Half marathon much? Until this past weekend, my answer would have been a firm no. After running more than 15 halfs in 5 years, I had become sidelined due to a severe injury. Gratefully the Southampton Half Marathon ended that woeful 2-year streak, but not without some, “oh, I remember what this feels like” moments! As predicted, the receipt of my new Avail TENS unit was timed perfectly. Allow me to share my Runners’ Guide to TENS Therapy.
Omron sponsored this post. I received compensation and an Omron Avail wireless TENS device for the purpose of this review. All stated thoughts and opinions are my personal and professional impressions of this product. (And always ethical!)
I have previously written about the Top PT Tips for runner injury prevention, However, runners know that sometimes we push our bodies a bit too far. Though other modalities may be considered for pain-relief, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be an unknown to many.
Runners’ Guide to Pain and TENS Therapy
Omron Avail is a wireless, independent dual channel FDA-cleared TENS unit that delivers effective TENS technology and microcurrent therapy to alleviate acute and chronic muscle and/or joint pain. Portable and powerful, TENS electrotherapy provides drug-free pain relief for sore or aching muscles of the lower back, shoulder, arm, leg and more. Despite this therapy’s decades-long use by physical therapists and chiropractors, it is only recently that it has become available for home use. Great news Avail!
Through ten pre-programmed Pain and Massage Modes and twenty intensity levels, treatment is completely customizable. Additionally, the Avail two-channel system allows for treatment of two areas at once. (For me, that meant simultaneous lower back and quadriceps therapy, each with its own treatment type!)
Readers may be familiar with my ultimate klutz maneuver from last year, and the resultant pelvic and sacral fracture. Naturally, I expected some residual pain after this, my first half marathon since. I eagerly used the “Pain Mode” setting on my sacroiliac region. (Stay tuned for a full review of TENS for lower back pain next week.) With six modes to choose from- lower back, shoulder, joint, arm, leg, and microcurrent- these functions are pre-set to treat pain symptoms. Refer to last week’s post on the mechanism of action (TENS Therapy Spotlighted During Pain Awareness Month), but essentially TENS therapy blocks the pain messages to the brain, stimulates the release of endorphins, and increases circulation to the targeted area.
My quads? Knee pain? They were another story. In a 2018 issue of Antioxidants, delayed-onset muscle soreness is described as internal and external muscle damage initiated by exhaustive or unaccustomed exercise. The accompanying symptoms typically peak at 24 to 72 hours post activity and resolve in 5 to 10 days. As most runners will attest, that week can feel very loooong indeed.
Because this device is intended for the use of pain associated with sore or aching muscles of the lower back, arms, legs, shoulders, or feet due to strain from exercise, this runner was chomping to test its efficacy. With four “massage” modes- steady, knead, tap, and acupuncture-like, I felt like a runner in a running store! The day after the race (yes, that famed 24-hour mark), I started with the constant mode on a low intensity setting. Because there are TWENTY intensity settings, this allows for a slow and steady increase of stimulation as one accommodates to the sensation. As I acclimated, I advanced the unit to the knead mode. Fabulous. It felt like a walking massage! Any runner worth their salt tablets knows that being sedentary only impedes healing.
I applied the TENS therapy for 30-minute intervals. The maximum suggested treatment time is 60 minutes. It is also advised that you receive three treatments max daily with this form of current.
Unboxing and Avail TENS Inspection
Take a closer look at the Omron Avail TENS units.
Both modes gave me good relief- both in their own way. My quad soreness resolved in just two days (a record for me). You can bet that I will be using the unit again after my Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon in two weeks. I continue to utilize the Avail TENS daily on my sacroliliac areas bilaterally. Stay tuned for my focused post on lower back pain next week. Experiencing a greater freedom of pain-free movement in the shortest period of time was the biggest benefit I experienced when using Avail TENS.
For me, any Runners’ Guide to Pain should absolutely include TENS therapy.