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Advice to improve your movement, fitness, and overall health from the world's #1 in orthopedics.

4 Fitness and Wellness Gifts for Workout Enthusiasts

If you’ve got exercise-loving family and friends, we’ve got a list of the perfect presents for them. Because what better gift can you give than one that supports their health?

Advice to improve your movement, fitness, and overall health from the world's #1 in orthopedics.

Massage Guns

Few things in life feel better than a deep-tissue massage, and now you can give a gift that provides that luxury 24/7. A percussion massager (commonly referred to as a massage gun) delivers pulsing, rapid bursts of pressure deep into the muscle fibers to loosen and relax the tissue, says Ioona Félix, PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CTPS, site manager, HSS Sports Medicine Institute West Side. 

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These powerful hand-held machines can release tight and tense myofascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and bones. “By stimulating sensory cells on the skin, the device interrupts the contraction of nearby muscles and, thus, relaxes them,” says Felix. Stimulating the cells can also override the sensation of pain—sort of like when you rub your toe after smacking it into a table leg. When a muscle becomes tight and sore, blood flow to the area slows. A massage device can increase that oxygen-rich blood flow, helping the muscle to heal.

Posture Correctors

Anyone who spend hours hunched over their computer will appreciate a posture corrector, which can help reverse the damages of daily drooping. 

These devices come in a variety of different forms. Some look like a harness, fitting over your shoulders or across your lower back. Others are shirts with special panels designed to help you to remember to activate certain muscle groups. Still others come with pads that stick on your back and use vibrations or other cues (like a phone alarm) to remind you to sit up straight. Some even combine these methods.
What all posture correctors have in common is that they’re designed to address muscle imbalances that appear when we spend long periods of time in unhealthy, fixed positions. “While the muscles in the front of the chest (pectorals) have a tendency to become tight, the muscles in the upper back, including the middle trapezius and rhomboids, are likely to become overstretched,” says HSS physical therapist Christina Rodriguez PT, DPT, OCS, cert. MDT. Correctors help activate the muscles that haven’t been worked enough and give them a guide for where they need to be by a process called proprioception, where the body gets sensory feedback in order to feel where it’s supposed to stay in space.

Correctors allow people to build on their proprioceptive senses, providing them with a keener awareness of what good posture feels like and what they need to do to achieve it. “If they start to slouch, the posture corrector will let them know they’re in the wrong position so they can pull their shoulders back or tuck in their lower back,” says Rodriguez. Ideally, eventually this correction will become second nature.

Fitness Rings

Seems like everybody is hopping on the smartwatch bandwagon, but not everyone wants that conspicuous, clunky item on their wrist. Nor does everyone want to be on call 24/7, with the beeping and buzzing of text and call notifications. They do, however, still want to track their health data. For those in your life who fit that bill, a fitness ring is a great gift option. 

Most rings are more subtle and lighter than a smartwatch, and don’t include notifications for texts, calls, and other apps. So work (or a chatty group) will never interrupt family dinner. But the rings’ built-in sensors do measure things like steps, calories burned, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, temperature changes during sleep, and each sleep stage’s duration and report them through their paired smartphone app. This allows the wearer to tune in to when the body needs some more sleep, know when it’s time to push it hard in a workout (and when it’s not), or even get a hint that a cold or flu might be coming on. 

Pilates Rings

While everyone would love to give their Pilates-loving friends their own personal home Reformer, that’s not possible for most mere-mortal budgets. A Pilates ring, on the other hand, is not just a perfect gift; it’s also perfectly affordable. 

If you’re not familiar with the Pilates method, it’s a full-body workout that stabilizes, strengthens and stretches the core as well as everything around it, using specific movement patterns and controlled breathing. Pilates also facilitates a healthy connection among the belly, back, pelvic floor and diaphragm. 

Unlike the fitness rings described above, a Pilates ring (also known as a magic circle, fitness circle or exercise ring) isn’t worn on the finger. It looks a little like a small hula hoop, but instead of rocking it around the hips, it’s used to add resistance to a regular Pilates routine. 

The ring can be used for an isometric hold while doing unilateral dead bugs, underneath the chest during push-ups or between the thighs for a bridge pose. This ramps up any Pilates workout, helping to build more muscle, making the heart work even harder and engaging the core muscles even deeper.

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