Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General Marc Pro – Anyone know how this works vs. a TENS unit?

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    • #70540
      understand that the TENS unit is primarily used to treat pain – but it
      does cause muscular contractions when the intensity is increased.

      I’d like to know more details about the “specific muscle contractions” the Marc Pro produces vs. the TENS unit contractions. The Marc Pro website says that these “specific contractions” “activate a cascading series of physiological effects.” I have no doubt this is true – but I’m a little stumped on the “specific contractions” mentioned.

      I only know of 3 contraction types – concentric, eccentric, and
      isometric. Are there additional types that the Marc Pro produces? Which
      does the Marc Pro produce that the TENS unit does not.  Based on the video’s I’ve seen of people using the device, it looks like these are concentric contractions – which I thought were the same kind that a TENS unit causes.
      Thanks in advance for the info!
    • #73036

      Have you asked Marc Pro your question?
      The type of muscle contraction is 1 factor.
      The distinguishing factor is how the body responds to the contraction which can vary significantly.
      From the Marc Pro site “the Marc Pro device employs a proprietary dynamic decaying waveform. his type of signal comfortably contracts muscles and then slowly
      releases them over a period of time. Muscle fibers are allowed to
      properly relax, and fluids are moved in and out of the area without
      causing fatigue to the muscle.”

    • #73043

      I have asked them – no response yet. 

      It’s interesting that they say “slowly releases them over a period of time.” All the video’s I’ve seen of the Marc Pro in action don’t seem to release the muscles slowly. The contractions seem to “look” the same as those created with a TENS unit. These are the things that spark some questions and have started myself and a few friends thinking about the detailed differences.

      It’s probably more than we need to know – but we’re geeks in multiple senses; numbers, statistics, physics, biology and physiology. So we enjoy learning this kind of stuff- especially when it involves investing a lot of money. We don’t mind doing it, we just want to know all the in’s and out’s before purchases near the $1k mark start to happen.

      I’ll be sure to post any response I get from them on here.

    • #73061

      Here’s the response I got from Marc Pro –

      Looks like you might be able to get the same results from a TENS unit – depending on the settings available on it.

      TENS device is typically used at higher frequencies where a constant
      “buzzing” feeling is delivered as opposed to individual muscle
      contractions. That is desirable for the cleared indications of a TENS
      device. Depending on the device it is
      to lower the frequency to a point where “pumping type” muscle
      contractions might be obtained. To move nourishment and waste, you
      definitely want muscle pumping (though as you point out that is not an
      indication of TENS devices).

      TENS devices have various technical limitations, but there are some
      commonalities. Because of the very basic square (on or off) waveform, it
      is common for the signal to get quite uncomfortable when turned very
      high; and without turning it very high the contractions are not strong
      enough to move a significant amount of nourishment and waste. Again we
      don’t blame the TENS devices; they were not intended to be muscle
      stimulators. The higher voltage and harsher signal typically created by a
      TENS will often start to cause muscle fatigue after extended periods of
      use. This is also common with many cleared muscled stimulators. This is
      not a problem when trying to tone or re-educate muscles (which is the
      most common use of muscle stimulators); however, fatigue is obviously
      contradictory to the recovery goals of Marc Pro.

      stated, what makes Marc Pro’s technology unique is that we’re able to
      get a muscle contraction that is as strong and typically stronger than
      any other TENS or cleared muscle stimulator, but do so without causing
      any fatigue to the muscle. This makes us poor at trying to build muscle
      (what other products often try to do, but we don’t believe in much), but
      makes us really good at recovery. Our unique waveform, lower voltages,
      lower frequencies and very long pulse duration all contribute to this
      strong, yet non-fatiguing contraction. Check out the “Marc Pro
      Technology and How It Is Different” tab on the following page of our
      website to read some more details:

      If you have any further questions, feel free to email us at [email protected]

    • #73070

      Some additional information from Gary Reinl of Marc Pro:
      Since all
      muscles contractions essentially “look” the same (the muscle contracts)
      … your observation that the contractions produced by a MARC PRO unit
      look the same as contractions produced by TENS unit is correct.
      In fact, if you have ever been shocked by a faulty electrically wire in
      your home … the contraction produced by that encounter would also
      “look” the same. That said, the contraction produced
      by that faulty wire (or a TENS) would not “feel” the
      same. Additionally, if you continued
      “shocking” yourself with that faulty wire (or a TENS)
      you would eventually fatigue/damage the involved muscle. My point is
      this; if you want to fatigue a muscle, MARC PRO is the wrong tool. MARC
      PRO will not fatigue your muscle (instead, it will facilitate and
      enhance muscle performance and recovery). 

      Important additional point, since TENS is
      not designed (or cleared by the FDA) to facilitate and enhance
      muscle performance and recovery and MARC PRO is, it is unfair to compare
      results between the two devices (TENS is a pain management
      device not a muscle performance/recovery device). 

      Peruse the following related
      article that I and others wrote for the Journal of Exercise Physiology: 

    • #73071

      Nice! Thanks Kaitlin.

      I love that there are people out there starting to research these kinds of things.

      I know there’s always a huge shock to the community when you deliver a statement such as “don’t use ice for inflammation/injuries”. But having products like this with extensive research to back it up is exactly what people need, especially when there is no research supporting the “norm” or standard protocols that we’ve all always done – like icing.

    • #73079

      Another resource is Gary’s new book Iced  http://tinyurl.com/pzu6tea

    • #75338
      AvatarBen Quackenbush

      Love the Marc Pro Unit. I am a weightlifter and it does a great job of helping me recover by essentially moving all the “junk” from my muscles so that I am not as fatigued. Did you end up buying the unit?

    • #75372

      I did end up buying it. Honestly though, I’m not completely sold that it helps. 

      It may help, but I just can’t really tell a difference. However I’m still struggling through some knee issues on the right side. Medial patella tendon still seems to get pretty beat up when I play volleyball. I’ve done all kinds of mobility work and strengthening to help it with a lot of improvement over that past year – but I think I really need to start focusing on plyo-training and making sure I have solid technique when I jump and land. 
      Even though I have the mobility and strength to jump and land properly, I have a feeling my old bad biomechanics are taking over in the middle of game situations and my tendon takes the fall for it. 🙁
    • #75373

      Have you tried different pad placements?
      Shifting the pads a little can make a big difference on the contraction.
      Are you using it in long enough periods of time?
      Yes, having someone take a look at your jumping and landing is an important part.
      Going back and doing drill/skill work makes a big difference its about quality movement patterns.
      Doesn’t sound like a mobility/strength issue.
      Technique work is huge get video taped or watch a tape of a game.
      Seeing it is key. You see exactly what is happening vs what you think is happening.
      Its great.

    • #75614
      AvatarDonald Mccutcheon

      a TENS machine is for pain which means it tries to bypass the muscle and treat the nerves as opposed to a muscle simulator which deals with the muscle

    • #75615

      I have tried to adjust pad placements, and I bought some of the gel which made a big difference. 

      Definitely using it for plenty of time.

      I’ve done some recording of my jumping and shared with my PT’s here in town – they really didn’t seem to be able to help. Unfortunately most of my recovery has been due to me taking up physiology and biomechanics as a hobby and then implementing what I learn in my training, my competition, and when I do yoga.

      I really wish this town had better movement specialists – but I’m stuck relying on friendly professionals out of state that don’t mind talking through this stuff with me.

    • #75616

      Also, I wish there were better resources for the Marc Pro.

      Especially when it comes to different pad placements and experimentation. Haven’t seen a whole lot on youtube, and the marc pro website is pretty limited from what I could tell a couple months ago.

    • #75617

      Have you been on the how to use section of their website?
      Some parts have a new design with more coming.
      Marc Pro Plus protocols will be posted shortly.
      They have different pad placements, combos, single focus, time efficient placements, alternative placements, and some tips/placements from cyclists they work with, and videos with placements and what the contraction will look like.
      Marc Pro has a distinct waveform and pulse duration so there isn’t multiple programs that require different pad placements. More info here http://marcpro.com/technology/
      I know they have posted pdf placements on social media, videos are on vimeo not youtube hitting the site is the best option on those. Some athletes post on their personal pages.

      Is there a specific placement you are looking for or looking for additional options for?
      Feel free to let me know any questions you have on placements etc and I’m glad to help.
      My email is [email protected]

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