An invisible, yet relentless reflex hammer appears to be beating out a rhythm on my knees. Both legs are twitching, one then the other and back.
I’m trialling a new running gadget, the Firefly Recovery Device which is designed to reduce lower leg DOMS in athletes and weekend warriors alike.
My weekend marathon across the London Underground network was tough on my legs. By the time I got home I was barely able to support my own weight and it was clear I’d be suffering for days on wobbly pins.
Time to unpack the Firefly Recovery Device.
The Firefly recovery device comes packed and sealed like a clinical instrument. Stripping open the foil pouch reveals a small strap with a raised button, presumably hiding a tiny battery. You peel off the plastic backing (make sure you keep this safe) and then apply the impressively sticky strap underneath your knee cap. There are detailed fitting instructions in the pack but I found the online video the most useful in ensuring optimum placement.
You are aiming to get the line of arrows over the head of your fibula, which is a knobble on the outside of your lower leg, just below the knee. I think the aim is to apply optimum neuromuscular electrical stimulation to the peroneal nerve, so if you don’t get the placement quite right you won’t feel the same kick. You can shift the device around a bit though so it’s not vital to get it right first time. The adhesive is strong and I’ve been whipping the device on and off quite a number of times so far.
You then press the button to switch the device on and it starts pulsing, you have a number of settings which you cycle through by pressing the button again and each increment increases the intensity. The effect isn’t painful but it is odd. I first noticed a slight twitching in one of the tendons of my right foot but as I moved the strap around and then increased the setting I got a very noticeable spasm in my leg. The video above illustrates the twitching I achieved – I have got my legs raised to accentuate the effect.
The Firefly is said to improve an athlete’s recovery by stimulating the muscles in the lower leg which increases blood flow and therefore accelerates the removal of metabolic waste products. It is claimed that it can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) within 24 hours.
I didn’t conduct a particularly scientific test and chose not to leave one leg as an untreated control. As a result the outcome is highly subjective but I’m still going to claim it as positive. I wore the device for about 20 mins on two separate occasions. I was banned from wearing it in bed due to the lower limb convulsions but even my relatively brief adherence to the device resulted in noticeably less stiffness and I could just about summon up the energy for a 20 minute jog the next day. That was much better than I expected.
Although the Firefly is designed to be used to promote recovery after vigorous activity, I plan to use it for some mid-event recuperation. In less than two weeks time I’ll be embarking on a 100k hike – The London2Brighton Challenge. At the mid-way point there is a planned break for food and blister treatment but I will also be whipping out my Firefly devices to see if they can encourage my legs to go a bit further this year.
Although the Firefly is officially marketed as a disposable device it’s battery life is quoted to be 30 hours which will see me through quite a number of recovery sessions. The adhesive is quite capable of coping with a number of re-applications (especially if you remembered to keep the plastic backing) but you can also buy a Velcro knee strap which keeps the device very secure.
At £29 for a pair it is fairly pricey and I probably wouldn’t have considered it if it had been a once only unit. As it is I’m very excited to see how it fairs on the big day, if it can re-invigorate my legs after 50k I’ll be ordering a years supply.
Other notable reviews of the Firefly Device