Podcast

How Tech Can Help With Muscle Recovery

20 Minute Fitness Episode #75

On today’s 20 Minute Fitness episode we are looking at a very important topic, which is muscle recovery. As you probably know, when you’re working hard in the gym there are micro tears created in your muscles. Your muscles then start working hard on recovering from themselves however, they surely appreciate a little help.

So today we’re introducing you to all the magical innovations that you can use to help your muscles recover faster and more efficiently. Press play to learn about the different techniques and innovations that can make your muscles’ lives easier!

Three Things You Will Learn

1) Stretching. Is it Good For Your Muscles?

The topic of pre & post workout stretching is a quite controversial one. Most of the research agrees that pre-exercise stretching improves performance. But research on the impact of stretching after you are done with your sweat session is inconclusive. 

However we believe that if you feel like your body appreciates a good stretch, then you should definitely keep on doing it. And a great app that can help you master your techniques is the Stretching app by SWorkit

Stretching by Sworkit is designed to increase your flexibility and provide you with some great pilates workouts. Downloading the app will grant you access to over a 100 workouts and guided sessions. These workouts are categorized based on whether they are full body, head-to-toe or pilates. 

Press play now to hear more about the scientific findings behind stretching and the various features of Sworkit

2) Gadgets That Your Muscles Will Appreciate

Although we often tend to forget about the process of muscle recovery, there are actually plenty of products available for our use.

Starting with the Hypervolt gun a muscle vibration device that can help to relax sore and stiffed muscles. The device has 4 different attachments, each of which can be used for specific muscle areas. So no matter where you feel the pain, the Hypervolt gun can help.

Using the already discussed Electrical Muscle Stimulation technique, the Powerdot 2.0 is also a great gadget to use after your workouts. By inducing muscle contractions, the Powerdot 2.0 increases blood flow in your body, which enhances recovery.

Listen to today’s episode to learn more about the Hypervolt gun, the Powerdot 2.0 and two other gadgets that will help you with not just recovering but also building your muscles!

3) Luxury Muscle Recovery

Besides the more affordable innovations that can be accessible by everyday people, there are also products towards the higher end of the spectrum. Of course these products are usually designed for athletes as they follow more scientific approaches.

The NormaTec Pulse 2.0 stockings were for instance created by a physician bio-engineer. They use three techniques, sequential pulsing, gradients and distal release, to enhance blood flow and speed up recovery. 

Finally a very different product category that targets your muscles during the night is Signature Sleep’s nanobionic mattress collection. These mattresses have three layers, each of them with a different functionality aiding your recovery in a different way.

Tune in to get a deeper insight into the NormaTec Pulse 2.0 stockings and learn more about each layer of the Signature Sleep nanobionic mattresses


THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSOR: SWEATY BETTY

Sweaty Betty is the brand responsible for creating your new favorite leggings – the bum-sculpting power leggings! The power leggings are specifically engineered to sculpt, support and stretch and are made to perform for every sport from run to yoga.

They are our best-selling leggings, and have won awards from the likes of Self & Women’s Health.

So if you’d like to get the perfect leggings for yourself, Sweaty Betty is your brand. Go and check out www.sweatybetty.com & listen to this week’s episode to receive a special treat from them!


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Full Transcript

00:05: Hello and welcome back to another episode of 20 Minute Fitness. Today we are back with another episode of the How Tech Can Help series. If you are enjoying the podcast so far, we would be really, really grateful if you could take just five seconds to head to the Apple podcast app and click five stars to give us a five star rating. It honestly takes a matter of seconds, but it means an awful lot to us, as we really do work hard on trying to make really valuable podcasts. So I’d just like to say a massive thank you in advance for anyone that goes and does that for us as well. And if you are there, and if you are enjoying the podcast, then don’t forget to subscribe as well so you can be aware when there’s a new episode that’s just been released. Before we dive into today’s episode, of course, the podcast is powered by ShapeScale. ShapeScale is a 3D body scanning scale. You simply step on and the robotic arm will move all around your body capturing all sorts of body data. This is then transferred to the app, and then through the app, you can see a photo-realistic 3D avatar of your body, and also lots of interesting insights, such as your body fat percentage, your lean muscle mass and your muscle circumferences. So this makes ShapeScale a really comprehensive body fitness tracker, because you’re getting the visual representation of your body, along with the quantitative data. It is now available for pre-order at shapescale.com. So definitely go and check it out.

01:31: So today’s episode is focusing on muscle recovery, and obviously, the tech which can help with your muscle recovery. I’m sure you all know how important it is to allow your muscles to rest and recover after a long, hard workout. But I’m gonna briefly summarize the process for everyone, just so we can all understand what I’m really talking about. So obviously when you workout you’re placing your muscles under stress, and we’ve done previous episodes and blog posts on this, but small, microscopic tears occur in the muscles, and so the delayed onset of muscle soreness you get after, a couple of days after you workout comes from these microscopic tears, and obviously inflammation occurs as well and electrolytes like calcium can also accumulate. As a result of the microtrauma, the muscle will then try and build up and replenish the tissue and become properly striated. So we’re really looking at the tech that enhances this recovery process, that the process where your muscle is actually rebuilding, removing waste metabolites and things like that. It’s worth noting that this recovery process is necessary to induce muscle hypertrophy as the muscle builds back stronger. Obviously, when we’re talking about recovery, we could also look at the tech that helps us sleep, as obviously getting adequate sleep is very important to recovery and the muscle growth process.

02:49: Sleep enhances muscle recovery, but only through low levels of protein synthesis, and obviously through human growth hormone release as well. However, we have already covered tech that can help with the sleep process, not necessarily when we’re looking at the correlation between sleep and muscle recovery, but anything really that helps induce better sleep is also going to help with our recovery as well. So today’s episode is really focusing on tech that’s purely been built to help, or designed to aid the muscle recovery process when you are awake and potentially straight after your workouts or a few days after your workout. So as usual, let’s start by looking at the most accessible end of the spectrum. So first up, we’re looking at an app called Stretching Sworkit, and it’s designed to increase your flexibility and also help you follow different pilates workouts. The app is designed by Nexercise, and the family of apps belonging to Nexercise have a great reputation as well. So it’s got some credibility moving forward. Before we move into discuss the intricacies of the app though, it’s interesting to actually have a little discussion about stretching and whether it helps the muscle recovery process.

03:53: I’m sure, like me, you’ve always been told that stretching before and even after you exercise is something that’s imperative for us to make sure our muscles are warm before we workout and also during the cool-down process, and it has been studied comprehensively. Stretching pre-exercise has long considered to be beneficial. Dr. Shreya, for example, a sports medicine clinician, found that stretching pre-exercise can make your muscles weaker and slower, as in it actually inhibits your muscles in a sense, but it increases your range of motion, and as such, your performance then increases. Post-exercise stretching has been studied, but perhaps less comprehensively than pre-exercise stretching. Several studies have highlighted post-exercise stretching’s impact on muscular performance, suggesting that using stretching to enhance your flexibility may indirectly improve your performance and reduce muscle soreness. And editors from Verywell Fit on the subject of recovery post-exercise also found stretching gently after you exercise to aid muscle recovery. However, the extent of its influence on muscle recovery is actually not very significant. One meta-analysis on this topic included over 2,500 participants and it found that post-exercise stretching for recovery only reduced the effects of muscle soreness by one to four points on a 100 point scale.

05:15: So that was only a 1% to 4% improvement. So really not that statistically significant. And when we consider that, there’s also studies that say it really has no effect on muscle recovery. A study called, Stretching to Prevent or Reduce Muscle Soreness After Exercise, found that stretching is ineffective in helping to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. And another study which is called, The Effects of Immediate Post-game Recovery Procedures, found that flexibility and power and muscle recovery, 48 hours post-game was not significantly enhanced by performing an immediate post-game recovery procedure, whether that be hot and cold recovery measures, pool walking or stretching. So stretching had no real impact on muscle recovery, power or flexibility up to 48 hours after the exercise. So it does seem that post-exercise stretching may not be as imperative as we’re led to believe. However, if you’re like me and you’re someone that feels that every little helps when we’re trying to hit our fitness goals, then even that 1% to 4% improvement might help, you might want to carry on doing stretching, particularly if you actually have found it has impacted your performance or you felt more flexible and better range of motion because of it, or even less delayed onset of muscle soreness.

06:29: And if so, Sworkit might be the app for you. So the Sworkit app has 100 plus workouts and guided plans and these are categorized by full body stretches, head to toe stretches and the pilates workouts as previously mentioned, and with the app as well you can also make your own custom work out. So the app will run you through the workout, showing you the various movements performed by someone in a video, which obviously helps you to ensure you’re getting correct form and really actually getting that proper stretch on the muscle. So my little dive into stretching, it hasn’t been to put you off stretching, it’s really been a means of educating you about this sort of ambiguous conclusion about whether stretching post-exercise is actually beneficial for muscle recovery, but as previously mentioned, if you are someone that has found it beneficial then obviously keep doing it, as there’s not been any negatives associated with it. Now, moving on to the mid-end category, it’s actually hard to find any muscle recovery tech that is at a convenient price point and very basic and straightforward to follow, so that’s why we’ve jumped straight into the mid-end categories. And the first bit of tech we’re going to look at is called the Hypervolt gun. So this is a muscular vibration device that can help relax sore and stiff muscles to help you improve your mobility.

07:47: So to me, the Hypervolt looks very similar to a hairdryer and it has three intensity settings and it comes with four different attachments to help you target different specific sore muscles. So the device uses percussive massaging, which is a form of massage that’s designed to accelerate the growth and repair of tissues by providing some strong rapid duration pulses and with the Hypervolt you’re getting 3,200 rapid concentrated percussions per minute. And these pulses are going deep into the tissues of the body, and it’s helping to break up adhesions and scar tissue, which is gonna help you or help you relieve soreness in your muscles and sort of relax stiff muscles as well. And the sort of subsequent benefits of this is it’s going to improve blood circulation, your flexibility and your range of motion also which is obviously as previously mentioned has been linked to muscular performance. So if you want an easy-to-use, self-myofascial release device, then the Hypervolt could be for you, but it will set you back $350, but it’s really nice, really portable. Again, there are four different attachments so you can really target any muscle no matter which one is sore so that’s sort of a micro-targeting is particularly interesting.

09:00: Next up in this category, we have the PowerDot and the PowerDot uses electronic muscle stimulation, or EMS which we’ve previously covered in the last How Tech Can Help episode and this induces concentric muscle contractions. So, the reason being for this is that it increases blood flow and venous return to enhance recovery post-exercise. We should know really that the PowerDot uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation and not transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. As there are different types of muscle stimulation, with the main difference between them being that neuromuscular stimulation uses signals at a higher hertz to stimulate muscle fibers and transcutaneous stimulation sends electrical impulses along nerve strands and along the skin. So there’s differences between the two and the PowerDot uses the former. So the method involves attaching electrodes to the skin and an electric current is delivered to the muscle to induce the small muscle contractions and it’s conducted in order really to bring oxygenated blood to the muscle and to flush out lactic acid that’s been built up in the muscle and also to deliver nutrients such as glucose and amino acids and ATP for energy as well. And there are studies that show that EMS can increase blood flow, and alleviate pain, and restore muscle working capacity.

10:20: Again though, the research done into EMS is inconclusive and I found one study that compared the effects of interventions massage or MSG with EMS and also against passive rest and it was on lactate disappearance and muscle recoveries. They tested the three means of trying to alleviate any muscle pain on lactate disappearance and muscle recovery. The study was tested on 12 healthy men and it was found that both MSG and EMS were not more effective than passive rest in the recovery process after high-intensity exercise. So again, more conclusive research is necessary to be 100% sure of the benefits of the PowerDot, but despite this, let’s still find out some more about what EMS does in particular with the PowerDot. So we’re looking at the PowerDot 2.0, which comes with either one pod and two electrodes which costs $249 or two pods and four electrodes for $349. And once the pod and the electrodes are attached, you can use the PowerDot app to select and control the programs you want to use to aid your muscle recovery.

11:25: There are 10 different preset programs and these include things like extended recovery, active recovery, which is suggested to be used within two hours of working out and light recovery, which is low frequency, non-fatiguing stimulation and there’s also massage as well. And after you’ve selected the adequate program, you’re then walked through these body parts selection process and to make sure that you have put the device on the correct anatomical side, there’s also instructions on this as well. If you want multi-functionality as well, the PowerDot can also be used to help muscular endurance and strength endurance, and there are also respective programs for you to try to give these a go. Before moving on to the next episode, I want to take some time to thank our sponsor.

12:07: Today’s episode is brought to you by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty is a family-owned business based in London with the mission to curate and create clothes for women who live an active lifestyle, that make them feel powerful and beautiful. Sweaty Betty is the brand responsible for creating your new favorite leggings, the bum sculpting power leggings. The power leggings are specifically engineered to sculpt, support and stretch and they’re made to perform for every sport from running to yoga. So as you guys may have heard me mentioning this before, I live a very active life and I started exercising about 10 years ago, which means that I have quite a bit of experience with the various sportswear brands and I also have really, really high standards for my leggings. So I received my first Sweaty Betty power leggings a couple of weeks ago and since day one when I first tried them it became my absolute number one, my favorite leggings. So, what I really like about the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings is that it’s the perfect fit and perfect length.

13:03: And I’ve been struggling with this in the past before because I am quite tall, I have a quite athletic figure and all the leggings that I usually try on are either too long or too big, but the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings are just the perfect fit and the perfect length as well. Secondly, it makes my legs look a lot better than my other leggings, and they also lift my bum, which are clearly big pluses. And finally, looking at the functionality, it also provides the perfect support no matter what exercise I do. So yeah, I’m definitely going to place another few orders and get another few pairs of the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings because I just feel that finally I found the perfect leggings. So yeah, if you’d like to get the perfect leggings for yourself as well, I can only recommend the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings. So the brand was kind enough to give a really good discount for all our 20 Minute Fitness listeners, so for 20% off full-priced items, simply go to sweatybetty.com/podcast and use the promo code, “SHAPE”. That’s 20% off full-priced items if you go to sweatybetty.com/podcast and use the promo code, “SHAPE”.

14:12: And we are back. So we’re still looking at the mid-end category at the moment of the tech that can help with muscle recovery. And the next device we’re going to look at is another example of a device using EMS to help muscles recover faster, and it’s known as the Marc Pro. So the Marc Pro, again, is designed to flush out waste quickly and deliver required nutrients to the muscles. And the team behind the products call this process, Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade, or, MARC for short, and obviously, that’s hence the name. And they say that the device is used for more than muscle recovery, it’s also used for muscle conditioning, and this process includes nitric oxide production, increased blood flow, vasodilation, and repeated-use angiogenesis. Nitric oxide is a gas naturally produced by the body which helps with blood flow. And you can actually get nitric oxide supplements, and these are marketed to help you increase the pump when you work out and also for enhancing muscle recovery. So you can see why they say that muscle conditioning with the production of nitric oxide can also help muscle recovery there. And vasodilation widens your blood vessels, and this happens when smooth muscles found in the walls of the arteries or large veins relax, and it allows the blood vessels to open up and more blood to flow.

15:31: And angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels and, as a consequence, obviously, more oxygenated blood is flowing through the body. So these three factors, the company have mentioned here that the Marc Pro stimulates within the body all help with increased blood flow within the body so more oxygenated blood’s getting to the muscles, and more waste products are being removed, and more ATP and glucose and other nutrients are delivered to the muscle as well. So that’s another example of EMS with additional functional benefits. And obviously, you can look more into the Marc Pro and decide which you believe suits you better, the Marc Pro or the PowerDot. I will say, though, that the Marc Pro is far more expensive, costing, for the basic model, $699, and the Marc Pro Plus is $1399, and that’s for additional pain relief as well as muscle recovery. So this product’s really, at that price point, is going to be pushing towards the top end of the tech that we cover. A final example is that of Firefly, and Firefly offers a portable solution with no leads or wires, and, again, it’s delivering painless electrical impulses to gently activate the muscles. They say it’s only for the lower leg, but again, for the same sort of reasons or motivations to increase blood flow. And the organization has said that DOMS, delayed-onset muscle soreness, is reduced within 24 hours of using the Firefly.

16:56: What’s interesting is the product is far cheaper, it’s less than $50, and it is used by professional sports teams in the UK, including Sale Sharks Rugby Club, one of the premiership clubs, the national Scottish rugby team, and the Sydney Football Club in Australia as well, so some added credibility for Firefly there as well. Moving to the high end now for advanced athletes and the tech that’s used when you have a really proficient level of experience in the fitness industry, and the first thing we’re going to look at is the NormaTec stockings. So the PULSE 2.0 stockings from NormaTec have a hefty price tag to say the least, at $1295, or you can pay for monthly at $216 for six months. And it’s also worth noting before we dive in, that NormaTec do offer full-body recovery systems, leg recovery systems and hip recovery systems, but we’re just going to look at the leg recovery systems, the PULSE 2.0 stockings. So to me, the stockings resemble something like space boots, like an astronaut would wear, and they were created by a physician bio-engineer to enhance blood flow and speed recovery. And it offers three techniques to help speed recovery. So the first one is pulsing, so instead of static compression which squeezes fluid out of the limbs, the stockings use sequential pulsing technology which sort of better mimics the muscle pump of the legs, and it enhances the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs post-workout.

18:25: The second technique to help speed recovery is known as gradients, and these are similar to veins and lymphatic vessels which have one-way valves which prevent fluid backflow. NormaTec PULSE technology uses hold pressures to keep fluids from being forced in the wrong direction. And the final technique is distal release. Extended static pressure can be a detriment to a body circulatory flow, and so the stockings reduce the hold pressures once they are no longer needed to prevent backflow to, obviously, make sure there’s no extended static pressure, and therefore, each portion of the limb gains maximal rest time without significant pause between compression cycles. The device has five different chambers in each stocking, and these operate in cycles of the above three techniques, pulsing and holding as well. So through the app, you can actually set your time for recovery in 10, 20 or 30-minute increments, and you can set your mode of whether you want rapid flush, or if you want an intermittent massage, and there’s lots of different functionalities like setting the relevant pressures, activating or deactivating different chambers so you could target specific areas or miss out different areas as well. And again, NormaTec has a credibility as well because they are the official sponsor of USA Weightlifting as well.

19:47: Also, a study called Dynamic Compression Enhances Pressure-to-Pain Threshold in Elite Athlete Recovery: Exploratory Study found that it is a promising means of accelerating and enhancing recovery after aggressive or sort of normal aggressive training. Finally, we’re going to look at Signature Sleep‘s Nanobionic reset mattress. That sounds quite technical, doesn’t it? So, Signature Sleep’s latest innovation is the Nanobionic reset mattress, and the mattress itself has multiple different layers. The first one is a charcoal and gel infused memory foam layer which provides a cooler sleeping surface that’s obviously gonna help you regulate your body temperature. And following that, the next layer allows for superior air flow so it’s distributing heat away from the body because if you’re like me, I like to sleep when it’s cool and my body is dealing much more towards the cold side rather than too hot, and the core of the mattress is made with independently encased coils that minimize motion transfer to help relieve pressure and obviously contribute to a more restful or sound sleep.

20:51: And then the top layer is the Nanobionic technology. So Nanobionic is high-tech patented coating, and it’s in the form of a liquid substance, and it basically transforms body heat into Far Infrared Rays, and then reflects them back into the body. So Far Infrared Rays are invisible waves of energy which have the ability to penetrate and soothe the human body. So this in turn promotes a temporary increase in local blood flow and also helps to soothe muscles and increase your comfort as well. Nanobionic technology has been regulated by the FDA and it aids recovery after reflecting the Far Infrared Rays back into the body. So the rays are enveloping your muscles and improving your circulation, and because of the influx of oxygen that’s flooding the muscles, your muscles are better able to detox after exercise and restore themselves so you’re ready to work out again. The increase of the blood flow in the body obviously helps with quicker removal of toxins and waste products like lactic acid, and good circulation of blood and oxygen is obviously what helps us get through a workout in the first place.

21:57: And so, if we’re promoting that when we’re trying to recover as well, we’re going to recover much faster. So not only are you gonna get a sound sleep with a Nanobionic mattress, you’re also going to be helping your muscles to recover as well. So that’s all we have time for in today’s episode of 20 Minute Fitness. I really hope that you’ve taken some of this information on board. Muscle recovery is such an important part that’s often overlooked in our overall fitness plans. Some could say actually it’s perhaps the most important part of trying to grow muscle. If you over-train and don’t rest for example, you’re not doing anything good. You’re actually damaging your muscles, not letting them rebuild and getting bigger. So focus on your recovery is definitely a tip. Let us know as well, if you’ve already tried any of this tech or if you found any other tech out there that helps with your muscle recovery, we’d be very interested in finding out, and we look forward to you tuning in to the next episode.

[music]

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.

One Comment

  1. nice article, and I might want more data in the event that you have any. I am captivated with this point and your post has been a standout amongst the best I have perused.

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