Recovery Discovery
Oxygen|Summer 2021
The fitness space is flooded with products, potions and protocols promising to optimize your recovery from training. See what science has to say about some of the most popular applications.
By Jenessa Connor

If your idea of recovery consists of a few halfhearted stretches and a hot shower, it’s time to level up. Here are 10 of-the-moment practices to help revamp your recovery routine and speed along your progress.

RED LIGHT THERAPY (aka photobiomodulation)

The theory behind this practice is that low-level wavelengths of red light penetrate the skin and supercharge the mitochondria, which, according to a study published in Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, enables them to produce more energy. A review of research published in AIMS Biophysics also reported that regular use of RLT can help reduce inflammation, speed muscle recovery, promote quality sleep and even clear up skin issues such as acne, rosacea and wrinkles — all from passively standing in front of a light. However, other experts believe that the benefits of RLT are exaggerated, and a systematic review of 11 studies concluded that while at-home devices are likely safe, additional research is needed to evaluate their true efficacy and worth.

The take-away: Red light therapy probably won’t hurt you, and you may even see some benefits. But a personal-use unit can be pricy, so consider your budget before Amazoning it.

BUYER’S CHOICE

Joovv Go 2.0

$590, joovv.com

ELECTRICAL MUSCLE STIMULATION

This protocol uses wired electrode patches that deliver to electrical impulses to a targeted area or muscle, causing the muscle(s) to contract. If temporary pain relief is your goal, EMS could be the way to go. “The goal is to stimulate the spinal cord in such a way that it blocks or inhibits … pain,” says Jordan Duncan, DC, owner of Silverdale Sport & Spine in Silverdale, Washington. Essentially, these electrical impulses trick your brain into focusing on a sensation other than discomfort. Your body can’t differentiate between a voluntary muscle contraction and an electrically stimulated one; it just recognizes it as a stimulus and acts accordingly.

The rapid muscle contractions caused by EMS have been shown to help reduce swelling and inflammation by creating a pumping action that pushes fluid out of the muscles, and a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that the practice helped athletes gain a performance edge. Other studies report that EMS trains your muscles to fire more fibers at a given time, which may help increase force production and strength.

EMS isn’t meant to be a long-term solution for pain, and it won’t alter your tissues to heal an injury, but if you’re looking to reduce inflammation and potentially boost strength, give it a whirl.

BUYER’S CHOICE

Marc Pro Device

$700, marcpro.com

CBD

CBD is in everything these days — lotions, rubs, beer and even potato chips — and this non-psychotropic cousin of THC has become a bit of a punchline. But April Hatch, RN, co-founder of Cannabis Care Team, an organization that offers support and education on the use of medicinal cannabis, has seen firsthand how CBD can support recovery and overall wellness. “CBD [can be used] as a supplement for the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for managing appetite, mood, sleep and more,” Hatch says. CBD may reduce postworkout inflammation and soreness, she adds

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