Review: Powerdot Electrical Muscle Stimulator

I HAAAAAVVE THE POWWER!!!! (Sorry, could not help the He-Man reference)

I purchased a nifty new item based on some great feedback from some friends. The gear is the Powerdot Duo from Powerdot.com and I will say that I LOVE it!

So what is it? According to their site:

Powerdot uses electrical muscle stimulation to activate your muscle fibers so you can get stronger and recover faster. Use an app on your mobile phone to initiate and control your workouts. You select the muscle groups you want to target and an impulse is sent to the pods that causes your muscles to activate. It’s that simple.

Well, that does seem simple. Here is my thoughts after 2 weeks of heavy use.

Powerdot Duo

 

I purchased the Powerdot Duo directly from their website for $449 USD. The Duo has two pods and sets of pads so you can treat both sides of your body at the same time. The Uno is also available and has a single pod and set of pads.

The product arrived quickly and with free shipping (Even to me here in the Great White North which was great!). Packaging was pretty premium which seems to be the standard these days. A nicely designed box holding all the goodies including a nice travel case for the whole unit, two pods, two sets of pads (rectangular ones that hold the pod and round ones that the cables attach to), two sets of electrode cables and a set of USB charging cables. No charging brick is provided so you’ll need to plug them into something with USB ports).

 

Initial Setup

Before I get into setup, it is worth noting I have two daily use phones. One iPhone and one Android. Why is that important to note you ask? Because the experience of setup with them are vastly different. I initially tried the iPhone (a 5s) and the setup was super smooth. Launch the app, go to the devices tab and then turn them on via the single button on the pod. I was prompted with a brief confirmation to pair them and I was done. No issues, just connected and ready to zap.

On Android, the story was far different. While I don’t blame Powerdot fully as the Android Bluetooth situation is more complex than iOS, this was a Nexus 6p running Oreo 8.0 so a “pure” Android experience and should be best case scenario. It was, however, far from best case. I was (and still am) plagued with connection issues with Android. The pods either will not connect or hang on the activation step which requires them to be reset and try again. On the few occasions I have been able to connect them, they worked great afterwards.

The software is otherwise aligned between iOS and Android and very smooth. That said, these frustrations with connecting make it hard for me to recommend it for anyone who only has an Android device. I did reach out to Powerdot support and they were very responsive, even taking one of my app suggestions for improvement, but they did not have any magic solution to Android Bluetooth connection issues.

Once the pods are connected, you are ready to use the device. The provided pads snap onto the pods and cables easily adhere to the skin in the instructed locations.

“Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?”

 

 

Software

The app is very well designed and easy to use. On first launch you are given a slew of warnings about various misuses of the product. Including my favorite.

“Any Other Stupid Things”

 

Assuming your pods are connected, the main page shows the various use options available which are broken into two categories.

  • The Everyday Workout section provides various recovery, warm-up and massage options.
  • The Performance Workout section has strength and muscle endurance based workouts.

Both of these sections do a good job of breaking down the options for each mode into the recommended muscle groups for the type of workout (quick/slow twitch etc.) and outlines the purpose of the activity.

Once you select an activity, the wonderful part is it gives easy to follow placement diagrams to help you know where to put the pads. Additionally it gives guidance on how to position yourself during the treatment. Many say you can move freely, others say to sit down. I found out the hard way to listen to these Do’s and Don’ts as they call them after a bicep contraction caused me to punch myself fairly hard. The screen, had I looked at it, instructed I should have been sitting on my hands.

I found the whole process very easy to follow. Once into a session, there are adjustments available to increase or decrease the levels and other settings.

The only other slightly annoying item with the software was that in the duo, both pods are named the same. This means on the app, if you lose connection to one of them (does occasionally happen even on iOS) you need to guess which one you need to turn off and on. Guess wrong and you will now be re-pairing both and a minor annoyance becomes a treatment ended early.


Do or Do Not, There is no Try

 

Hardware

Having already covered the Bluetooth issues, I will focus on the physical hardware. The device is very well made, case is nice to have and fits nicely to allow for the portability you need in a device like this. The pads do wear out of course form sweat/dirt/lint and Powerdot says you need to replace them after roughly 30 uses. I have not hit that point to test it but have noticed that adhesion is not quite as good as it was at the beginning. I think two things will mean my pads will wear out faster than they may for others. First, I use this primarily after Crossfit WODs as a recovery tool. I have tried to towel dry the areas I am using it on but they do tend to still be sweaty/sweating. Secondly, for leg applications I have hairy legs. It means they do not adhere as well and I would guess will wear out faster due to that as well.

The pods are light and small, easy to use under clothes and come in either black or red. Overall I am happy with the build quality of the hardware but I do have a few minor issues with them. The plastic seems durable enough however I’ve noticed when pushing the on the button with some firmness, the plastic has some flex. This has not caused any issues but wonder if that will impact their long term durability. The other frustration I had was with their connection to the rectangular pads. I quickly learned you need to connect them first and then apply to your skin. The reason for this is that the power button is dead center on the top of the pod and the snap is dead center on the bottom. This is an issue because if you try to push the pod hard enough against squishy body parts to make it snap into the pad, you will almost certainly turn it off which could cause you connection issues even in iOS.

 

 

How well does it work?

Over the last two week my programming has been very squateriffic. The type of programming that will usually keep me in a constant state of horrible squat legs. During this time I have been using the Powerdot specifically on my quads, hamstrings, adductors and calves and using the recovery programs recommended by the app. Overall I have seen a noticeable decrease in muscle soreness and faster recovery. Not being as young as I once was, this is heavily appreciated as it actually allowed me to increase my weekly workload to an extra day per week. I have also used the massage options on my lower back, neck and shoulders a fair amount and while I am not sure it had a significant impact to my training, it feels darn nice and definitely helps with pain management.

 

Conclusion

The Powerdot is not a miracle device that will eliminate all muscle ache and stiffness but from my experience and the recommendations of several top CrossFit athletes, it is a great supplemental option to keeping your body recovering and ready for more.

The Good

  • iOS connectivity is seemless
  • Great app design guides users well
  • Improvement in recovery and endurance building
  • Reasonably price compared to others in this space
  • Free Shipping

The Bad

  • Android connectivity is terrible
  • Pad wear = replacement = could get expensive in the long run
  • Pod identification can be frustrating

For more information, check out the website for Powerdot or check out their fairly active Instagram feed.

https://www.powerdot.com/

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