You can’t always get to the gym. TRUTH.
You can’t always get to the massage therapist or chiropractor. TRUTH.
You can’t always get out for a run. TRUTH.
So keep these 5 tools on hand to take care of yourself when you just can’t even.
#1 — Self Myofascial Release Tools
The degree to which I have become known as a foam roller aficionado within my league is kind of hilarious. Everyday at practice someone makes some remark in my hearing about how they’re going to foam roll tonight (to which I always reply, totally straight-faced and monotone, “You should”). There’s even a picture of me on the ground at a bout that someone captioned with, “I’m just going to go get my foam roller.”
I do it because it works. For me. And science is slowly catching up with the anecdotal evidence. There’s research to suggest that self myofascial release and foam rolling can increase range of motion over the long term if used consistently. It’s also been shown to decrease perceived soreness and therefore decrease recovery time.
It’s a bit like being able to have a sports massage whenever you want one. Which, seriously, who doesn’t want that?
For extra bonus SMR points: Check out Voodoo Floss. But make sure you fully understand how to use it. And God Bless You, my brave soul.
#2 — A Jump Rope
We all know jump roping can be a beast form of cardiovascular work. It works great with HIIT and can help increase your agility by improving your foot speed (coupled with strength training, of course). But jump ropes are also a full body exercise — you have to use those arms to swing that rope — and can be made into an impromptu agility ladder.
You can do agility line or scissor hops over a straight jump rope lying on the ground. You can fold it to produce an “X” and do cross jumps or circle jumps. You can fold it into an “L” and do sprint acceleration and deceleration work. And you can swing it around your head like a lasso. You know, just for fun.
#3 — Resistance Band(s)
I’m talking about the tubing style ones with the handles. These are a great substitute when you can’t get to dumbbells or barbells. Even when you can, resistance bands offer an increasing resistance rather than a steady resistance as a way to change up your workout. (Meaning that as I pull on the band, the amount of resistance it offers me increases. Whereas if I’m using a 10lb dumbbell, the resistance is always going to be 10lbs. Thanks gravity!)
Resistance bands can also be used to improve your form when you use them for prehab exercises. For example, I’ve been using a resistance band for about 2 months to do some shoulder prehab exercises (face pulls, band pull aparts) and, with the lighter resistance and stability the band offers, the exercises are much easier than they would be with dumbbells and my form is much better — the whole point of prehab exercises anyway.
These, too, can be used as an impromptu agility ladder and (my favorite part) if you have a door attachment for it, you can do some crazy fun plyometrics too. But be careful, I currently have a hole in the wall to the left of the door frame because I got a little overzealous.
#4 — Hip Circle
This probably seems like a really specific recommendation. Because it is. You can get away with cheaper latex bands, but the Hip Circle is the real deal. It offers incredible resistance and will last much longer than a cheaper latex band. (Which, by the way, a teething toddler can snap in half with one bite.)
The Hip Circle should really be number one on this list because it can help address the two biggest problems I see in skaters:
- Their knees collapse inward when they squat (either in derby form, in general, or both).
- They have weak glutes.
Using the Hip Circle or other latex bands during glute exercises (monster walks, clamshells, etc.) can help activate and engage your muscles. Wearing the Hip Circle around your legs (slightly above or below the knee) when you squat can teach your body to keep your knees out.
I use my foam roller everyday, but I use my Hip Circle everyday too.
#5 — Kettlebell
You didn’t think I’d let you get away with not having ANY heavy objects in the house, did you? That’s just not my style.
Kettlebells are a little bit more versatile than dumbbells because of the off-center load. That means you can get a good bit of work into your small stabilizer muscles with them. Kettlebell swings are excellent cardio and kettlebell work can lend itself to a lot of unilateral movements (think: one-sided) so you only really need to buy one. Good if you’re on a budget!
I have a 20lb kettlebell in my house. It’s a little light for some things and a little heavy for others. If you’re not sure what weight to get, head to the store and try them out. You’ll find that it’s a Goldilocks moment — this one’s too small, this one’s too big, this one’s just right.
Then take it home, bust out some KB swings, turkish get-ups, and bent over 1-armed rows. Delight in your badassery. Rinse. Repeat.
YOGA OR EXERCISE MAT — I prefer the yoga mat because it’s longer and I can fold it over on itself if I need it to be squishier for some reason or another. It drives me crazy when my feet slide around during planks and pushups, so I need the stickiness.
PULL UP BAR — Even if you can’t do one single chin-up or pull-up (yet), it’s good to have around. You can loop your resistance band over it to do overhead work. And some of them even act as pushup bars when you put them on the ground (important if you have wrist issues). Plus, sometimes you just want to hang around. Literally.
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Disclaimer: Assume that any and all of the products above are paying me in gold bullion and unicorn tears for their product endorsement. Kickbacks are classy, right? But also, I just really like them all.