Behold…. the PowerDot 2.0 Muscle Stimulator. (Received free for purpose of review.) I could say it’s a smart TENS device, but it really feels like so much more. At it’s base, it is a muscle stimulation device that changes intensity levels. But the fact that it uses an app to control it and that app has a bunch of program options to assist with chronic pain to performance enhancements. We’ll get to that in a moment.
I received the UNO, which means it has one pod. The pod is the part that controls sending the stimulation currents to the pads. They also sell a DUO version that has two pods, so you could run a stimulation program on both of your calves at the same time.
It comes with the pod, connecting cables of two different lengths, a charging cable, a pack of pads, and a zipper carrying case to keep it all together. The instruction manual features a lot of intimidating photos of really buff people with the pads/pod connected on various body parts, from the neck down to the bottoms of feet.
I had a night where my calf kept cramping up and keeping me awake. So I put the PowerDot on it in the morning and ran it through a session. You can control the intensity level right from the app (which is available on iOS or Android) to meet your custom needs.
The pads should last 25-30 uses, or even more depending on how oily your skin is or how much lint you may have picked up on them while placing them. The nice thing is the app tells you roughly how many uses you should have left in them. A replacement pack of pads sells for $18.
I am also chronically knotted up in my neck and trapezoids. I was excited to try this on those areas. I went into the app and chose to do a custom TENS program on my traps. I feel compelled to tell you that I found it really difficult to get the pads on my traps myself. The first try I ended up placing them so they overlapped one another. It didn’t seem like it would be hard, but it could be that I’m uncoordinated? But once I finally got them on and started my 20 minute program, we were in business. My muscles were twitching and pulsing away and at the end of the session they felt somewhat better. Of course, the pain was back the next day so one use on that spot wasn’t a magic cure-all! Maybe with regular use over time?
That said, who has time for regular use on one spot when they’re trying to review the product? I hooked the pads to a few different spots to test out how it feels. Some spots can take more stimulation and others I need to tap out at about level 6.
Traditional TENS units have a simple controller that lets you increase/decrease the intensity levels and that’s basically it. The PowerDot app is pretty impressive. On the dashboard (once you’ve registered your device and set it all up) it gives you several different options to start your programs.
- TENS/Pain Relief
- Focus On
The PowerDot Performance programs are kind of like workouts and they recommend beginning users do them once or twice a week and increase use with experience.
These help you target specific areas of the body and then customize the session duration and what type of program you’re hoping to get. It starts off with a long list of body parts, then you choose if you want a refreshing massage, a low-frequency massage with 7 phases, or multiple phase massage with several frequency modulated phases.
The TENS/Pain Relief portion lets you create a program that you can use to track your progress/improvement in pain over time. Like the Wellness area you start off choosing an area, but once you’ve chosen the body part you are targeting it then delves into your pain levels and tries to help you identify the cause too. It’s even smart enough to change the cause possibilities based on the body part you chose. You choose your pain level from 0-10 and it builds you a program. Once you complete a session it asks you to rate your pain level and it stores that in the PowerDot app, so you can see if it is helping.
The Focus On section isn’t one that I’ve really played with yet, except for looking at it all. But let’s say I went for a long ru and wanted to run a session on my calves. I choose my focus area then it lets me choose if I’m looking for Active Recovery, Extended Recovery, Light Recovery, Massage, Warm-Up/Potentiation. (It also offers an option for Long Haul Flight, but you have to have the DUO for that, so I can’t even look at that one yet.) After you’ve chosen an option, it has you decide which side you’re starting with (left or right) and then you can start the session.
The PowerDot UNO sells for $199. The PowerDot DUO sells for $349. If you buy the PowerDot DUO from the official site, as of this posting they have a special where you can get it for $349, plus you get 3 extra packs of the pads. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with the purchase.
I had a cheap TENS device that I got years ago. I think I picked it up at a race expo or something. I liked using it, but once the pads lost all stickiness I couldn’t replace them. The manufacturer didn’t stay in business long enough to sell replacements and when I tried buying some other brand pads I found, they didn’t work at all. Plus the actual control unit had to be taped closed so the batteries maintained contact and would work. (See, it was really cheap!) Also, I was never quite certain if I was using it properly.
The PowerDot is rechargeable via USB so you don’t have that worry. Plus it comes with a significant amount of info in both the manual and the app that you have more information on how to use it correctly.
So far, my only complaints are two:
- The foil pack to hold the pads is slightly too big to fit into the carrying case. I wish the case was just a little bigger to actually hold the pads too. Then you could zip everything together and make sure you have all the parts together. Maybe even keep the instruction manual zipped in there. (Or just rely on the app, I don’t feel that is as essential as the storage for pads.)
- Sliding the pads back into the foil pouch for storage has sometimes caught the pads and folded them, so the sticky side is exposed to the pouch inside. It just makes me worry that it is shortening the life of the pads. Maybe I’m not supposed to slide it back into the foil pouch after I start using a sheet of the pads?
But overall, this is definitely the electro-muscle stimulation of the future, way cooler than those rickety old devices I’ve tried in the past!