You’ve likely seen massage guns, roller balls and more advanced tech like the FlexBeam red light therapy while strolling through the malls or trawling online, but what do these sports rehab equipment actually do?
Whether it’s to treat symptoms of pain, assist in the rehabilitation of niggling injuries, or improve recovery for sports performance, it’s essential to understand the effectiveness of home medical equipment.
Watch HardwareZone’s interview with HelloPhysio’s founding physio Jenny Huang below. Also, don’t forget to read our article about what we prescribe to our clients at our sports physiotherapy clinic regarding rollers, percussive massage guns, and home red light therapy devices.
Jenny Huang, founding and senior physiotherapist at HelloPhysio, discusses the best rehab equipment at home with HardwareZone’s host Zachary Chan.
In This Article:
- Foam Rollers and Theragun’s Wave Duo to Reduce Pain
- How to Use Massage Guns and Percussive Rehab Equipment
- Benefits of the Portable FlexBeam Red Light Therapy Device
- Give a Holiday Gift of Electronic Health
Physiotherapy and sports rehab equipment have made their way to consumers in Singapore. You might already have these sports rehab tech at home, but have you ever wondered what these devices actually do and how they work?
Foam Rollers and Theragun’s Wave Duo
There are a wide range of rollers being sold virtually everywhere across Singapore, from Decathlon to Cotton On stores, and online. But what do these home products actually do, and how can we use them correctly without hurting ourselves even more?
You’ve probably read articles and videos featuring exercises with foam or ball rollers, but are they really safe to use? This is when coming to a trained physiotherapist can help to alleviate pain without injuring yourself.
At HelloPhysio, our clinical team uses foam and high-tech rollers to help loosen taut muscles. This balances out movement patterns across the body to reduce pain. When we prescribe these rehab exercise equipment to our clients, they sometimes give us a daunting look of “Really, I have to get on the ground in that position and put a roller underneath my hip, AND balance while shifting my weight back and forth??”
When it comes to Theragun’s Wave Duo, the compact size, vibrations and ‘dumbbell-shaped spheres’ give the device a leg up on other rehab equipment as it can reach all parts of the body. The vibrations create a sensation that helps muscles become pliable and boosts the area’s circulation. Most people usually feel pain in their spine, neck, and back, and you can even use the device on your spine along the paraspinal.
Beyond the Wave Duo, Theragun also has a single-ball Wave Solo and a cylindrical roller with a vibrating feature. You may think these devices are all the same, but they perform different functions depending on your specific pathology of pain and injury.
For the daily office warrior — which is almost all of us! — these high-tech devices and manual foam rollers can help alleviate workplace back and neck pains as we sit way too much each day.
“Pain is your teacher. It’s telling you, ‘Hey, it hurts! Don’t keep doing it!’” says Jenny Huang, senior physiotherapist at HelloPhysio. “We’re a proponent that when we feel pain, it’s our body’s way of telling us there’s an issue that we need to address.”
As with any device, whether manual or Bluetooth®-enabled, you can hurt yourself with improper use. Sometimes it feels so good that we just keep using it, but in actuality, you should pay close attention to dosage (a.k.a. strength and duration) and stop when indicated.
A time limit should be set to prevent overuse so that you don’t flare your condition even further. Luckily, this is where Theragun’s Wave Duo comes in handy, as it comes with a connected Therabody smart app that you can download to your phone to tell you the correct dosage for your condition.
The rule of thumb we share with patients at our clinic is that if you hurt yourself, and it’s still painful after two weeks, even with the use of sports rehab equipment at home, then you should schedule an appointment with a physiotherapist or doctor.
Massage Guns and Percussive Rehab Equipment
You’ve likely seen tons of home physiotherapy equipment in Singapore, from the ‘Pasar Malam’ type in the mall for $50, and higher-end sports massage guns like the Theragun or Hydrogun. However, there are several things to consider when deciding which model to purchase when it comes to percussive devices.
The first consideration is the ‘punching’ movement. By definition, percussive therapy works by how deep you can ‘punch’ through the aching muscle. With some massage guns like those less than $50 guns, you may feel great after using them, but in reality, it simply vibrates or reaches only superficial muscles versus being able to penetrate deep into your muscles to help them relax, becoming more pliable to improve circulation.
This is why at HelloPhysio’s rehab clinic, we use Theragun Pro, a smart percussive therapy massage gun. We also recommend it for sports therapy at home to our clients as the triangle grip handle is flexible and can be adjusted to different angles to reach anywhere on your body without causing further injury. You can hit those hard-to-reach spots without having to come into the clinic!
As with any home rehab medical equipment and physiotherapy product, people may move the percussive device around, hitting fleshy parts to bone where it can hurt. That’s where more pain isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you’re using the massage guns correctly, you can feel the difference immediately, whether it’s an improved range of motion or tension release. It shouldn’t cause more pain. And there are definitely areas where you don’t ever want to use a percussive instrument like Theragun Pro:
- Neck and head to prevent whiplash.
- Groin area where there are tons of nerve endings.
- Areas with acute bruising, like after a fresh sprain, as you need to give the body time to heal.
Theragun’s integrated Bluetooth® and the app can help guide you through a series of steps to help you determine when, where, and what dosage to use after conditions like knee replacement or hip rehab.
“Ergonomics, the ability to change the depth of the percussive gun as well as the speed, and whether it’s rechargeable and battery life are the main things I would consider when deciding which massage gun to purchase,” says Jenny.
Higher-end sports rehab devices have different attachments from more sharply-pointed and flatter heads and may come in smaller, more portable versions. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing how to use the extensions effectively.
For example, with the more pointed attachment, the idea is to hit the right trigger points to release the muscle, but you must first know where the trigger point is located. When it comes to a sprain or a plantar fascia condition, you don’t want to aim the device at the spot where the pain hurts, which is, to most, a natural inclination. Understanding the condition and getting a proper diagnosis are critical to prevent re-injury.
Any massage gun on the market may be alright for a general soothing massage. However, speak with a physiotherapist or knowledgeable healthcare practitioner for particular musculoskeletal conditions or soft tissue injuries when in doubt before use.
Benefits of the Portable FlexBeam Red Light Therapy Device
Red light therapy devices like LightStim Red Light Therapy MultiWave® bed at HelloPhysio were once only available in clinics. Now, as a fastly growing biohacking tool, smaller portable red light devices, like the FlexBeam belt, are available to consumers at home.
Red light therapy works slightly differently from rollers and massage guns, as the effects aren’t instantaneously felt or noticeable after the first use. Red light therapy uses infrared and near-infrared light diodes to noninvasively penetrate through the skin to work at the cellular level to reduce pain, boost collagen, stimulate blood flow, address mental conditions and improve sleep.
For most people, it works via a cumulative effect. Essentially, the technology quickens recovery and ‘hacks’ your body to improve its efficiency at the cellular level, enhancing the healing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that fuels our body at the cellular level.
“Red light affects the cells by allowing the mighty mitochondria to recycle energy production more efficiently and to give us that much-needed energy boost,” says Jenny. “If you create a ‘high-powered cellular engine’, everything else in your body essentially works better!”
Red light has been around for several decades, and there are a gazillion research papers about the benefits of red and low-level laser light therapy dating back to the beginnings of NASA astronauts. Today, doctors and other clinical medical teams use red light to treat everything from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to opioid addictions and transcranially, to estheticians who use the treatment to improve collagen synthesis and pigmentation on the skin.
It’s also found its way from Olympic athletes who use it to speed muscle recovery between intensive training, to the weekend workout warrior at home to reduce inflammation and pain. This is where the FlexBeam comes in if you can’t get to the bed at HelloPhysio’s clinic!
The basic idea of red light is that your body and the skin absorb a specific light wavelength that’s healing, much as if we were out in the sun getting our essential D vitamins and photons.
The portable device is like that caffeine hit for your cells in a transportable dosage form — similar to medicine, exercise or even a massage gun. With the FlexBeam, you can put it anywhere your body hurts, from your neck to your toes, and even on your face, to improve collagen and blood flow and reduce pesky aging wrinkles! It also makes one of the best rehab equipment for post-surgical conditions to help your rehab and heal faster.
Holiday Gifts of Electronic Wellness
If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season, why not give a gift of wellness and health? The following home medical physical therapy rehabilitation equipment are available at HelloPhysio:
If you’re a client and have an upcoming appointment at our rehab center in Singapore, simply ask one of our team members or your physiotherapist for more information.