March 22, 2014
Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/recovery-podcasts/what-is-marc-pro/
[00:00] About Ryan Heaney
[01:52] What is the Marc Pro?
[04:12] Effects of Using the Marc Pro
[06:19] The Muscle-Activated Recovery Cascade
[07:49] On Muscle Stimulation
[13:48] Using the Marc Pro
[19:46] Marc Pro & Working Out
[22:40] End of the Podcast
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield here, and a few weeks ago I heard about this new device that can do things like generate new blood vessels and remove waste from muscles more efficiently, maximize flow of your limb fluid throughout your body to help out your immune system, and train your muscle fibers to actually fire with really kind of laser-like precision. So when I got my hands on this device that does this which is called a Marc Pro, I decided I needed to actually do a podcast about it. So what I have or who I have on the call is the president of Marc Pro to explain to us exactly what this thing is, how it works, how this type of electrical muscle stimulation device is different than some of the other things that we've talked about before on the podcast and how exactly it is that you can use it. So Ryan Heaney is my guest today, and Ryan, thanks for coming on the call.
Ryan: Hey, you're welcome. Happy to be here, Ben.
Ben: So Ryan, let's go ahead and start here. What exactly is the story behind this Marc Pro device?
Ryan: Well, our background was really in the medical field, and my family actually started the business many years ago, and you know a lot of success in a lot of different medical areas that sports medicine has been a big part of that, and a lot of the pro athletes using the device for injuries, things like post-op rehab, started reporting back to us that they weren't just waiting 'till they were hurt, they weren't just waiting for the serious issues like post-operation situations, but we're using it just to feel good afterwards. On the buses, on the plane ride home, in the hotel room, and that's pushed us to consider developing a new product in a holding division and in a new company. And in 2011, we started Marc Pro, and just launched a product that is solely focused on sports performance, recovery, and condition. It's not intended to be used as a medical device or replacement for what an orthopedic surgeon is going to do, but it could have a lot of success with anyone from recreational athlete to again, the pro athlete.
Ben: So walk me through this, what is it, and how does it work 'cause I've actually got it sitting here in front of me, this handheld controller and you've got some wires you attach to it, but what exactly is it?
Ryan: Yeah, it's certainly a form of electrical stimulation, and you know there's wires that go to the electrodes that stick on your skin, and no doubt the device comes with an instruction book with really just some guidelines on where to put the electrodes for all different parts of the body. But it's as simple as from, you're saying, “Hey, what are the muscles that are tired, sore, fatigued? What's my weak link, an area that I really want to improve, that I want to last longer before it starts to give out and break down?” And you really put the electrodes in that area, and turn the dial on and go. Application is really simple.
Ryan: As far as what the device is doing, it's using muscle activation, muscle contraction to get the circulatory system going, to bring in oxygenated blood and nourishment, and that same muscle activation is getting the lymphatic system going to remove the waste, the garbage and all the bile product that you don't want there. That's of course causing some of the tightness, soreness and also slowing down recovery.
Ben: So, are any effects that you've seen or that you guys have studied on elements like performance or strength, or is this just basically the increased blood flow and lymph flow and kind of stop there?
Ryan: Good question. No doubt the basis of recovery is the movement of nourishment waste. I mean Marc Pro isn't mystically or magically doing anything, that's how your body recovers. It slowly gets rid of the waste, brings the nourishment, the oxygenated blood that your body needs to recover. We just greatly speed that up. Now, are we going to make you stronger directly? No, you know. We're not one of those devices that's claiming to give you six-pack abs while you're sitting on the couch or build muscle.
Ben: Okay, I'm going to hang up right now then.
Ryan: With that said, you know, there was a study published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology, and it took folks that were doing strength training, weight training programs and gave half of them the Marc Pro and half of them did not have the Marc Pro, and they were all doing identical strength training programs. Same amount of time, same instructions, same everything. The groups were randomized, and the people who had Marc Pro actually got significantly greater strength gains than the people that had not had Marc Pro, and the people who had Marc Pro were using it I think two or three nights a week and then they were training two or three times a week. And we certainly are not going to sit there and believe or even try to pitch that Marc Pro made them stronger, but what happened is when you don't fully recover between your training, your results are compromised. And when you're lifting in weights training, you're breaking everything down. You're actually gaining the strength during the recovery phase. So because these folks that had the Marc Pro could more fully recover between their training, it allowed their trainings to be more successful and therefore they did have better strength gains. So indirectly, it can certainly be a valuable tool, but it's certainly not going to bulk you up or build strength with it on.
Ben: Okay, so you say that Marc stands for Muscle-Activated Recovery Cascade. Can you explain from kind of like a physiological standpoint what that means and how that works?
Ryan: Sure. We wanted to know what Marc Pro was doing with our background of medical devices. We certainly know that science matters, and people want to know why something's working. So we actually went and did the research, Wake Forest University did another of studies on the mechanisms. What is it actually doing to the body? And when we did that, we kind of found and then proved that when you apply the stimulation, it's somehow affecting nitric oxide, the neurotransmitter. That's then causing blood vessels in the region to dilate. That then in turn is causing significantly increased blood flow, also the muscle activation then would be causing the lymphatic system to get going as well. And then when used regularly, in the research it was for a few weeks, five days a week. When used regularly, there was a measured formation, a significant formation of additional new blood vessels. So we just kind of saw that as a series of things that happens, or we call that a cascading series of things that happened when you start using Marc Pro and that's where the acronym came from. So it all starts with muscle activation or muscle contraction through a muscle-activated recovery cascade, or the cascading series of events that occur when you use Marc Pro.
Ben: Got it, okay so when I first got this, I've used other electrical muscle stimulation devices in the past, and I was having a really hard time kind of wrapping my head around why this would be any different than any other form of electrical muscle stimulation, but the way that I understand it is that there are different ways that you can actually stimulate a muscle. Can you kind of go into the different ways that EMS works and what exactly is used in the Marc Pro as far as like the specific wave forms used to contract the muscle?
Ryan: Sure, even though it's not technically muscle stimulation, all this quickly throughout the TENS thing because so many people know that TEN.
Ben: In TENS, you mean like the pain control devices?
Ryan: Exactly, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a TENS device, and they're the most common, cheapest devices out there. You know real quickly, those are intended simply to send electrical signals through the skin to block or mask pain signals. They're so rehabilitative benefits, there's no recovery benefits. There's nothing happening except masking the pain signal, and obviously that's not what Marc Pro wants to do. Athletes say we don't want to mask paint because that's just going to lead to potentially more injury because you have no guarding ability. When you jump over the muscle stimulators, traditional muscle stimulators, especially the types that therapists use in kind of the medical field which is most of the products out there are really based on those medical muscle stimulators. They were already designed for muscle reeducation, primarily. So people who were immobilized because of injury or casting or whatever it may be, their muscle atrophy deteriorated, and then you're trying to use a muscle stimulator to help bring back that muscle tone. There are detailed things that therapists are doing with patients to help use a muscle stimulator in that regard, and works for that, it's good for that. The problem is those muscle stimulators all create a relatively harsh muscle contraction. You really grab the muscle. We use the word cat knives which is cramping the muscle, fully contracts and holds it at that full contraction for a certain amount of time, releases it. It's rather harsh, it could be rather uncomfortable, and after a relatively short period of time, it starts to fatigue the muscle.
That is not bad at all when you're trying to do muscle reeducation or if you are trying to help bring muscle tone back. You actually want that, similar to weight training. You want to break the muscle down and use it to get fatigue to build it back up, but if you're talking about recovery or to improve conditioning, that's kind of little contrary to what you want to accomplish. If you're really fatigued and you put a traditional muscle stimulator on, you're going to be more fatigued afterwards. You're not going to feel refreshed. So what makes Marc Pro really unique is the ability to get still very, very strong muscle contractions, but you'll do that without any energy requirements, without any stress, very comfortably and with no fatigue whatsoever.
Ben: And how exactly does that work. Like how is it different?
Ryan: And it's a different set of electrical parameters, and to be fair too, there are some recovery devices out there that have gotten close to that regard that do have recovery modes, that won't fatigue in the short run and they are better than the medical muscle stimulators out there. But they're root technology, and this is going to answer your question, is still kind of based on that medical technology, and it still has a relatively harsh signal.
Ben: And is that the signal that's called the static square wave form signal?
Ryan: That's certainly the root of it, a part of it. Most devices kind of have just this very old school wave form. The signal is either completely on or completely off at any moment. So the signal turns on, stays on for a certain amount of time and then instantly turns off.
Ben: So as far as the actual muscle it concerned, what does that mean for the muscle?
Ryan: Well it, in itself, isn't everything. It does mean that it's a bit harsh. It grabs that muscle, it fully contracts it, it holds it for some amount of time, and it instantly goes off. And just to compare that, when you use the wave form of Marc Pro which we call dynamic wave form or an exponentially decaying wave form. It contracts, it grabs the muscle, and the second it hits it's kind of peak energy, it immediately and instantly starts a smooth exponential decay down to zero. Just kind of intuitively, you can kind of just envision that and say, “gosh, that just sounds more relaxing and nicer.” Contract the muscle and slowly release it. Contract again and kind of slowly let it go as opposed to that harsh on, off, but maybe more than that, the wave form allows other parameters to be tinkered with. And really the biggest is one called polsteration, and that's when the signal goes on, how long is it on for? And neither small numbers, but they make big differences. And our polsteration, Marc Pro's polsteration is really, really, really long.
There's not a single device, whether it's in the medical field or out of the medical field that used a polsteration as long as ours. And what that allows for if you're trying to contract muscle, you want to get the best recruitment possible. You want to get those really difficult muscle fibers to contract. Those little small muscle fibers that surround the lymphatic vessels that of course you're trying to stimulate to pump that waste out. Not just a superficial contraction. It might look really big, but is it really getting all the different types of fibers that you want, and the longer that polsteration is, that means you're getting more energy through the skin into that tissue and a greater level of recruitment. And the wave form kind of allows for that as opposed to being forced to use high voltage and frequency which is traditionally how devices would get power. We use really long or high polsterations, and it allows us to get a lot of power but without the harshness that comes with high voltage.
Ben: So how would you actually use it? Like let's say I go out for a workout, run, bike ride, and weight training session, whatever. Do you hook it up right after, is this something that you would use the next day? I mean what's kind of the best practice to get the most bang for your buck out of this thing?
Ryan: The best time is as soon as possible. You know, when you build up waste and ingestion, over time, it just kind of gets to keep it conceptually thicker. That might not be a technical term, so it's easier to get rid of it sooner but you don't have to. No doubt you could wake up the next morning and realize I'm really sore and hook it up at that time, but the best time would be as soon as you can, after working out. A lot of times, it's that evening. You want to do it when you're relaxed, when you're sitting on the couch, when you're reading or watching TV or doing your computer work are the great times, so that evening.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. And do you generally leave it on for like fifteen, twenty or thirty? I mean 'cause that's one thing I noticed is this there's not necessarily a specific time frame when I turn it on?
Ryan: Some devices have those kind of cookie cutter programs, and they make us laugh a little bit because you know recovery can't happen in let's say, twenty-two minutes. That's unrealistic, and it can't always be twenty-two minutes. You know if you're really out of shape and you did something huge, you might need hours to recover. If you're an elite athlete and you didn't do something that was that big of a deal that day, you might recover in fifteen minutes, and it's impractical to think it's some cookie cutter formula. But generally speaking, we say a thirty to sixty minute session. You get really noticeable results, and it's reasonable. It's not asking a lot. But no doubt though if you're really trashed after a really tough workout, you might use it two hours, if you're sitting down watching a two-hour movie anyways you might as well keep it on. It's only help more, it never hits a point where it becomes fatiguing or stressful to the body. You can keep it on for hours straight if it needs to, but you typically wouldn't need to do it that often.
Ben: So who's using this thing, in terms of athletes or teams?
Ryan: Gosh, I think we're over now a hundred teams in the four major sports. I think there's only four Major League Baseball teams that don't use it, and then over half the teams in the NFL, the NHL and the NBA. So no doubt that's a big niche, and then we have a lot of athletes in a lot of other sports, a lot of elite crossfitters, a lot of the riders of United Health Care Pro-cycling are using it. We have a top amateur team, the Marc Pro Strava team, our own cycling team that uses it. And everything from Louie Vito, the pro-snowboarder, to Apollo Ono who now kind of phasing out, but still doing his speed skating. Kind of everyone in between.
Ben: Yeah, that's what kind of actually impressed me when I went over your website was the number of folks that are actually using it, and you know, I've experimented with a lot of electrical muscle stimulation devices. I've used devices from everything from strength and power to recovery, and even though this thing doesn't deliver that huge pack of electrical stimulation that you'd use for like a strength training session, for example. I guess it must be the difference in the wave form between it and some of the other devices, as far as it doesn't feel uncomfortable at all of your muscles as you put it on. So if you're kind of iffy about getting into electrical muscle stimulation, I think this is a good one as well.
Ryan: Yeah, no doubt. By not trying to do any of the strength stuff 'cause we just believe in the end resistance exercise can be the best for that. But that root technology really just is focused on being, what's the very best thing for moving nerves meant your way, and that is so key to recovery? And there's also this other side that I didn't necessarily hit on, but that's also what you want to use for a warm up. When you want to warm up a muscle, you want to get it activating, you want to move nourishment waste, bringing that oxygen without, of course, causing any fatigue. It's pre-training or pre-competition. So Marc Pro's often used. I know a number of our pro-baseball pitchers use it as part of their warmup regiment, and then we didn't fully talk about it, but conditioning. It's not just about recovery, we don't necessarily wait until you’re sore and then use Marc Pro to make you feel better. If you know you have a weak link, you know I've definitely had runners who say, “You know I just know my knees at five miles, they start to bother me, or my hamstring tightens up at mile seven.” It could be your traps, could be your low back, and could be anywhere. You don't want to wait until it gets really sore and use Marc Pro to recovery. You want to say, “Hey, can I proactively address this? Let me use my Marc Pro three times a week, on that week length, whatever that may be.” And by improving the vascularity, the number of vessels in that region, once you do that which will happen with regular use, now that region of the body has more capacity. It has the capacity and the ability to bring in more nourishment, more oxygenated blood which means that region, and those muscles can do more before they break down.
Ben: So you could technically use it just to increase muscle awareness for a muscle that's not working properly or that needs to be trained?
Ryan: Certainly. Certainly, and a lot of times our runner would say I have tons of vessels. Obviously when you start running or whatever sport that you do, you're going to create tons of angiogenesis all on your own. So why do I need Marc Pro to create more? Well the challenge is if you have this weak link, this trouble spot, you can't say well, I'm going to run more or ride more or ski more or whatever sport it may be to get more conditioning 'cause that's putting too much stress on your body. You'll end up getting hurt, so that's the kind of beauty and the uniqueness of Marc Pro is it can keep shoving more oxygenated blood in that area. Moving the waste, tell your body to kind of spur the conditioning effect which is increased vascularity. But do all of that without any stress on the body, without any fatigue, without any energy requirements.
Ben: Gotcha, now can you wear this or use it while you are working out? Like could I put it on, or are people doing this, put it on my legs for example and do a set of squats to enhance muscle utilization? Or if I've got a hamstring quad imbalance, and my hammies are too strong, could I like put it on my vastus medialis, on my inner quad muscles and have those firing while I'm doing a lunge hold or a squat hold or something like that?
Ryan: Yeah, that's not something a Marc Pro is really set up for. I mean you probably could do that. There's people, I think that have tinkered with that. But generally speaking, no. It's really meant to be used as a recovery, conditioning, and warmup tool in a relaxed position because as soon as you start resisting against the contraction, so if you're not relaxed or if you're moving around, standing with it on and it's contracting your legs. By resisting in that contraction, now your muscles are doing work. So again, if you were trying to use it as a strength building tool, sure it might add extra resistance if you were doing physical movements with it on.
Ben: I was thinking about increasing muscle awareness during an exercise, like that type of thing.
Ryan: It's not something it's typically been used for, but you will end up having some degree of fatigue if you are resisting the contractions.
Ryan: And that's certainly not the core goal. If you want to increase vascularity, if you want to get rid of waste or recovery, if you want to warm up, during all those things you're not looking to cause muscle fatigue, and that's why we would generally recommend doing it in a real relaxed position.
Ben: Okay, cool. Well what I'm going to do for folks who want to check this out more is I know that you guys are giving our listeners a discount, specifically a $32 discount on the Marc Pro at marcpro.com if you use the discount code “Ben”. Now the other thing I noticed is you guys have a payment plan because like a base device is what for the total cost?
Ryan: Yeah, the retail price is 650, so if you use the discount code, it ends up being $617.
Ben: Okay, and you could pay like 50 bucks a month or something like that?
Ryan: And that's just great, $54 a month, so it turns into about $51 a month which just makes it really easy and reasonable, and there's a money-back guarantee too, whether you buy it all at once or whether you make payments. If for some reason you're not happy, we want people to be satisfied and be seemed with the product.
Ben: Alright, awesome. So the discount code is “Ben”, and it saves you 32 bucks on this thing over at marcpro.com. I'll put some more resources in the show notes to previous podcasts that we've done on electrical muscle stimulation if you want to learn a little bit more about it. So that being said, Ryan, thanks for coming on the call today, man.
Ryan: Thank you, Ben. Really appreciate it.
Ben: Alright folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Ryan from marcpro.com, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
When I first heard about a device that could generate new blood vessels, remove waste from muscles, maximize flow of lymphatic fluid throughout the body, and allow muscle fibers to fire with lightning-like precision, I knew I had to do a podcast about it.
It's called a “Marc Pro“, it's a form of electrical muscle stimulation, works much differently than something like a Compex, and in today's episode with CEO Ryan Heaney, you're going to discover:
-What is the Marc Pro?
-How does it help with muscle recovery?
-Are there any effects on performance or strength?
-Can you build muscle with it?
-How is this any different than other electrical stimuation devices?
-Whether you can use it during exercise.
If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like:
–How To Use Electrical Muscle Stimulation to Enhance Performance, Build Power and VO2 Max
–Can Electrical Stimulation Devices Make You Fit or Help You Burn Fat?