On a warm summer afternoon in the unlikeliest of settings, some of America’s best hockey players are working out with one of the least likely of training devices.
It’s definitely one of the least recognizable.
The thought of an NHL player rehabbing an injury or working out conjures up images of grinding out the gears on a stationary bike, grunting under a squat rack of weights or pumping bar bells on a bench press.
As you enter the ARPwave facility in Burnsville, Minn., however, the fairly non-descript location resembles a warehouse more than a traditional gym or training facility. And you get your first indication that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill workout center.
The only clue that you are entering a place with professional athletes training inside is the parking lot full of Range Rovers, BMWs and the sharpest Audis that money can buy.
As athletes arrive and prepare for their therapies or workouts, you won’t find any wrist wrapping or fitting on gloves in preparation for heavy lifting. Instead, they walk down an office hallway dragging roller bags behind them, which contain a small box-shaped device that looks more like a stereo amplifier than a piece of athletic gear.
The device being toted around by the athletes is known as the ARPwave, and it is being used on this day by a half dozen or so professional hockey players, some of whom are rehabilitating nagging injuries, and by others are using it as their sole training regimen for the summer.
In addition to a small group of NHLers, more than 400 NFL players hook themselves up to this device on a regular basis, along with world-class athletes from nearly every major sport.
Inside The Box
Watching players unpack their devices and carefully place them on banquet-style tables that fill the ‘work out’ room only adds to the intrigue of how the ARP has so quickly caught the attention of a growing legion of athletes.
ARP is short for Accelerated Recovery Performance, a system that uses patented bioelectrical current along with active range-of-motion exercise techniques to speed up the body’s natural recuperative ability as well as prevent muscle-related injuries.
One of the players getting wired in on this day is Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts. The former Boston College Eagle played in only 35 games last season because of injury. After trying massage and acupuncture to heal himself, Alberts heard about the ARP Wave from other players and his agent. He has quickly become a convert.
“After it got rid of the headaches that I was suffering from after a concussion, I continued to use it to work out during the offseason, and to loosen up before games during the season,” says Alberts.
Like the other players, Alberts is not training in any capacity other than relying on the benefits he’s experienced from using the ARPwave.
“This allows you to get stronger faster, and the biggest thing you notice is flexibility and using your muscles correctly,” he says.
Wave Of The Future
Denis Thompson has been working on the ARP technology for nearly two decades. The product is based on two fundamental principles: that injury is the direct result of the muscle’s inability to absorb force, and that pain is caused by a muscle in concentric contraction that protects an injured or inflamed area.
“The first thing we test with clients is to see if the nervous system is firing properly,” says Thompson. “Then we get rid of the inflammation that is causing the compensation patterns. The third step is performance training.”
When it comes to rehabilitating, Thompson has hundreds of professional athletes on his client list. Athletes who have had knee, ankle or a variety of injuries have returned to action in a fraction of the traditional recovery time after using the ARP, which has been approved by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration.
“With the ARP we can diagnose where the weak muscle is, and nine out of 10 times it is in another area, which means that is also where the compensation is,” says Jim Reger, who is responsible for analyzing the diagnoses and ensuing rehab and training programs for the players.
“The ARP allows us to simultaneously diagnose where the inflammation and hot spot are.”
Once the area is treated, the focus shifts to strengthening the surrounding muscles by sending an electrical current to the muscle that is sure to put a grimace on the face of even the toughest professional athlete.
“When training your body you are physically only able to contract a muscle two times per second,” Reger says. “The ARP will contract at 500 times per second, or the equivalent of about 200 squats per second. At the end of the day this means you get dramatically stronger very, very quickly.”
Jason Blake had 52 points in 82 games last year for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but after scoring 40 goals the season prior, he’s using the ARP to bring more power to his game.
“I’ve never felt better, leaner, and I think I’m a lot stronger,” says Blake, the 2008 recipient of the Bill Masterton Award.
“Every player trains a certain way to get ready for the upcoming season, and this is somewhat of a new thing. But I feel like I’ve always kept myself in good shape, and this summer I almost feel like I’ve done a little less, but at the same time more. There are definitely days you don’t want to come because it’s that hard.”
Zach Parise led the New Jersey Devils in scoring last season with 65 points and, like Blake, is spending his summer training with the ARP.
“I’ve always been a pretty hard worker, but I’ve never been as sore as I have doing this stuff,” says Parise after a recent work out.
“It’s like doing something until you physically can’t do it anymore, that’s how tough it is. It’s unbelievable.”
So unbelievable in fact that NHL general managers are making the pilgrimage to the ARPwave offices to see the device for themselves.
“I’ve felt great on the ice, more flexible and powerful,” says Parise. “And it’s definitely something different, that’s for sure.”
For more information visit arpwave.com/hockey.