Bodyflow is an Australian owned company manufacturing electrotherapy devices in Germany. After clinical trials were conducted the machines have been on the Australian market since 2008 but are now also available internationally. They are being used throughout physio practices, professional sporting organisations and with lymphodema practitioners but are not widely known about in the general sporting community.
They are basically an electrical stimulation device that helps to promote blood flow and lymphatic drainage around the body to aid recovery. I came across them through working with another physio at Netball Victoria who uses them within her clinic post operatively and with her sporting clients.
So what does the evidence say?
In regards to sporting recovery enhancement there is one study completed that compared a group of athletes after maximal exercises such as vertical jump testing, knee extension weights and a fitness test on a bike to maximum exertion to induce muscle damage and soreness (DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). The group was compared to a control group where they received no electrical stimulation post exercise and were then compared by testing their blood for biomechanical markers, subjective pain scores as well as comparing exercise performance 2 days later.
Muscle force was re-established to baseline in the experimental group after 1 day compared to the control group where there was a continued decrease in strength for 3 days. The blood results also showed that the Bodyflow treatment stopped the rise of CRP (C-reactive protein) and CK (Creatine Kinase) which are both proteins released by the body after tissue injury. These results suggest there was decreased inflammation and damage, or accelerated recovery which could be due to improved blood flow and/or lymphatic drainage.
There are three studies to scientifically prove the machines effectiveness but only one specifically looking at sporting recovery. It should also be noted that this study was completed by an exercise physiologist through Victoria University but was funded by Bodyflow International.
I had not come across these machines in either of my clinics in Melbourne until I met my colleague who also works in netball. As mentioned in my Instagram post I did try this out with my Under 17 Victorian Netball side whilst we were competing at Nationals after it was recommended to me for helping with heavy, tired legs and general muscle soreness. The high physicality on the athletes bodies playing 1-2 games every day over 6 days straight can be really tiresome and often causes that heavy tired legs feeling by the end of the week.
However, I did have some players feel that as soon as they hit the courts the next day their legs still felt fatigued and weren’t convinced. Of course, it is hard to know if the severity of DOMS was reduced as you are never going to know subjectively what you would have felt like if you hadn’t of used the machine.
Certainly no harm in trying the machine for post exercise/sports recovery with the idea of flushing out toxins and by products of high intensity exercise which makes sense that it could decrease the severity of DOMS. It would certainly be interesting to know what other technology/devices are out there in helping elite sports people get back on the track faster. I am sure there are many gadgets and expensive recovery devices that we have no idea about! Certainly food for thought.
Here is a link to the evidence on the Bodyflow website: