Athletes Do What?! Recovery Rituals the Fit Swear By

When the big purple spots on Michael Phelps’ back splashed across television screens during the Olympics in Rio, a frenzy broke out. What was it? Did it hurt? Was it a health fad?

The questions were quickly answered in the media: Those huge circles were caused by something called cupping, which has been used for centuries as a traditional form of care. Heated cups are placed on the body, which increases blood flow to that area and helps with muscle and pain relief. It’s been done for thousands of years in Asia and in recent years athletes have begun using the method before and after workouts.

Cupping therapy isn’t the only out-of-the-ordinary ritual athletes swear by. Whether you’re a runner, swimmer or casual fitness class-goer, these therapies used by some of the pros could help you up your fitness game:

  • Ice baths: Ice baths—which are exactly what they sound like—are a way to reduce soreness after a tough workout. The freezing water constricts blood vessels, which reduces swelling. While NFL locker rooms have specifically designed baths for this, you can just add ice cubes to cold water in your own tub. Just don’t soak for too long. Experts warn that just six to eight minutes is sufficient for ice baths to avoid overexposure.
  • Acupuncture: Another age-old practice, acupuncture works to balance the “yin and yang” of muscle pain. Some athletes swear by its post-workout recovery and mood-boosting powers. In fact, some fans of this practice have noticed they feel less anxiety.
  • Drinking chocolate milk and pickle juice: What you put in your body after a workout is incredibly important, and some athletes put their faith in weird beverages. One popular choice is chocolate milk. It contains sugars, sodium and potassium—three nutrients that are needed after a hard workout. Pickle juice is another go-to. It’s also packed with sodium and electrolytes, which athletes need. Fans of the briny beverage claim it prevents muscle cramping and stops them from feeling totally drained post-workout.

Have you ever tried one of these workout recovery methods? Share your experience in the comments!

Photo Credit: RGanoza

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