Recovery Shoes: The Best Way to Beat Fatigue

In recent years a huge range of ultra-endurance products have hit the shelves, from clothing and footwear to food. All are designed to help the body recover quickly and more efficiently after intense activity. In this article, we are going to talk about the advantages and technology of recovery footwear.

Recovery starts at your feet. Photo Salomon

You haven't even finished the race and you're already thinking about what you'll do after crossing the finish line. Hydrate, shower, put on some clean clothes and overall, comfortable footwear to give relief to the 40,000 steps marked by your tracking device.

You have been climbing a rock face for five hours. It’s getting hot and you have to take off your climbing shoes each time you reach the belay point. After belaying your partner, it's your turn to climb, and you grit your teeth as you tug your shoes back on. And there's still the rocky descent to go.

You get up early and reach the summit relatively soon after. Thanks to the fact that there was quite a lot of hard snow at the top you advanced quickly with the crampons, but on the way down the high boots and the big blocks of stone are killing your feet.

Any of these situations sound familiar? If you’re no newcomer to mountain sports, you have probably experienced something similar, such as a long canyoning descent, an intense day skiing or a long hike.

Foot Anatomy

The foot is a complex machine that took millions of years to evolve as our body structure adapted into the standing position. A multitude of bones, muscles and tendons provide the perfect combination of support, mobility and strength. In short, our feet are a marvel of anatomical engineering.

Boasting almost 400 sweat glands per square centimetre, the foot is the area of the human body with the thickest skin, as well as a layer of fatty tissue to promote cushioning and a multitude of nerve endings to master proprioception.

Swollen legs and feet, the price of exertion.

With so many components and the constant abuse we subject our feet to, it is not surprising that sooner or later problems will arise. Chafing or blisters are the common ailment for mountaineers, but arthrosis, plantar fasciitis, fungus or swollen feet may also sound familiar.

The Benefits and Comfort of Mountain Footwear

Choosing comfortable footwear for mountain activity is no easy task. The technical demands of the activity force us into extremely tight climbing shoes, bulky expedition boots, rigid ski boots or wet canyoning socks.

Exhaustion after activity and time to recover.

In addition to these circumstances, long days of activity where our feet are punished for hours on end put their good health and relaxation at risk.

It is for this reason, that footwear manufacturers place emphasis on technology that maximises comfort, within the limits of the technical performance we demand.

Nowadays features in mountain footwear such as a wrap-around, precise fit combined with protection against rocks, stones and abrasion are basic. However, comfort and cushioning are showing some of the most interesting advances in technology.

Until a few years ago, mountain footwear had to be robust, technical and durable. Today these are still highly valued features, but new sports trends also demand they are lightweight and comfortable.

One Step Beyond: Recovery Footwear

It is within a relatively recent and ever-expanding activity such as mountain running where we have seen the greatest advances in lightweight and comfort. And thanks to the latest materials and technologies, all the features required in a mountain running shoe can be efficiently applied to a product as simple as the humble flip-flop.

Recovery footwear; comfort and performance to beat fatigue.

Surprisingly, recovery sandals combine the most advanced technologies and apply them to a product as simple as a flip-flop. Cushioning, an anatomical base, a wrap-around fit, grippy sole and top quality materials. Nothing is left out in this type of footwear that includes a warmer clog version, for the winter season.

Here, we will review the features of two iconic models from two brands that are a reference in both trail running and recovery footwear: the Salomon Reelax Break 5.0 and the Hoka One One Ora Recovery Flip.

Salomon Reelax Break 5.0

This is the fifth version of the legendary Salomon recovery sandals. We remember when the first version came out, many considered the price scandalous for just a pair of flip-flops, yet after trying them on the response was exceptional.

BarrabesReelax Break 6.0 de Salomon

If the features are described without actually seeing the product, you’d be forgiven for thinking they describe a top-of-the-range trail running shoe. EndoFit technology is designed to provide a precise fit (yes, even with just 2 straps) to ensure they stay in the right place as you move. This keeps your foot in the right position, even when wet, so that less muscle power is required from each foot.

The wrap-around shoe straps are made of a durable, soft, stretch mesh. This allows a snug fit without constriction and allows natural movement without compromising comfort. Like the rest of the sandal, it dries quickly and is cool and breathable.

Like most trail running shoes, the Salomon Reelax Break 5.0 uses EnergyCell cushioning with a pre-formed anatomical fit to achieve perfect stability and unbeatable comfort, which is greatly appreciated after intense outdoor activity. The high performance EVA foamabsorbs impact resulting in an exceptional level of comfort.

The footbed features a number of micro-perforated grooves which improve breathability and provide good flexibility. The heel height is 21 millimetres and the forefoot height is 15 millimetres, giving a 6 millimetre drop.

The sole is another feature that is pleasantly surprising. Far from using cheap soles that are not functional, the Reelax Break 5.0 is equipped with the Contagrip MD sole, which combines the brand’s most durable compounds with a geometry adapted to all types of terrain. In the name, Contagrip MD, M is for Mixed (geometry) and D is for Durability (of the compound). You can read more about Salomon Contagrip soles in the following article

Hoka One One Ora Recovery

Hoka One One shoes are well-known for their comfort and using the same technology, which revolutionized the running market with their oversized midsoles, to the world of relaxation was an obvious transition.

BarrabesOra Recovery de Hoka

A renowned brand for its oversized midsole, that has pushed the boundaries of comfort and cushioning to the extreme. By not skimping on the amount of EVA foam underfoot, immediate comfort is achieved as soon as you put on the shoes. A heel height of 33 millimetres and forefoot of 27 raise you above any discomfort. The concave base provides the perfect support for enhanced stability when you need it.

The midsole consists of two layers of different density EVA foam. This guarantees perfect weight distribution over the entire foot surface and absorbs any irregularities of the terrain, resulting in comfortable support in all situations.

But it is not only the thickness of the midsole that is the secret to Hoka One One's comfort. It is the rocker profile that stands out in many of its models. The forefoot position of the Meta-Rockerallows a comfortable transition and complements the natural stride.

Grooves in the sole offer a good grip, both on wet and dry surfaces, while the front of the sole has more tread for an even greater grip. Together with the wrap-around upper, this creates a close, comfortable fit that moves with you.

The women’s version has the same features, except for the last, which is narrower. It has the same 6mm drop for stability and comfort and is logically slightly lighter than the men’s version.

BarrabesWomen’s Hoka Ora Recovery

Other Tips for Relaxing Feet and Legs

Clearly, training correctly for your activity helps prevent fatigue and, in most cases, injury from overexertion, which can lead to fibrillar rupture, cramp or muscle stiffness.

Proper technique, especially during competition, on suitable terrain (avoid asphalt or concrete as much as possible) and using shoes with good cushioning will avoid more than one setback. It is also important to look after your hydration and nutrition. You may need a recovery supplement to repair your muscles after intense physical activity; it’s hard to believe how quickly you are able to recover until you have tried one.

It is not just training, technique and equipment that help prevent fatigue. Warming up and cooling down is essential for fast, pain-free recovery.

Compression socks during and after competition for fast recovery. Photo Lurbel

Using compression socks or tights also helps improve recovery and these can be used during or after activity or a combination of both to prevent fatigue. Read more in our article about the benefits of compression garments for your health and recovery after activity.

Cold water helps relax your legs. The contrast between the heat generated by physical activity and the cold water, reactivates circulation and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory by preventing the dilation of blood vessels and muscles. The regenerating and calming action of cold is undeniable and a quick dip in a river or lake, if permitted, is the perfect way to relax after activity.

Cold water reduces swelling of legs, during and after activity.

When a river or lake is not an option, it’s a good idea to use a cold pack to relax your legs or even reduce swelling if you have a sprain or other injury.

After activity, it is advisable to slightly raise your legs when you rest or sleep, to promote venous return. A cushion or pillow under your feet is a simple option for recover from excessive fatigue.

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