PowerDot Review | 2.0 Thumper Theragun Comparison

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PowerDot Review 2.0

PowerDot Review | 2.0 Theragun ThumperFor this PowerDot Review, I took a detailed look at their Gen 2 electrical muscle stimulator with a view to getting a good handle on just how good it was at improving athletic RECOVERY, relieving pain and injury prevention. There are also claims that these kinds of products can Improve Performance, although I’m sceptical of that specific claim across these kinds of product types. Putting that specific concern to one side I was generally impressed with how well PowerDot seemed to work and the wealth of functionality on the app was truly impressive.

Let’s start out with the summary and some pros, cons and the discount code. If you came here for more details then please page down further for a longer read.

PowerDot Review 2.0
  • Price - 80%
    80%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 95%
    95%
  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
    90%
  • Features, Including App - 95%
    95%
90%

PowerDot Review | 2.0 Version

PowerDot Review | 2.0 Theragun ThumperPowerDot is so much more than ‘just another TENS machine’.

It’s a well-designed and well-made TENS/NMES product that more than met my expectations when it came to generally how easy it is to use. Certainly, what impressed me was the app which is WAY more than a simple remote control for the pads. The PowerDot app walks you through usages on different muscle groups and can build a program for your specific needs, be they muscular endurance, strength, pain relief or recovery and which all can cover multiple muscle groups in one program. As well as tracking your level during each muscle ‘workout’, subjective measurements of how you felt pain relief worked are also tracked over time.

I have the DUO version which has two sets of pads which can be used simultaneously and hence they are a great time-saver.

There are few serious downsides. Sure it’s not super-cheap (discount below!!), although I would say it is fairly priced for what it is and I  imagine your physio bills are WAY more expensive and time-consuming. I would have initially liked more confidence in understanding the exact pad placement on my body but once I’d figured that out the only recurring downside would be the cost of the replacement pads. However, with a dose of personal hygiene and handling the pads with care to keep them clean I found they are still going strong as they approach the end of their theoretical 20 hours lifespan.

 

Pros

  • Small, easily-transportable product
  • Long battery life and easily recharged
  • FDA approved
  • An impressive app which builds a program for you and logs your detailed usage
  • Different stimulation frequencies, intensities and combinations are used – seemingly far superior to anything I’d previously encountered
  • Intensity levels would go beyond what I could bear if needed.
  • You can have PowerDot working for 30 minutes under clothes whilst doing something else.

Cons

  • Pad placement positions can be difficult to copy from the app or accompanying booklet
  • Affixing to back and shoulders requires help
  • Occasionally wouldn’t pair (iOS – restart the phone)
  • The pads are fairly longlasting but require periodic repeat purchases
  • There is a total 5 minute time cost to putting the pads on and taking them off at the end.

 

PowerDot Review – In Detail

You came for some details, let’s go!

Background

Generally, this is a confusing product area with lots of competing products and some of them making unsubstantiated claims. Some are FDA approved, some are not. Some blind you with acronyms and pseudo-science, others distract you with beautiful & muscularly-athletic bodies donning perfectly placed products on perfectly tanned skin.

Specifically for me, the bottom line is that I’ve had physios successfully work on me with electrical stimulation FOR YEARS and I also know several women who have used electrical TENS machines successfully for pain management during childbirth. I’m sure we’ve also all had manual muscle stimulation from a physio and I’ve also recently been impressed with what manual percussive massagers can add to recovery – specifically with my Thumper Mini Pro Review. So that all seemed like a good place to start with PowerDot…it should work. But does it?…

PowerDot: TENS vs NMES

PowerDot uses both TENS & NMES.


Let’s cut to the chase with the jargon. You really only need to understand those two acronyms

  • NMES – (Neuro-)Muscular Electrical Stimulation uses a device that sends electrical impulses to nerves. This input causes muscles to contract. The electrical stimulation can increase strength and range of motion and offset the effects of disuse.
  • TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.

Sources: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & nhs.uk

These definitions sound similar to me! Apparently, NMES uses higher frequency electrical signals and is specifically targetting the muscle, whereas TENS is aiming to distract the brain from pain and to stimulate the release of pain-mitigating endorphins.

PowerDot claims that high-level athletes use and accept NMES alongside training to speed up recovery by lactic acid flushing and increasing blood oxygenation.

PowerDot also claims that their ‘smart’ NMES programs controlled by their app cause muscle contractions and stimulate both Type I and Type II muscle fibres and which can potentially increase the number of muscles fibres recruited so boosting muscular strength and muscular endurance as well as reducing the risk of injury and shortening recovery times.

That all sounds great to me. The truth was in the testing…

PowerDot Product Format

You can get sucked into a Google-induced abyss full of apparently similar products when looking for TENS/NMES devices. There are large bed-sized units that wouldn’t look out-of-place in an ER, there are products that are NOT FDA approved and other products that combine acupuncture needles with electrical stimulation. A similar-looking product that I stumbled across was MyOpux but there are many other weird and wonderful alternatives too.

Putting all that to one side, the PowerDot app+electrode+pad approach seemed very sensible and what stood out positively for me with the PowerDot was this

  • Small, easily-transportable product
  • Sufficiently long battery life and easily recharged
  • FDA approved
  • Bespoke, tailored programs just for you and your specific needs
    • Varied levels of muscular stimulation patterns defined and controlled by a smartphone app.
    • Guided, app-based programs that take out some of the confusion about which areas to target and for what purpose (eg muscular endurance vs recovery)

PowerDot Review Comparison to Percussive Thumpers

In my mind, the use cases for TENS/NMES products overlap with those of the in-vogue percussive massagers.

I like my Thumper Mini Pro in that I can just jump onto my bed and it’s already there plugged in and immediately ready to go. It beats the PowerDot in that respect but neither the PowerDot nor the Thumper can get to those hard to reach places on my back, although I would say that the PowerDot is better on the shoulders than the Thumper and better around more bony parts of my body. Plus, once someone has placed the PowerDot pads on my back THEY can go off and do something else..unlike with the Thumper/Theragun.

One other downside of a Thumper or Theragun is that, for example, once you’ve done one calf muscle you might then have to then repeat the whole process for your other calf muscle. PowerDot can simultaneously work on two separate muscle groups, so can half the time in those kinds of examples, at least if you have the DUO version of PowerDot it can.

Whilst Thumper/Theragun and PowerDot all let you do something else at the same time, the percussive massagers essentially require you to hold the device. So you could listen to the radio or some music with a Thumper/Theragun but with PowerDot you could literally sit at your desk at work and type away with both hands-free. Sure, you’d have to be discrete if there was someone there with you as you might start vibrating in public; which could get interesting 🙂 Life’s too short for boring, though…right? 🙂

PowerDot – Who it’s for

The flexibility of the kinds of treatment that PowerDot delivers means that it has highly appropriate use-cases for a large range of people from those of you who need to treat arthritis through to ‘proper’ athletes wanting to boost recovery and wannabe athletes, like me, who perhaps want to avoid some of the costs of a regular physio by self-treating niggles and boosting recovery. A physio session once a week could also achieve that but it simply would be too expensive to justify for me.

PowerDot – What are the applications?

There are a surprisingly number of applications and uses for PowerDot.

Longer Performance Workouts covering all level of user from beginner (21 minutes) through to Expert (53 minutes) which can be tailored to focus on these goals

  • Muscle endurance,
  • Strength Endurance
  • Resistance
  • Strength
  • Explosive Strength

Then there are Wellness options covering covering

  • Specific muscle groups

and which offer the ability to tailor your session duration (10-60 minutes) and multiple phases of multiple frequencies of stimulation.

I was especially interested in Smart Pain Relief targetting specific muslce groups and addressing

  • Chronic pain
  • Acute Pain
  • Joint Pain

for inflamation or infection. That could be related to post-op, tendinopathy, arthritis (rheumatoid- and osteo-), arthralgia and others.

Smart Recovery was also great for the wannabe athlete in me, again this targets specific muscles groups that are selected from those used in your last exercise eg running muscle groups. you then say what level of intensity of running (eg) workout you’ve just completed, choose the duration of the PowerDot workout and off you go.

Techy Point: PowerDot could get really clever here and link to, say, my last STRAVA or Garmin workout and then automatically recommend an entire workout for me. That borders on ‘tech too far’ but I thought it was a nice idea!

Finally, there is a specific muscle group focus where you can specify

  • Active recovery
  • Extended Recovery
  • Light Recovery
  • Massage or
  • Warmup/Protection

PowerDot Review – My Experience

PowerDot Review – Unboxing

Apart from the free app, you get the physical PowerDot which is a nicely packaged and presented product that comes with a protective carry case.

The UNO model has one set of pads and, you guessed it, the DUO has two sets. Each set is available in RED or BLACK and has the following

  • Charging and control POD – this is what you turn on/off and it contains the rechargeable battery as well as the means to receive instructions from the app and control the electrical stimulation on your muscles.
  • A single black cable that can simultaneously recharge both pods when not in active use
  • Replace the black cable with the red cable and you connect the POD to the two circular electrode pads
  • As well as the two circular electrode pads there is a longer rectangular which the POD attached to
  • There’s also a manual that has some instructive images to aid pad placement – DO NOT THROW AWAY. For once this is a manual that is VERY useful as it helps you place the pads properly on your body.

 

PowerDot – Attaching to your Body

Pad positioning images are available on both the app and in the manual. It was not always clear to me what the precise positions should be but approximate positions usually seemed to do the trick.

My general take on the positioning is that the rectangular pad goes at one end of the muscle and the two circular pads at the other. However, that is not the whole story as there is not a single direction of travel of the stimulation and, as PowerDot said to me, “Anything within the triangular pattern of the 3 pads will get stimulated“.

Each set of 3 pads comes attached to a clean, black plastic sheet – keep it clean. The pads are highly sticky and will easily stick to hairy skin. After use, a lot of the adhesive stays on the pads and you are easily able to re-use the pads many more times. However each time you take the pads off your body, some of the adhesive does come away too on your skin (a very small amount). I would imagine that keeping your body and the pads clean will extend their life ie keep them free from bodily oils and dirt if you can.

Choosing or Creating Your Workout on the app

The following series of images of the app gives you a flavour of how you can create a workout target, customise the workout and then use it. Once the workout has started there is very little you need to do other than sometimes increase or decrease the intensity, although it is also possible to pause the workout if, for example, you wanted to re-position the pads slightly.

However, the app is SIGNIFICANTLY more advanced than those few images suggest. There is a LOT of complexity to the recommendations and programs and how to execute them that I just can’t cover here. What I can say though is that this complexity is something you don’t have to worry about understanding. Effectively you are taken through a ‘workout wizard’ as you create your treatment step-by-step by saying what muscle groups should be focussed on and to what degree…it’s more involved than that, but that’s the gist of it and it is straightforward and intuitive

The flow for creating a smart recovery workout for running will work like this:

That’s perhaps the most complex example.

Monitoring and Reviewing Your PowerDot Usage

I’m up to over 12 hours of usage now and you can already see that there’s a nice overview of changes in recorded pain levels, the intensities used and which muscle groups were worked on and for what kinds of workouts. As you can see, I varied my usage a fair amount yet some of the charts will look prettier after several more months of usage!

 

PowerDot Notes – points that don’t fit elsewhere

  • The ‘power’ level you can bear DOES VARY greatly between exercises and between the exact placement of the pads, generally, a setting on the app of less than 5 feels mild or tingly.
  • I would start a sole of the foot workout on 5.0 and it would be uncomfortable at first but within, say, 10 minutes that same level of comfort would be 15.0. ie you get used to it quickly.
  • PowerDot Review | 2.0 Theragun Thumper
    The App Aids Positioning
  • I found the strength programs unpleasant at around a setting of 20.0 eg on the abs. Apparently, the strength setting goes to 30 and, perhaps, higher. I’m pretty sure that level would be painful though.
  • Generally speaking, I didn’t like the strength workouts and shied away from them.
  • If the setting in a strength workout is slightly too high the ‘pain’ is like a muscle taken to its limit during exercise.
  • With some of the higher settings on certain muscle groups, my muscle would easily be moving 1cm up and away from my body as it tensioned. Almost as if it were badly cramping. Here’s an example of some involuntary muscle movements near an injury at the top of my ITB/hip.

  • I’m not sure that you are meant to use around open wounds like this, I was doing it as a test for pain relief and this specific use-case delivered no pain relief.
  • Elsewhere on my feet, shoulders and lower back, the pain relief was significant. For example, the soles of my feet under my toes are currently 7/10 on the pain scale after some runs, PowerDot takes that significantly down to 1-2/10.
  • Read the notes and fully understand what is safe and not safe to do. Don’t put it near your neck or heart and don’t try to do weird stuff with it.
  • It is possible to create advanced workouts where the stimulation patterns are changed/shuffled for each subsequent workout, in theory stimulating your muscles differently each time (which should be good).
  • Whilst PowerDot is FDA-approved it is NOT FDA-approved for pregnancy usage.
  • Tips can be accessed at the start of workouts that are specific to your upcoming PowerDot workout. For example, in a forearm workout, you might be told to increase the efficacy by making a clenched fist. Other workouts might recommend you walk around or others where it’s best to sit still. But the great thing here is that you don’t have to read a huge manual to get to these workout improvement points, you are guided through creating a program and the relevant tips pop out ‘automatically’ for you at the end of the program creation, just before you start the program.

 

PowerDot Review – Some Science

A good bit of science never hurt anyone. You can read more about NMES at these links:

Performance training:

Post-Training Recovery:

 

PowerDot Review – Discount Code, Pricing, Availability & Pads

PowerDot seems to have fairly consistent pricing at rrp. They have periodic one-off offers and there are various standard discount like my 15% one, below which seems to match the best I’ve seen elsewhere (that actually work!)

Duo Uno 15% Discount Code
USA Direct $349 $199 the5krunner15
Amazon
UK Direct £325 £185 the5krunner15
Amazon £325 £185
Europe Direct Eu349 Eu199 the5krunner15
Amazon Eu349 Eu199
ROW Direct $349 $199 the5krunner15
Amazon Link Link

 

 

Available in red or black

Generic replacement pads are cheap (like 50 cents each) check pin size compatibility first, or just pay al little extra for the PowerDot ones ($18, Eu18, £17) which you know will fit and which will have a high quality, long-lasting adhesive.

Thank you for any support you give by buying from the links above. I appreciate all support, thank you. Reviews are NOT paid for by the manufacturers (at least none of mine are).

PowerDot Review 2.0
  • Price - 80%
    80%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 95%
    95%
  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
    90%
  • Features, Including App - 95%
    95%
90%

PowerDot Review | 2.0 Version

PowerDot Review | 2.0 Theragun ThumperPowerDot is so much more than ‘just another TENS machine’.

It’s a well-designed and well-made TENS/NMES product that more than met my expectations when it came to generally how easy it is to use. Certainly, what impressed me was the app which is WAY more than a simple remote control for the pads. The PowerDot app walks you through usages on different muscle groups and can build a program for your specific needs, be they muscular endurance, strength, pain relief or recovery and which all can cover multiple muscle groups in one program. As well as tracking your level during each muscle ‘workout’, subjective measurements of how you felt pain relief worked are also tracked over time.

I have the DUO version which has two sets of pads which can be used simultaneously and hence they are a great time-saver.

There are few serious downsides. Sure it’s not super-cheap (discount below!!), although I would say it is fairly priced for what it is and I  imagine your physio bills are WAY more expensive and time-consuming. I would have initially liked more confidence in understanding the exact pad placement on my body but once I’d figured that out the only recurring downside would be the cost of the replacement pads. However, with a dose of personal hygiene and handling the pads with care to keep them clean I found they are still going strong as they approach the end of their theoretical 20 hours lifespan.

 

Pros

  • Small, easily-transportable product
  • Long battery life and easily recharged
  • FDA approved
  • An impressive app which builds a program for you and logs your detailed usage
  • Different stimulation frequencies, intensities and combinations are used – seemingly far superior to anything I’d previously encountered
  • Intensity levels would go beyond what I could bear if needed.
  • You can have PowerDot working for 30 minutes under clothes whilst doing something else.

Cons

  • Pad placement positions can be difficult to copy from the app or accompanying booklet
  • Affixing to back and shoulders requires help
  • Occasionally wouldn’t pair (iOS – restart the phone)
  • The pads are fairly longlasting but require periodic repeat purchases
  • There is a total 5 minute time cost to putting the pads on and taking them off at the end.
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