As someone who's extremely invested in fitness — I was a former division 1 sprinter, I have my own personal training business, and I'm a fitness editor — I think it's safe to say that I'm always on top of the next big trend in fitness.
Knowing the next big trend is a big thing since fitness is an $80 billion industry globally — and growing. I remember the rise of boutique fitness studios (they're still on the rise), how APL shook up the sneaker industry, and I'm telling you all now that at-home EMS systems like the PowerDot Smart Muscle Stimulator ($249) are going to be the next fitness trend focused on workout recovery.
What Is Electric Muscle Stimulation?
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) has been around for years and is often used for recovery, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. Stim devices, regularly used by professionals and elite athletes for EMS treatment, are becoming more common among the general population. EMS sends electrical impulses from a device to the designated area on the body, creating involuntary muscle contractions, which is beneficial in a variety of ways. A 2012 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine reported that EMS is effective in improving muscle strength and blood flow, decreasing atrophy, healing tissue, and decreasing pain. These are good things for anyone interested in pushing their body.
What Is PowerDot?
The PowerDot provides all of these benefits without the hassle of going to a specialist. Traditionally, to get stim treatments, you must see a professional, like a physical therapist. The PT rolls out a machine, pulls out a bunch of cords, and places pads on your body to target the treatment to specific areas. If you've ever gotten stim before, you know you're stuck on the table, unable to move, for close to 30 minutes.
PowerDot completely changes the game — it's a portable EMS machine described by its maker as "the world's first smart muscle stimulator." To my surprise, the device is quite easy to use. You have two options; the PowerDot Uno ($249) comes with one pod and allows you to apply stimulation to one muscle group at a time and comes with one pod, four sets of electrode pads, one set of lead cables, a charging cable, and a carrying case. The PowerDot Duo ($449) allows you to apply stimulation to two areas simultaneously and comes with two pods, four sets of electrode pads, two sets of lead cables, two charging cables, and a carrying case. The three-inch-long pods connect to two electrode pads with the lead cable.
Before using your PowerDot for the first time, download the app, pair the Bluetooth pods to your phone or tablet, and then select which muscle group(s) you want to target in the app. From there, the app allows you to select your specific recovery program (active recovery, extended recovery, massage, warmup) and provides instructions on how to set up the pods and where to place the electrode pads. It's basically impossible to mess up your stim treatment since the app guides you through each step. During the treatment, you control the intensity of the stimulation and you have the freedom to move around. I've done the treatment more than 15 feet away from my phone and have never experienced a Bluetooth interruption. I've also accidentally closed the app while on my phone, and the treatment continued until it reached its designated time.
Why I Think It's Worth the Investment
Yes, I know that spending $249 (or $449) is a major investment for most. But, in my opinion, if you're someone who is extremely active and wants to perform at your best, you've got to invest in your body. It doesn't matter if you're working with the best trainer in the world if your body feels like sh*t from the lack of an adequate recovery program. I played sports my entire life, and one of the lessons that always stuck with me, thanks to my collegiate track and field coach, is that you've got to do your recovery work. EMS alone won't alleviate your pain, but combined with yoga, sports massages, active release technique, and other treatments, you will notice a difference in your body. These methods help reduce muscle tension, treat knots, flush your body of toxins, and prevent injury.
I also love this machine because I don't have to pay to see a physical therapist who will essentially do the same treatment for about the cost of my PowerDot. I can treat myself in the comfort of my own home and still tackle my other daily tasks. I once treated a minor hamstring strain while cleaning my apartment, and I have also cooked dinner while doing treatments. I've been using my PowerDot device for close to five months now and I'm so happy I have it. Now that I'm beginning to do to more track workouts, I know my body is thankful for it. Yes, it's more expensive than a foam roller, but I promise you it's worth the investment in the long run.