Another Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone and what was once a beautifully roasted turkey has become the base for this week’s sandwiches. And yes, Christmas shopping season has officially begun.
If you’re anything like me, the availability of ridiculous amounts of sugary treats has been the reason to let your belt out a couple more notches and you feel the need to burn off more than a few extra calories and redouble your focus on your physical health and well-being. With that in mind I would like to take this opportunity to offer my top health and fitness related gifts. These are the items that I consistently recommend to my clients year round and that I personally cannot do without. So to help you avoid the risk of pepper spray to the face over a $2 waffle iron, here are my top gift picks for health and fitness products for that special someone, or maybe even yourself.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate for most of these products. This means that if you purchase one after clicking one of these links, I will get a small commission. That said, the only reason I am an affiliate for these products is because I believe in them 100%.
1. Foam Roller
I was introduced to foam roller therapy in 2003 and was an instant convert. Over the past eight years, the foam roller has helped me and my clients treat and prevent chronic pain, injury, and surgery. Including foam roller therapy into your daily or weekly health and wellness lifestyle will reduce the amount of chronic pain and injury in your life. This will have enormous effects on your long term well-being and health care costs. A good foam roller is the best investment you can make for your long term fitness, health, and wellness.
The Grid by Trigger Point Therapy
The Grid is currently my favorite foam roller. It is much more firm than other foam rollers. It is great for travel as it fits inside most carry-on suit cases. The center is hollow and you can pack clothing or other items inside of it, making it a great space saver.
The Grid 2.0 is a new, longer version of the grid. The extra length is nice if you have the floor space to maneuver and it is useful for doing the corrective exercises I describe in the article, The Scapula: The Mast and Sails.
To learn more about foam roller therapy, benefits and use, check out Foam Roller Therapy For Beginners and How to Treat and Prevent Injury.
2. TRX Straps
I love my TRX straps. There is no other piece of equipment that has as much versatility. With a pair of straps you can work on full body flexibility and full body functional strength training.
They weigh about a pound and fit in a small bag – they are great for travel. They mount easily to a door, wall, ceiling, tree, or outdoor jungle gym. I have a few clients with very busy travel schedules. They struggle to get to a gym while on the road. With a set of straps they can workout in their hotel room and are less likely to miss important workout sessions.
Regardless of your current conditioning or ability, you can use the TRX. The workout is suspension training, which means your own body weight provides the resistance. The beauty about the TRX is that adjusting the level of resistance is simple: all you have to do is move your feet back or forward. You can make exercises super easy, super hard, or somewhere in between. Every exercise engages your core from your fingers to your toes in ways that are unmatched by traditional strength training equipment. The TRX is the number one piece of workout equipment that I recommend and I suggest it to every one of my clients.
(2.5) Rip Trainer
The Rip Trainer is a new piece of workout equipment from the TRX company. It has quickly become one of my favorites as well. The Rip Trainer is great for adding multi-plane rotation and anti-rotation training into your workout. If you are creating the perfect home workout studio, I would suggest taking a look at the Rip Trainer, right after you buy the TRX straps.
3. Barefoot/Minimalist Shoes
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I am a huge advocate of a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle. As a deep tissue massage therapist, I specialize in the treatment and prevention of chronic pain and injury. I find that most injuries stem, in large part, from postural dysfunction. The majority of postural dysfunction that I treat is rooted in the feet, and it began with the very first shoes you put on.
I made my transition into barefoot/minimalist footwear about four years ago when I came across the Vibram Five Finger shoes at Whole Earth Provision Company, a local outdoor living store in Austin, Texas. At the time there were only a handful of barefoot/minimalist shoes on the market. Today there are over 64 and growing. Here are my favorites:
Merrell Trail Glove
In the times that I actually wear shoes, these are currently my favorites. They are stylish, light, fit snugly, have a ton of toe room and a nice protective plate underneath the forefoot that protects my feet from the sharp Texas trail rocks.
Vibram Five Fingers
They may look a little funny, but they are great shoes. What I love most about these shoes is they are a great conversation starter. Over the years, I have helped convert dozens of people into a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle just by having these on my feet.
Soft Star Shoes makes some simple yet super comfortable shoes. I have a pair of the Ramblers, basically a moccasin. They are warm and dry in the winter, and cool and dry in the summer.
To read more about the benefits of a barefoot/minimalist lifestyle you can read Free Your Feet, Not Just Any Movement, You Need Functional Movement and Heel Strike Compared to Forefoot Strike Gait Pattern and How it Relates to Pain.
Jesse James Retherford is a licensed massage therapist, certified personal trainer and barefoot movement coach. He specializes in the treatment and prevention of chronic pain and injury.
Jesse writes a weekly blog with insights on the treatment and prevention of chronic pain and injury. lt is also a great way to stay up to date with his availability and the best way to have access to occasional specials, offers, and announcements. You can sign up here.