An effective training regimen involves more than just getting those miles or reps in day in and day out. To get the most out of your fitness journey, you need to also fuel your body right, as well as recover properly. There's no shortage of relieving devices out there to help with the latter, from massage guns to foam rollers and beyond. Oftentimes, however, these tools keep you locked down in a singular location for a set amount of time, requiring your immobile presence for a worthwhile session.
One particular recovery modality plagued by this stagnant setting issue: electrical stimulation therapy. This discipline sends small pulses through your skin to help stimulate blood flow, block pain receptors and, ultimately, strengthen muscles. To accomplish this, you need a number of wires and nodes along with a hefty head unit...which doesn't promote a lot of movement.
Enter Firefly Recovery, an innovative new wearable that forgoes the typical wires and bulky equipment while still delivering electrical stimulation. This portable device uses key placement and a variety of electrical intensities to help your body recover faster from strenuous workouts. But the biggest selling point of this device trusted by a number of collegiate and professional athletes is its wearability; you're able to use this device while still partaking in a number of activities.
On paper, this all sounds fantastic, right? A smaller, more packable device that can help get you back to performing quicker while allowing you to conquer routine tasks mid-session? What a game changer...if true.
To see if the promises of this small recovery device were kept, I utilized the Firefly Recovery device for multiple weeks after various workouts ranging in intensity. Rather than submitting my afternoons and evenings to massage gun sessions or recovery boot regimens, I donned this sleek wearable to examine its efficiency as well as its convenience. Whether kicking back and catching up with a good book, or completing some routine chores before bed, I wore this lower body tool throughout my routines to get a good feel for what this innovative device could deliver.
Here's what you expect from this simple tool that aims to deliver rapid recovery and relief.
What's Good About Firefly's Portable Recovery Device?
The varied intensities allow for active recovery, without confining you to a set location.
The Firefly Recovery device works by sitting across the peroneal nerve in your leg. This precise placement allows the electrical pulses to generate increased blood flow across multiple muscle groups at once. This differs from traditional electrical stimulation treatments, which target one muscle area per attached node.
Once placed at the fibular head near your knee, where the peroneal nerve sits. you're able to choose the intensity of these electrical pulses, which generate a "flutter" in your foot that resembles a twitch. While it's a unique sensation at first, finding that ideal setting is rather easy, which allowed me to fine-tune the setup for more active recovery without throwing off my daily schedule. At low–medium settings, I was still able to walk around and wash dishes, fold laundry or tend to my pets without compromise. For evenings where I knew I'd be lying down or stagnant, I was able to amplify the jolts, creating more flutter — and thus more blood flow to my tired, aching legs.
I really appreciated this versatility, as it allowed me to curate my afternoon schedule better to accomplish my daily tasks and responsibilities. Normally, I'd have to set aside an hour or more for a worthwhile post-workout routine, but the Firefly Recovery device kept that window more open for activities. (This is also a plus given the fact that the brand recommends multiple hours of treatment for full relief.)
The sleek, portable design is ideal for travel and storage.
If you've ever tried to travel with a bulky massage gun or hefty recovery boots, you've probably asked the question, "Is recovery really worth all this?" That inquiry is virtually nonexistent with the Firefly Recovery device. The slim packaging and sleek knee bands fit easily in any tote or gym bag. I look forward to upcoming trips and softball tournaments, as this device fits far better in a side pocket than my trusty Hyperice Hypervolt Go 2.
The portability also marries well to the active recovery aspect of the Firefly Recovery device. I had a few weekend workouts that called for me to hit the gym early ahead of some planned errands; rather than sitting at the training center for a lengthy period massaging out my muscles or rushing home to sit for a compression session, I was able to pack this tool neatly in my gym bag's side compartment, then slap it on and go about my day.
What's Not Ideal About Firefly's Portable Recovery Device?
The sticky resin can be painful to remove.
To help keep the Firefly Recovery device in-place throughout treatment, the bands utilize a tacky substance that helps the node stick to your skin more efficiently. Yet, while I followed the recommended instructions of ensuring the area was clean and dry, I still experienced some discomfort when it came time to remove the device, which I attribute in part to my hairier legs. The best comparison I can give to the experience is trying to remove a rather sticky bandage; while discomforting for only a minute, anyone that's experienced this agony is sure to attest that it's not something they'd want to sign up for day in and day out.
Of course, I don't believe everyone will experience this anguish, as there are athletes with less body hair than I. Still, though, it's worth mentioning — even if to save just one athlete from the irritable pain that could accompany the final moments of their recovery session.
The batteries are single use, and replacement costs can add up.
Most of the recovery devices I own and use are rechargeable — making their effectiveness more prolonged, provided I keep their batteries fueled. The Firefly Recovery device, however, is disposable only. There's no way to charge the batteries of the nodes or swap out the power source once the supply begins to dwindle. This may be okay for some, but it brought a key point to mind after a handful of regimens: how many sessions will it take before this cost-effective device puts me in the red?
A Firefly Starter Kit contains two pairs of devices, each with an intended battery life of 30 hours. If you're using this tool daily for two hours per session, that means you're likely to get 15 days of treatment from the kit alone. Single replacement pairs are available for $45 — but if you follow this daily recovery schedule, that means you could be spending nearly $1,000 on replacement nodes alone in a given year. When you factor in that even the most expensive massage guns rarely exceed $600, the cost does begin to outweigh the benefits.
Firefly Portable Recovery Device: The Verdict
While the entry-level cost is far more approachable than other recovery devices, and the effectiveness is worthwhile, I don't think the Firefly Recovery device is an effective substitute for my normal disciplines. The fact that the nodes are disposable and there's no way to replace the batteries does leave some cost concerns that just aren't present with other tools of the trade.
With that said, however, I will continue to use the Firefly Recovery devices, just in more strenuous situations where I need to recover quickly ahead of a planned event like a race or tournament. The electrical stimulation definitely provides a boost to my regimen, and the fact that the device can operate while I still carry out my normal tasks is a definite plus. I recommend keeping this tool for travel days or sessions that follow a more intense activity. Have a marathon coming up, a CrossFit challenge in the coming months, a weekend slowpitch softball tournament on the horizon? Save the Firefly for those days where you need it most, and opt for more affordable, rechargeable modalities for those in-between days.
Or, to put it another way: If you have a big event coming up, or routinely partake in competitive athletics, give this wearable a chance. If you're just looking for a new daily recovery regimen, though, you may want to look elsewhere.