it from a mother runner: “I really like the different attachments available for different body parts and for the many levels of percussion.”
Nuun makes electrolyte-rich tablets you drop into a bottle of water to let fizz and dissolve. Each tasty variety of Nuun contains differing amounts of electrolytes: Nuun Sport contains more potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium to replace what you sweat out during your workout (or race!). On Nuun’s own Electrolyte Level from 1-3, Nuun Sport ranks right in the middle at a 2. Replacing those precious electrolytes allows you to push harder during exertion—and recover more quickly.
Pros: Nuun Sport is convenient (10 tablets—each the circumference of a quarter yet about twice as thick—come in a handy plastic tube), and a 15-calorie tablet dissolves in roughly the amount of time it takes to put on your running socks and shoes. “I love that I can carry Nuun with me anywhere and pop it into water whenever I need a little more of a hydration boost,” wrote a tester, who added how much she loves the wide variety of flavors, with Cherry Limeade and Tropical her current fav flavs. “I consider Nuun Sport my BRF (Best Running Friend).”
Cons: What can we say: We are totally Team Nuun and can’t think of a single negative!
Take it from a mother runner: “I use Nuun for pre-hab, during workouts, for post-workout hydration, and to stay hydrated at work as a flight attendant.”
GO Kinesiology + Compression Knee Sleeve
This innovative 2-in-1 knee sleeve combines the power of kinesiology tape with a compression sleeve to accelerate recovery and reduce pain, swelling, and soreness. On the inside, strategically placed kinesiology strips “open” space under the skin to improve blood flow. Like all GO Sleeves products, this brace is reusable, washable, and latex-free—and comes with a 45-day, money-back guarantee.
Pros: No need to have to figure out how to replicate a complex taping pattern: Pull this sleeve on, and it’s good to go. (Just like you’ll be!) Our tester (yes, SBS) reports, it’s “more flexible and lighter than a brace, yet far more supportive and corrective than a standard compression sleeve.” Works on either knee, and it even comes in several color combos.
Cons: Still trying to find any knocks against this sleeve.
Take it from a mother runner: “It’s all-day comfortable, and I often wore it running and playing pickleball.”
Price: $89.95 (use code AMR25 to save $25)
Roll Recovery R4
This thoughtfully designed foam roller is a big step up from the smooth foam “tubes” you might find at your local gym: Roll Recovery got feedback from both elite athletes and physical therapists when developing it. The most noticeable feature is the center groove for both aligning your spine and neck as well as helping loosen your tight IT band and calves. It also has unique, diamond-patterned grooves.
Pros: Comes with “clearly illustrated” instructions detailing which muscles to roll on which sections of the roller. The R4’s diameter/height and surface contours made it easy for one tester, training for her 56th (!) marathon, to roll targeted muscle groups. “I could definitely feel my muscles ‘thanking’ me.” Available in three chic colors that seem designed to complement any West Elm decor!
Cons: Alas, like all other recovery tools, this roller only works if you use it.
Take it from a mother runner: “The R4 motivated me to roll at various times of the day—and I really appreciated it after my last pre-marathon long run.”
Topo Athletic Revive
Follow the lead of Team AMR, and start living in this slipper-like recovery shoe all day, every day! Made by our favorite running shoe brand, the Revive is designed to, well, revive your feet after a run or a workout thanks to a uniquely textured insole that provides a gentle massageto the sole of your foot.
Pros: “I’ve been looking for a warm, durable pair of slippers for a long time: These are perfect!” The Revive’s toothy Vibram® outsole provides traction and durability, which is key because our testers quickly started wearing them to walk the dog, get the mail, and more. “I wear these shoes as much as I possibly can, and they are especially lovely post-run.” They run very true to size. “Spendy, but worth every penny given that I live in them!”
Cons: The recycled polyester fleece upper is cozy and warm…but it attracts all the dog hair and lint.
Take it from a mother runner: “My arches love the textured support, while my toes appreciate being able to spread in the wide toe box.”
Heali Kinesiology Tape
Regular kinesiology tape works in several ways: It stabilizes an injured area while also gently lifting the skin to create a space for improved blood and lymphatic flow. Heali Tape takes kinesiology tape a step further with an infusion of menthol and magnesium. The menthol helps block pain, while the magnesium speeds recovery. It stays sticky and in place for several days, and getting it wet re-activates the infused ingredients. Fun bonus? It comes in a variety of patterns, including camo and zebra stripes.
Pros: The infused ingredients live up to the claims: One tester felt immediate relief from an acute flair-up of back pain (yes, SBS). The long-lasting power of the magnesium made one runner’s strained calf feel looser. The latex-free, hypoallergenic tape “is fun to accessorize with my race-day outfit!”
Cons: Heali claims the tape stays in place four to seven days, yet our testers found it lasted about three days.
Take it from a mother runner: “This tape was a game changer for me when I was suffering from severe back pain. I’m so grateful to have found it!”
Price: $20 (use code RUN to save 30%)
Gua Sha Muscle Scraper
This “muscle-scraping” tool is not for the faint of heart: Used correctly, it produces a deep, intense sensation that borders on painful. Athletic trainers and physical therapists use a tool like this to perform soft-tissue work called Graston Technique. We recommend having a professional Graston session or two before going DIY at home!
Pros: Compact and easy to travel with. Our tester always takes this stainless-steel tool to multi-day races to minimize soreness; she finds it’s especially helpful in calming shin irritation.
Cons: Can be tricky to use effectively. Need to be used with some sort of lubricant.
Take it from a mother runner: “This offers a quick reward for a bit of rubbing! Depending on your tolerance, you can be gentle or a little more aggressive.”
Did we miss your favorite recovery gear item?
Let us know in the comments below!