Review : Firefly Recovery Aid
At first glance the pack supplied can look pretty innocuous but these small straps are, according to firefly, designed to aid your recovery through the use of electro stimulation. Sounds painful? Actually it isn’t, but can take some getting used to initially.
The fireflys are supplied in a handy zip lock pouch along with extra adhesive straps, a cleaning wipe and emery card (to prepare the skin) along with a complete set of instructions. The website also has a handy YouTube clip for further guidance. Additional neoprene straps can be purchased if required – these would more likely be used if you decided to remain mobile while wearing them.
The claim of firefly is that by using their recovery device you can increase blood flow to the lower leg through electrical current stimulation of the neuromuscular system and thus recover quicker by reducing muscle soreness and swelling whilst resting after a hard session.
They are easy to fit following the instructions. Once attached, there are seven levels of stimulation; the requirement can vary with the individual and through use seems to vary per leg. This was easy to work out and pretty intuitive once positioned and turned on. After getting used to the constant twitch and settling down to relax for a few hours, the fireflys were left to do their work.
Using them on the middle setting seemed to give the best balance between comfort and feedback that something was in fact happening.
Best perceived results were noticeable after long runs but they were put to use over a few weeks post half ironman event, a number of 2+ hour runs and numerous 5+ hour bicycle rides.
There was certainly a feeling of recovery benefit and less of a heavy leg feeling the next day – this is difficult to quantify medically but most athletes will know their own levels of fatigue. Certainly the gains are not as measurable as, say a new set of wheels, but for the top age grouper or heavy trainer trying to gain that extra few percentage points over the opposition they are worth a try.
With price there lies one of the conundrums facing the fireflys. The recommended usage is for a one time application with 4 hours being the optimum before they are disposed of. At £30 a pair this doesn’t make sense or good value for money. What makes more sense is to use the full 24 hours battery life over a number of sessions and ensure that you store them carefully and clean your legs after use. Further research seems to point to this official line due to the CE medical rating on the product and restrictions around health and safety for fear of infection due to reuse in hospitals. This shouldn’t be ignored but maybe used with a little more real world common sense.
There is also the issue that many working age groupers have after a long session at the weekend – family takes over and spending 4 hours lying around waiting for the fireflys to repair you isn’t in most peoples training plan. My next door neighbour is a pro rugby league player and uses these for recovery. The main reason they use them is on longer journeys back from away games, picture 20 larger than life tired rugby players all with legs twitching chilling on a 4 hour coach trip back home. This is a perfect time to use them, its finding that 4 hours in your life to spend recovering. I will add though, mobility after attaching the fireflys didn’t seem to be an issue and the optional neoprene straps maybe beneficial here. A trade off with the family that you can still move about and if you can ignore the twitching then I see this as a viable alternative.
Overall, the virtues of neuromuscular stimulation have been argued for many years but this may be a cheaper solution than the pricier units on the market such as COMPEX. If used to their full battery life, the fireflys provide a cheap portable solution to reduction of DOMS if you have the time to rest after a long session.
Value 4 (based on recommended use)