Are you still hobbling around after last weeks squat session? Trouble sitting down and the thought of stairs makes you shudder? Although getting sore is a sure sign you have done enough work to promote an adaptation, if it is so bad that you can't get the next workout in, let alone get off the toilet, then you're missing the point. Maybe its time to rethink your recovery methods. Deep tissue or sports massage is the obvious answer but it might get pricey getting one of those each time you've beat yourself up. What can you do on your own to promote healing, decrease soreness and recover faster? Enter the Marc Pro. The name stands for Muscle Activated Recovery Cascade which describes where the benefit is derived. By placing electrodes on the skin the Marc Pro stimulates specific muscles to contract. Interested in how exactly this machine that makes your muscles jumps actually works? We use the Marc Pro at Engineered Per4mance for a few benefits worth talking about.
1. increase lymphatic drainage
The lymphatic system is an unbelievable network of what may be analogous to a sewer system. It is made up of many passive tubes filled with lymph, which is a clear fluid picked up from the interstitial spaces in the body. In simplest terms, the lymphatic system picks up what is left behind and returns it to the blood stream. It would be remiss to write of the lymphatic system and not mention its vital immune component. The lymph will pick up bacteria found throughout the body and return it to lymph nodes where it is fought. Remember the doctor checking underneath your chin or at the base of your neck? Those are some lymph nodes and checking if they are swollen is a sure sign that your body is fighting an infection. With all of that said let me repeat something very important to recovery, the tubes of the lymphatic system are PASSIVE. They do not have smooth muscle lining the walls. They do resemble veins more than arteries in that they have valves preventing back flow, but nothing to push the lymphatic fluid forward. So when there is gunk building up, maybe after a hard workout, the excess fluid is picked up through lymphatic capillaries but then it sits until movement is introduced. By actively contracting the muscle that surrounds the lymphatic vessel you squeeze the fluid and because the valves will prevent them from going backwards it goes forward, toward recirculation. The only way to move the excess fluid is through muscle activation or other mechanical mechanism including massage or instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization.
2. Myokine release
This point is where the magic lies for the Marc Pro and separates itself from the other recovery methods. Skleteal muscle contraction has been shown to stimulate the release of myokines from the muscle itself. The broad depth of skeletal muscle acting as an endocrine organ has just recently started to be appreciated and this is one to investigate. Myokines are a polypeptide neurocommunicator, in essence they are the cells way of communicating with other cells. Their release after muscle contraction has been shown to promote muscle hypertrophy and muscle regeneration processes. Further, the Marc Pro stimulates continuous moderate intensity contraction of the skeletal muscle which has been shown to be superior in myokine production and subsequent blood concentration than short lived high intensity contraction.
3. increase local circulation
When you use a muscle consistently the body responds by increasing local circulation through vasodilation (making the existing vessels wider), and even angiogenesis (increasing the number of vessels in the area). This increased local circulation helps bring nutrients to the area faster and more efficiently. More groceries in, more garbage out.
4. Promotes healing in the proper direction
We use the Marc Pro for this purpose in our rehab setting but it is certainly worth talking about as a benefit. When injury and swelling occur, your body responds by laying down scar tissue. That tissue is there as a patch and is laid almost haphazardly in each direction like a ball of yarn. The collagen fibers that are optimally aligned are those that are most useful to the body. To weed out those that are not you need to contract the muscle! This contraction strengthens those fibers that are aligned in the proper vector and weakens and eventually discards those that are not. The Marc Pro allows muscle contraction even if full range of motion may be painful at some point in your recovery. This speeds the healing process so that you come back with a stronger foundation of new tissue.
These are just a few of the benefits we see at EP from the Marc Pro. Tell us if you notice other benefits? What does your recovery look like? We encourage you to look into your recovery methods, after all, that is where the growth happens. Check out their site if you are interested in purchasing your own unit or ask the front desk about grabbing a MarcPro session after a workout and fully recover for the next one.