|THE HEALING MACHINE:
by Kent Somers, The Arizona Republic:
FLAGSTAFF --- To a handful of Cardinals players, the MVP in training camp this year never saw the practice field and doesn't know an X from an O.
It's a device about the size of a DVD player and, boy, does it pack a wallop, players say. It's the Accelerated Recovery Performance machine, and it's being used to treat injuries as well as to stretch and strengthen muscles. Players use it after practices and while they sleep, and they claim the machine has helped to keep them fresh through the rigors of training camp.
Cornerback Antrel Rolle, who is coming off two knee surgeries, started using the device in training camp and calls it an "awesome machine. It keeps my leg feeling fresh. It works wonders."
The Cardinals were turned on to it by running back Edgerrin James, who joined the team as a free agent this off-season. He used it when he was with the Indianapolis Colts and credits it as an integral part of his training regimen.
The machine is the invention of Denis Thompson, an exercise physiologist based in Burnsville, Minn.
Thompson wasn't happy with the way traditional methods used to train athletes and treat their injuries because they ignored the body's nervous system. The symptoms of injury were being treated, he said, but not the actual injury.
The ARP machine is designed to stimulate the nervous system, Thompson said, which in turn helps the body heal.
The machine resembles electrical stimulation therapy, with wires extending from the machine to pads that are placed on the player.
The difference, Thompson said, is ARP treats the cause of the injury, not just the symptoms. "I would place these pads right on the spot where it hurts, and if that's where the problem is, you are going to elicit a degree of discomfort," he said. "I move the pads around until I find an electrical disturbance, which is the origin of your problems."
"If you tell me all the pain is on the inside of the ankle, that may be where you feel the pain because that's where it ended up, not where it came from."
Thompson can deliver a technical explanation about how the machine works and the problems with modern training methods.
Fatigue, injury and traditional weight-training methods cause muscles to contract, decreasing their ability to absorb force, he said. The ARP relaxes the muscle and "in seconds I can improve the athlete's ability to absorb force and reduce injury," Thompson said.
Players don't care nearly so much about the methods as they do the results. They say the machine has increased their flexibility and strength, and has eliminated much of the soreness normally associated with training camp.
"Between practices I put it on my ankle to make sure it stays loose and keep all the inflammation out," said running back Marcel Shipp, who suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle in 2004. "It's unbelievable."
Pay for quality.
The machine isn't cheap. Each player has paid [...] for a five-year license that gives him the use of the device and unlimited technical guidance. Thompson and his staff, who operate seven clinics nationwide, are available 24 hours a day.
Thompson estimates that about 290 NFL players use it, and he credits James for much of the device's popularity. "Edgerrin was kind of instrumental in getting this in the NFL, because I had probably 50 NFL players before Edge," Thompson said.
James played it coy initially when asked about the ARP device, because he's not an official spokesman for it.
A few days later, however, James said the device was a key part of his training.
"It's sweet," said James, but "you can't just put it all on one thing. There is a lot that goes into making sure you are right."
A conversation with James piqued Shipp's interest in the machine. So he and fullback James Hodgins, who is coming off a knee injury, flew to Minnesota to take a look. They were soon hooked.
"It's reduced my soreness and I've been able to recover pretty good from . . . workouts," Hodgins said.
Hodgins uses the machine to stretch every night and between workouts, and he also sleeps with it. "It's really loosened me up," he said. "It's been amazing."
Players in other sports use it, too. The machine is popular in the NHL and in Major League Baseball, Thompson said. The Diamondbacks' Craig Counsell has used it to rehabilitate his rib injury.
"It works, but I'm not sure what it does," Counsell said. "It's like one of those things you try because anecdotally people say it helps."
Take Rolle, for instance. He had no idea what James was talking about when he first discussed the ARP. Now Rolle thinks he got a bargain for his [...].
"I'm in love," he said. "If it was $50,000, I would have spent $50,000."