Finding the Optimal Microcurrent Dose
One of the biggest advantages related to the advances being achieved in wearable technologies today is the possibility to create your own “optimal” dosing of some treatments without interfering in daily activities.
The PainPod M is one of the best examples of how wearable technologies can be applied to daily tasks.
Basics of microcurrent electrical stimulation
When talking about microcurrent stimulation we refer to any type of stimulation in which the application of the current is below 1 milliamp with a pulse frequency between 0.1 to 400 Hz.
In respect to macrocurrent EMS stimulation, which occurs with an electrical current of above 1 milliamp with a frequency between 50-120 Hz, it is aimed to stimulate muscle fiber recruitment to elicit a neuromuscular adaptation response, microcurrent stimulation is able to produce a biochemical responses in terms of restoration of substrates and normalisation of biological aspects of tissues.
In general terms, the main difference between the two lies in the fact that whereas macrocurrent acts as a source of biological stressor, microcurrent acts as a form of restoration and biological repair.
What the research says
The body of research in the field of microcurrent stimulation is focused on the effects on cellular and subcellular processes; it seems that microcurrent stimulation could have the potential to enhance both electrical and chemical processes associated with normalisation of damaged tissues.
This is probably due to an increase in ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production and the restoration of the potential of cell membrane to normal potential (Cho et al. 2007).
A study from Kang et al. (2015) showed significant changes in markers of muscle fatigue as well as a decrease in muscle tone after microcurrent applications, suggesting a positive effect on decreasing cumulative muscle fatigue.
The alteration in muscle tone, defined as the tension at cellular level, as well as the blood supply restriction, seems to get normalized by the flow of bioelectricity which promotes the restoration of homeostatic condition in the cells through reduction in resistance of tissues (Weber et al. 1994).
An increase in blood circulation after microcurrent application has also been suggested by a study from Park et al. (2001), and still there is a lot of quality research to do in order to understand mechanisms and explore further applications.
Practical applications and protocols with athletes
Practical experience as well as evidence suggests that microcurrent stimulation is best suited for long-cycle applications and this is where wearable technologies can help us at their best.
Athletes today need to be well-educated about lifestyle and recovery and how to manage them both, especially during travel and competition weeks, where their bodies are being exposed to high levels of physical and emotional overload.
My preferred applications of the PainPod M with athletes are during long travel and at night during sleep. Protocols are simple and consistency of use is key in this case.
PainPod M application during travel
Professional athletes competing at international meetings are constantly exposed to high amounts of stress and strains due to changes and disruptions in physiology and cellular biology that occur during flights. Changes in barometric pressure, with an average cabin oxygen pressure of 5.000 to 6.000 feet, lead to an hypoxic stress, reduction in the partial pressure of alveolar oxygen and drop in arterial oxygen pressure; also, a “lethargic limbs” effect can occur as a consequence of prolonged sitting.
Leatherwood and Dragoo (2013) did an interesting review on the effect of airline travel on athletic performance.
Applying a PainPod M over each calf muscle during flights can provide support for circulation and normalisation of cellular function with no need to change settings and timing thanks to the long-cycle application (up to 10 hours of continuous work).
PainPod M application during sleep
Another useful microcurrent application with the PainPod M is at night during sleep, again by taking advantage of the long-cycle application.
I prefer to use the PainPod M at night only on training days (not recovery days) involving strength/power and speed sessions, to facilitate and enhance the adaptation process by providing soft tissues with bioelectricity to restore and promote proper cellular and subcellular function. Practical experience suggests that the best way to use it is by a local application over specific soft tissues, especially over quadriceps and hamstring muscles.
PainPod BioTechnology advisory board - Head of Sports & Technical Science. International Sports Performance consultant
Home Nation: Italy / Sport: Multiple / Date Joined: 2017
Antonio is a widely sought after International Sports Performance Consultant & Applied Sports Technologist. He works around the world with Olympic athletes and professional sports teams in Europe, Asia and the USA. He is a prominent speaker and contributor to international sports magazines including Athletics Weekly.
His area of expertise includes injury prevention, sports technology, strength training programming, speed development and recovery monitoring. He works with advanced technologies in the field of performance monitoring, injury prevention and improved performance that includes infrared thermography, foot pressure mapping, myotonometry and tensiomyography
A regular speaker and lecturer at International Sports Science conferences, he is currently writing ‘Sports Biometry: application of technology for Sports Science’.