I have found that as I have progressed to become a more experienced CrossFitter, sports massages and foam rolling have become a part of training to ensure longevity and performance. I have recently upped my training volume, and my muscles just weren’t recovering. I needed something which allowed my muscles to recover faster so I could train harder more often. A couple of people at my gym had a Compex Electrical Muscle Stimulation device and recommended it, so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about.
I lost my Compex virginity at The Athlete Games in 2016. I was spectating, and Compex had a stall at the competition where you could try it out, so between heats I jumped on for a 20-minute recovery programme. I had sore shoulders from training that week and so had it positioned on my traps and around my shoulders. Wow, I had found a new way to recover! At first, the muscle twitching and electronic stimulation felt strange, but after a while, I got used to it, and it started to feel much like that of a sports massage. I then proceeded to ask them the price of this device to which their reply was ‘£849.99’ (now £699.99) for the Compex SP 8.0 which I had just used. How much? After the treatment I gave them the device back and thought to myself I am never going to buy one of them it’s not worth that much.
Ease of use
Over a year later here, I have a Compex SP 6.0 and am using it regularly alongside training to try and minimise recovery and results. I was sceptical about getting one at first, but after some good recommendations from other CrossFit athletes, I decided to take the plunge and get one. To be fair everything which they recommended about the Compex is true. It’s super easy to use and gives clear on-screen instructions of how to set up the pads on your body and then a step by step guide of how to make it work. There are also loads of online resources on the Compex website and Youtube for anything you are not sure about which I found useful. Getting the sticky electrode pads from their base is the hardest thing to do. These are so sticky, but once you get the peeling technique, the struggle becomes easier. Packing away and charging the Compex is also easy as it comes with its stage box which plugs in and charges the wireless modules ready for the next use. This plugs into the mains and charges the device and electrodes. The only thing missing is a secure travel case for the device. The charging station is great but doesn’t secure the device as there is not a closing mechanism.
I wanted to ensure that my device had the muscle intelligence (MI) technology included, as this allows the Compex Stimulators to adapt to each muscle to provide the most effective electro-stimulation. The MI-Scan automatically adjusts the Compex device to parameters of your physiology and indicates the optimal level to use for recovery and massage programs. This ensures you don’t have the stimulation too high, which could cause injury.
Within the SP 6.0 model, you get conditioning, recovery/massage, pain management, rehabilitation and fitness settings. I have only used the recovery and pain management settings more than a couple of times and recommend these. For me, the recovery settings have given me post training and competition recovery, which has reduced muscle soreness. The pain management setting I have only used on my knees thus far, and this helped reduce muscle tension around the problem area, while also relieving the pain.
Does it work?
For me, the Compex SP 6.0 is great if you manage to position the electrodes on the right area which you are addressing. From following the instructions on the device and online, I would often get this wrong. I would place the electrode where instructions stated, but everyone’s muscles and bodies are different and so found it hard to get it right the first time. Sometimes I wouldn’t feel the benefits, and sometimes the recommended setting was way too high causing pain. After a few times using the Compex SP 6.0, I worked out where to align the electrodes on problem areas for the bet results.
One of the biggest problems I have faced is trying to use the Compex on my back and hard to see areas. This 100% requires help, as I discovered the hard way. I tried to align the electrodes myself and ended up with 20+ minutes of no recovery what so ever due to misplacement. Ensure that someone helps you position the Compex device to avoid wasting time and potentially injury.
Now I am using the Compex more often I am reaping the rewards of decreasing recovery time and improving my performances. At the start, I was questioning the device, but now I understand it’s capabilities and how to use it properly. I recommend it to any serious athlete wanting to be able to push their bodies harder and achieve better results.
I train for 2-3 hours per day 5 days a week on a CrossFit programme and am finding it beneficial. In the long run I know it’s going to save me money not paying for sports massage and physiotherapy, so take the plunge.
To me, it’s magical, not mythical.