I’ve gotten the opportunity to test out a VibraCool unit for the past few months. I’ve had enough people asking me my thoughts on it at this point, that I felt I was due for a product review post on it. Make sure you read to the end if you’d like to save some money!
First, let me start by saying VibraCool was not designed with archers in mind. In fact, it started as “Buzzy: A drug free pain relief” for patients wanting to help control needle pain from dialysis, vaccines, IVs, etc. Basically the way it was designed is to control pain on contact using a combination of vibration and cold to desensitize the nerves. After seeing great success in this area, the company quickly learned the same concepts could be used to treat injuries, arthritis, and even training recovery for athletes.
Since switching to recurve, I’ve found I have to take much better care of my muscles to avoid aches and pains. Plus, I’ve been doing more cross training, which tends to aggravate my already “bad” knees. I’ve always had good luck with icing after working out (whether it is my shoulder after a heavy day of shooting or my knees after the tough hill loop) and I’ve also had great success with massage, so I was intrigued by the idea of combining the two together.
So first, how it works:
-VibraCool™ overwhelms the pain nerves with neutral sensations of cold and vibration
-Specially designed ice packs reduce pain and inflammation
-High frequency vibration reduces pain, loosens stiff muscles, and promotes healing
Basically, after a workout (or injury) you place the VibraCool ice pack directly on your skin with the device (vibration unit inside neoprene pouch) directly on top of the ice pack. You then activate the vibration on the unit (auto shutoff after 10 mins) by pressing the button on the device. The ice pack with stay frozen for roughly 20 mins, so you can press the button a second time if you’d like.
Note: The reusable ice packs have a soft white side which is less cold, and a blue side which is more cold.
So what are my thoughts?
I’ve been using the VibraCool unit on both my knees and my shoulder. The knee model works great with the pouch/neoprene strap. I can walk around if I need to, but generally after a taxing workout on my legs, I prefer to sit down. The unit stays on great, and I definitely have noticed a difference from ice alone. Most of you reading this are probably archers, however, so you are probably wondering about my shoulder.
Let me start with some more info on my icing technique in general. Just the shape of the shoulder makes it a difficult spot to easily hold ice on it, but I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures like these. The pitcher with a bag of ice saran wrapped around his shoulder or the girl with an ice pack held on with ace bandages, etc.
Yes, there are a lot of great new sleeves and ice packs specifically designed for icing shoulders, but the tried and true old fashion works for most without having to invest heavily.
Basically, what I’ve always used is an extra large flexible ice packet with a strap. I found it at a local drug store, and I can wrap it across my body to ice my shoulder easily.
The VibraCool unit comes in two basic versions an ankle/knee and wrist/elbow version or a more rounded neck/foot version (for things like tennis elbow, arthritis, planter fasciitis, etc), however, there is not currently a true “shoulder” version. I have been using the ankle/knee version, but I do have both sets of ice packs. What I have found is it can be tough to get the unit to stay on your shoulder, especially if you are trying to do ANYTHING else at the same time (when I ice normally I can work on the computer, etc with it on).
After a lot of trial and error, I found two tricks for using the VibraCool on my shoulder. First, if I sit sideways in my desk chair, I can lean my shoulder into the chair to hold the unit in place. Second, I can take my huge ice pack and wrap it OVER the unit (or a combination of both). Personally, the unit is a little small to get both places my shoulder tends to be sore, so I tend to do one area for 10 mins and then the other for another 10.
My biggest complaints would be 1)there is not a long strap to go cross body (like my ice pack has) to make it easy to hold on shoulder) and 2)the unit’s size/shape isn’t ideal for shoulders. After spending time with this product, I have reached out to the team that developed it, and I am hoping to help them come out with a third model specifically designed for shoulders (but that you could use other places-like your knees).
Do I think the VibraCool is for everyone? No, but I do think there are a lot of people who could benefit from it. If you are someone who has found success from icing alone, I think you could definitely see additional benefits with VibraCool. The great thing is it is easy to use, small in size (easy for traveling), available on amazon, and is backed by numerous peer reviewed studies.
I was able to get a discount code for anyone reading this review, but you must buy the unit directly from VibraCool.com for it to work. Save 20% using: CRYSTALVC at checkout.