Your muscles might be trying to tell you something. Stiffness, strain, and tension are familiar issues for many of us this year, even if they're not the result of too many hours stuck in a coach-class airline seat. "Relief will come from both stretching and strengthening," says Kit Rich, a celebrity trainer and creator of fitness brand Kichgo. In recent months, Rich has seen the negative impacts of stress and a sedentary lifestyle on our bodies, including "tech neck, the forward-head posture many of us fall into when looking at screens." Her solutions include regular strength workouts, massages, and sustained pressure on stubborn muscle knots. Here, a range of inventive, packable new products to help.
After a successful 2018 Kickstarter campaign, Chirp continues to one-up the traditional foam roller when it comes to treating neck and back pain. The wheels range from six to 12 inches in diameter, but are just five inches wide, meaning they fit between your shoulder blades and hit the hard-to-reach muscles running along the spine. Plus, the wheels stack neatly inside each other for easy packing.
To buy: amazon.com, from $45
Theragun founder and chiropractor Jason Wersland dreamed up the idea of a "massage gun" that uses a motorized mallet to pound your muscles and fascia at high speed during his recovery from a motorcycle accident. Older, larger models often looked intimidating, but Theragun's latest release fits in one hand — yet still provides effective therapy. A new Therabody app guides users through treatment programs.
To buy: amazon.com, $195
Physical therapist Christine Koth created this funny-looking (but effective) device to target the iliacus, a small muscle that can lead to big problems. One of the strongest of the hip flexors, it's particularly prone to tightness — an issue exacerbated by long periods of sitting, whether on a road trip or in your home office. The muscle is almost impossible to reach on your own, as it runs along the interior of the pelvic bone. But the Hip Hook makes massaging the muscle easy, keeping your iliacus healthy and happy.
To buy: alethahealth.com, $129
A version of this story first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Take Wellness with You.
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