Talk to any endurance athlete about training and odds are at some point the conversation will turn towards recovery. Endurance athletes regularly push their bodies to the limits and it’s only through adequate recovery that they can avoid injury and realize true performance gains.
With so many recovery tools on the market today it can be hard to sort through which ones actually work and which ones are just marketing gimmicks. Here, we’ll take a closer look at one of the pricier – and perhaps lesser-known – recovery tools on the market; the Marc Pro Electronic Stimulation Device.
Based in Huntington Beach, California, Marc Pro is the leader in manufacturing and selling electronic stimulation devices for athletic use. Originally rooted in designing medical grade electrical stimulation devices, Marc Pro’s founders noticed that professional athletes were using the company’s devices for recovery purposes, which prompted it to develop an FDA approved device built specifically with athletes in mind.
Electronic stimulation devices work by sending small electronic signals through the skin to both activate and contract the muscle and/or stimulate nerves. Ryan Heaney, president of Marc Pro said that not all of these devices are the same or are ideal for recovery proposes. There are three classes of electronic stimulation devices: TEN (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) devices are designed to help deal with pain and are mostly used in a doctor’s office; muscle stimulators, which are designed to help patients build muscle such as recovering from muscle atrophy; and third, devices designed specially for recovery purposes, which is where Marc Pro falls..
Includesd in the box: six packs of four electrodes, two lead wires, recharger, user manual, and carrying case.
What makes the Marc Pro specialized for recovery is its distinct, patented waveform technology. The key to muscle recovery is increasing blood flow to the damaged muscles to facilitate the removal of metabolic waste without adding additional stress or damage.
“The whole premise of Marc Pro is we found a way to get significant, strong muscle contractions/activity, which naturally does all kind of great things to the body. The special thing is we found a way to do it without any fatigue on muscles whatsoever or stress on the tissues,” said Heaney. “You can take that principle of active recovery that we are believers in and you can do it to a higher intensity, longer, and target it anywhere you want.”
Detailed instruction book with illustrations on electrode placements.
At first using the Marc Pro seems intimidating. It involves sticking electrodes connected to an electronic device to various parts on your body. My biggest concern was not knowing where to place the electrodes for the best results, however, Heaney assured me it’s less scientific than you think. He suggested placing the electrodes on any sore muscle(s) and as long as you get a muscle contraction, you’ve done it right. If you’re still unsure, the Marc Pro comes with an instruction guide that clearly illustrates common electrode placements.
A look at the two A/B outlets and dials to adjust intensity.
The Marc Pro has two outlets labeled A and B, each allowing for two electrode placements for a total of four electrodes on your body, or enough to work four separate muscles.
Electrode placement on quads with intensity at 4.8.
Getting started was simple, place the sticky electrodes on the targeted muscle(s) and connect the lead wires to the ends of the electrodes and main device. Once all wired up, slowly turn the intensity dial to begin the electric stimulation. Initially it felt awkward, certainly not painful, but similar to a small electric shock. However, after a few seconds the awkwardness went away.
A look at the Marc Pro device
Two dials allowed me to adjust the intensity from 0 to 9. As I dialed up the intensity my muscle contractions increased. Heaney suggested that since the Marc Pro’s distinct waveform doesn’t fatigue the muscle while contracting, you could leave the Marc Pro on for as long as you wanted; the longer the better. It comes with a built in timer to help keep track of how long its been functioning.
To test its effectiveness in aiding recovery I used it on my right calf/soleus and on the arch of my foot, currently a problem area for me. I used it for two 30-minute sessions and certainly noticed a difference, even after the first session. The pain I was having due to tightness in the area was reduced and mobility increased. In another test my wife tried it following a heavy calf workout and it seemed to help loosen up her calves, making her feel less tight and more mobile.
Over the next few weeks, I often found myself using Marc Pro more on specific problem areas and not just for running related fatigue. It also came in handy to help recovery from hard rock climbing days. One of the real benefits I found was its ability to work on small muscles or difficult to reach muscles. I could see a real benefit in using the Marc Pro for multi-day/stage endurance events for quick recovery where time in between events is severely limited.
The Marc Pro retails for $650, which certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those that train hard, race often and take recovery seriously, it’s worth adding the Marc Pro to your workout regimen. Marc Pro also offers a 12-month installment plan of $54.16, which is roughly the price of a monthly-massage.
Find out more at marcpro.com.