My biggest mistake when working out has always been I don’t stretch enough before and after a workout. I rarely ever included a cooldown and wouldn’t give my muscles enough time between workouts to maximize their potential growth. Sure, I could lift heavy and push my power reps, but now I’m finding that this doesn’t nearly mean as much if I can’t get the most out of my body and that mobility is as important as strength.
I foam roll every other day, I’m a new Therabody owner, as I received the Wave Roller and Wave Duo as Christmas gifts. Foam Rolling is critical to y daily life and the time I set aside to release tension in my muscles is not only therapeutic for my body but also for my mind.
I’ve been content with my process over the last few years as we’ve all had to set aside public gyms for at-home setups. Some people have figured out what works best for them two years into a global pandemic, others are still figuring it out. I’m somewhere in-between, doing enough to lose weight and maintain, but looking to finally get back into a gym that isn’t at home.
Regardless of where I am though, my recovery is what has made the transitions easier. As I mentioned before, the foam rolling is great but I’ve always wanted to do more at home. I visit a chiropractor once a month to get an adjustment and hook up to an NMES machine. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation has been critical to my recovery over the years — a couple of years ago, I had an inflamed Achilles Tendon, one that was painful and made anything outside of walking difficult. Up until that point, I’d try Graston, a technique using a soft-tissue tool to break down scar tissue, daily exercising, and stretching with temporary relief. However, when introduced to an NMES machine every other week, my ailment went away.
Let’s back up a bit to explain what NMES is and what TENS are. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation sends electrical pulses to your muscle via the medical device and attached pads. The idea is these signals help improve muscle recovery by blocking out the pain receptors, then cause your muscles to contract, increasing the range of motion. TENS on the other hand is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and works in a similar way by sending electrical signals to block pain receptors.
For the longest time, I wanted something like an NMES machine at home. I’d tried a few gimmicks before but nothing worked as I wanted it to work and I’d be left dejected at continuing using a product I had no trust in. I left it alone for a few years, my new thing was using a massage gun as my main tool after my workouts. Sure, compounding that with foam rolling was great but in the back of my mind, it wasn’t enough. I’m someone who tried not to be too sedentary, I’ll do my best to stand as often as I can and work out between meetings but that isn’t enough.
It’s about longevity
In 2021, Therabody acquired Smart Muscle Stimulator’s PowerDot. It wasn’t until late in 2021 that I learned about the product itself and as recently as January I was able to sit down with Lissa Bankston, the Director of Human Performance at Therabody to really learn more about the stability of products available. I generally like to do my research on my own time but having someone from the company willing to share the history behind the equipment and why it should be considered was enlightening.
For starters, being able to connect with like-minded people who want to lift each other up and ensure we feel good no matter the situation is reason enough to want to try these products out. Lissa was exemplary and understanding – and one of my main goals in wanting to see what the PowerDot hype was about centred on my love of technology and my love of self-care.
We’re all getting older; we lead extraordinary lives and some of us push our bodies regularly. I’m at a point where I don’t care to lift heavy, I want to trim my weight down and maintain my muscle. Pair those goals with the newest and most important goal — I want to enhance my mobility and ensure my body can go the distance without worrying about any unnecessary pain.
So, upon being asked if I wanted to give the PowerDot 2.0 a test drive, I immediately agreed to see how the product lives up to others I’ve tried over the years. In short, I can say it blows the competition out of the water and is about as close to the same level of relief I felt when visiting my chiropractor and physiotherapist.
While Therabody has been known for its massage guns, the expansion into more at-home therapy tools has been a hit so far. I’ve been using the PowerDot 2.0 Duo extensively and have been impressed by the changes I’ve been seeing so far. The muscle stimulator combines both NMES and TENs into one small and powerful device that hooks up to your smartphone or tablet.
Within minutes of unpacking the PowerDot 2.0, I was able to down the app, create an account, and explore the programs created for several body parts. Depending on the model you pick up, the box includes either one (Uno) or two (Duo) PowerDot pods. You have one set of electrode pads (two rectangular and four round electrode pads), one or two sets of lead cables, a micro-USB charging cable and a protective case. Everything is packed neatly, designed to fit with you on the go, and works without hassle. The less time I need to worry about having to set up a device is good and always a bonus.
Keeps you feeling good amidst recovery
Using the PowerDot 2.0 is easy — attach the electrode pads to the desired area, attach the magnetic cables, and select the corresponding program. The electrode pads use a bio gel that helps conduct electricity and generally last between 25-30 sessions before needing to be replaced. You can extend the longevity by cleaning each pad with rubbing alcohol. A replacement set of electrode pads costs $24 CAD and can be bought in packs of up to 12.
Turn on the pods and connect them to your phone via Bluetooth. From there, you can select the program and body part you want to focus on. My biggest area is some lower/middle back tightness — it’s been a bit of a nuisance for some time now that I can generally alleviate with foam rolling and stretching. However, adding the PowerDot 2.0 into the mix has led to prolonged periods where I don’t need to rely on physical tools. Instead, consistent stretching and the PowerDot 2.0 has been a blessing.
The device helps speed up recovery because it forces your muscle to contract, which leads to increased blood flow to the area and alleviates any inflammation at the same time. Be sure to stay on top of charging the PowerDot 2.0 — it takes about 90 minutes to fully charge and can last upwards of 6 hours on a single charge.
Diving into the app, there are several programs to choose from: The app includes 10 programs. Here’s an overview of each program’s intended use:
- Muscle Endurance: improve performance for endurance-oriented sports disciplines
- Strength Endurance: improve performance in strength endurance-focused sports disciplines
- Resistance: improve capacity to sustain intense and prolonged effort
- Strength: improve performance in strength-oriented sports disciplines
- Explosive Strength: improve performance in explosive strength – and speed-oriented disciplines
- Active Recovery: improve and accelerate muscle recovery after an intense endurance exercise — used within 2 hours after a high endurance workout or competitions
- Extended Recovery: same use as Active Recovery but runs for longer
- Light Recovery: low frequency, non-fatiguing recovery intervention
- Warm-Up/Potentiation: increase contraction speed and prepare muscles for max power output — Use 5–10 minutes before important competitions or sporting events
- Massage: improve blood circulation, relax muscles, reduce muscular tension, and help eliminate muscular toxins
The PowerDot 2.0 is worth the investment
As you can see there are options available no matter what you’re doing. I’ve been using a few of the modes every other day for a couple of hours at a time. What stood out for me and what’s worked so far is a mix of Warm-Up/Active Recovery/Massage. Each category is able to assist in repairing and rehabilitating the muscles that are tight and unable to loosen up.
Being a writer means I’m sitting for prolonged periods of time and while I mentioned earlier that I’ve done my best to deter myself from sitting too much, it’s inevitable. I also am caught in a loop where I have tons of games to review and I sit at my desk or couch to do that. One of my favourite things in recent weeks is to sit while I write and run the massage setting for an hour. Of course, for every hour spent sitting, you should be standing for 10-15 minutes. This has given me some leeway in my program and recovery.
I’ve kept my workouts consistent throughout each week. Spending the last two months with the PowerDot 2.0 has been good for my recovery periods. With a consistent schedule of 45-1 hour sessions at the end of the day to speed up recovery, I feel better. In particular, my back which has been tight for some time has begun opening up with the muscles less constrictive and my posture improving.
The PowerDot app has proven to be useful in several ways. The PowerDot is able to log and recommend suggest workouts. PowerDot picks up on your workouts through any linked app and suggests recovery programs based on the level of fatigue you’re feeling. In a sense, the device learns what ails you, suggesting a program to recover those sore muscles. It’s a nice way to build programs if you’re not doing it already.
For my time spent with the PowerDot, I’m already looking at how I can continue to incorporate the device into my daily life. I’ve taken it on the road with me, driving with it on, walking with it on, and unwinding with it at home. It’s a versatile tool and one that I’m disappointed I didn’t know about years ago.
This review was publishing using a loan unit offered by Therabody.