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Are you looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Sometimes the best gift you can give is the kind that comforts and heals. Consider muscle recovery tools and techniques for your loved ones’ sore, tired muscles. They’ll thank you for it!
Lindsey Elizondo, assistant athletic trainer and physical therapist for the Orlando Magic, let us in on some of the team’s favorite muscle recovery tools and techniques.
We also sat down with AdventHealth physical therapist, Leonard Gordon, who weighed in on muscle recovery options for everyone.
Muscle Recovery Tools
According to Lindsey, the Orlando Magic uses many different muscle recovery tools for different needs. Some of the options are foam rollers, massage guns, hot and cold packs, electronic muscle stimulators, compression boots, point release massage balls and traditional massage. Since every player has different preferences and needs, they offer many options to appeal to everyone.
Leonard explains how some of these different tools help his patients, too.
When would you use one tool over another?
Lindsey: That’s the preference of the athlete and what’s going on for them. If you want to kind of just roll out, get a little bit looser, feel better, that's self-massage. For that, you’ll start off on the foam roller because you can get the whole bulk of the muscle. You can move up and down, really pinpointing any specific area.
If you’ve ever had one of those trigger points you push on that feel achy and sore, that's when we'll get into using the trigger point balls. The massage gun is similar, but can cover more area. You can use them for your full body. For example, if your hamstrings or your quads are tight, you just kind of go up and down and get the vibrations to relax the muscle.
Leonard: I have a lot of patients who use foam rollers. Athletes use them in between competitions and keep a smaller one with them. There are collapsible ones available, which are really efficient because you can just put them in your backpack.
The biggest thing is you don't want to replace stretching with foam rolling; I think a lot of people think, “oh, it feels good,” but in order to see an actual change in your muscles, it takes about a 30-second hold of a stretch.
We don’t have massage guns here at the clinic, but I’ve used them and think they're great. I have one of my own. I think, much like the foam roll, it’s a great supplement, but not a replacement for stretching.
Lacrosse balls, or trigger point balls, are a little more aggressive. Most people don’t tolerate them well. They’re very beneficial for knotted-up muscles, and also the most affordable option along with the foam roller. Massage guns can get a bit expensive and probably aren’t the best for elderly patients.
When do you use hot and cold therapy?
Lindsey: We generally call it contrast therapy, where you might go into the cold for a couple of minutes, then into the hot for couple of minutes — back and forth. The way that compression clothing helps to pump fluid out, it’s the same concept with switching back and forth from hot to cold. We're constricting and dilating. It's essentially acting as a kind of pump to help get some fluid out.
Leonard: Typically, I tell patients as a rule of thumb — if you see swelling and it's an acute injury with redness and soreness, put ice on it. Putting heat on an injury can make it worse and exacerbate the swelling.
The contrast of hot and cold, to me, is one of the most beneficial techniques when it comes to recovery. You're just going from cold to heat, cold to heat, and it's closing the pores. You're opening up. Think of it like helping the body to pump. You’re flushing out the bad and bringing in the good.
What are the benefits of massage and how often should you get one?
Lindsey: I'm a big fan of massage; there are tons of benefits. It mobilizes some of the tissue, increases blood flow and flushes you out. Of course, there are many different types of massage for different purposes. A deep tissue massage is going to increase flexibility or mobility. Whatever your intention is with massage will help determine what kind you should have.
It's beneficial to get in as much massage as you can. When I'm talking about the general population, not everyone is going to be able to get a regular massage, whether it’s once a week or even once a month. Just start where you can with what you can, because it's better than nothing.
See how your body responds and adapts. It might not respond at all. You might do really well with the deep tissue massage, and I might do terrible with it. A lot of it is context, but it's really good to see where you can start, what feels good and what you can fit it in and when. Then we can dial up or down based on that. There's no golden rule for everybody on how much or what kind of massage. But I recommend massage to everyone.
Leonard: It's all about establishing a program for patients. Sometimes you need to see a massage therapist once a month, every other month or a couple of times within that month. I think it's a great supplement, as well. It's a more passive treatment, so I tell patients even though the massage therapy may help, we usually establish a pretty well-rounded routine for them with physical therapy and possibly massage therapy as a supplement. I think massage therapy definitely has benefits and should be used as needed.
Have a Magic Holiday Season
Thank you to the Orlando Magic’s Lindsey Elizondo and AdventHealth’s Leonard Gordon for their time and ideas for great, therapeutic holiday gifts this season. From foam rollers to massage gift cards, your loved ones will be in good hands with thoughtful gestures like these. We wish you and yours a magical season with family and friends!
Learn more about our partnership with the Orlando Magic here.