When the device was turned off, Romano’s blood flow quickly returned to its previous state. Kjenstad said that increase in microcirculation translates to a feeling of fresher legs after working out by reducing delayed onset muscle syndrome — soreness caused by muscle inflammation shortly after working out. Still, the research supporting the firefly was convincing, so Romano and his team decided to give the device a try. Traditional electrical muscle stimulation devices were used at schools across the country to help college athletes recover after games and practices. These devices were often large and bulky and required athletes to slip cumbersome boots on their legs to reap the benefits of the treatment. “USC was a very early adopter,” Kjenstad recalled. “It’s only grown with USC. Again, they’re probably one of the few schools that uses it across all of their sports — not [only] what I would call the money sports like football and basketball.” After determining the firefly’s efficacy, Romano and USC gradually introduced it to the University’s athletes. “It used to be about being stronger, being faster, being in the weight room, getting in as much time as you can performing and training and [practicing],” said Anthony Kjenstad, founder and president of Athletic Recovery and Performance. “Now, there is probably as much of a push to make sure you are recovering as well as you can so that you perform optimally.” “[The research papers] definitely validated the product as a device to increase blood flow,” Romano said. “But from a recovery standpoint, [the diagnostic ultrasound] really validated it for me in addition to those other papers [because] I saw it first hand.” Several USC sports teams have begun using the firefly, a small device intended to increase blood-flow after games, practices and workouts. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Campbell) “You can be hooked up to recovery boots,” Romano said. “Those exist, but you’ve got to plug those into an electrical outlet, or they’re battery-operated and you have to wear these bulky boots … but [with] fireflies, I can carry 50 pairs of fireflies in a Ziploc bag. I can’t carry 50 pairs of boots.” Despite the positive reception of the firefly thus far, Romano stresses that there is still much more to athletic recovery. “Yes,” Romano said. “I’m really pleased with it. I think there’s a direct benefit, otherwise we wouldn’t use them.” Romano confesses that at first, he just saw the firefly as one of the many recovery devices that he has been pitched over the years. “It’s an adjunct to all the things that assist in recovery,” Romano said. “Getting ample sleep is really important. Post-game nutrition and hydration are extremely important in the recovery process. The fireflies play a role in that but you have to do a combination of things to be successful.” The firefly is an electric sports recovery device that stimulates the common peroneal nerve on the knee to elicit a muscle contraction in the calf that stimulates blood flow. It comprises a small adhesive strip that wraps around the knee and sends a small, painless electrical stimulus to the nerve. “We were able to demonstrate that not too much was happening — normal blood flow was going on with the device off,” Romano said. “When I turned the device on, [I] saw a big effect [on] blood flow.” Beyond continued use among USC’s athletic teams, Romano says the USC intends to study the broader implications the device might have on the field of sports recovery. With the help of a team physician, Romano used a diagnostic ultrasound machine to examine a blood vessel in his knee. While wearing the firefly, Romano and the physician monitored the vessel as the device was turned on and off. “I’ve had some players come to me and say, ‘Yeah, these were great, I wasn’t as sore as I usually would expect to be after a game like this,’” Romano said. “One [football] player told me that he usually would have muscle cramps every time [we traveled] … This person had cramped throughout their career, and the firefly eliminated that.” Still, Romano was able to provide some insight into how the product has been received amongst Trojans. “I get pitched [new technology] all the time,” he said. For decades, sports has centered on the notion that the longer you practice and the harder you train, the better you’ll play. In recent years, that appears to have changed. The firefly has entered USC at a time when there is growing concern regarding young athletes injuring themselves so early on in their career. The issue has already started to affect USC, as prominent athletes such as football sophomore quarterback JT Daniels and soccer junior midfielder Savannah DeMelo — among others — have suffered injuries that threaten not only their health this season but possibly their future careers as well. “We’re looking at it to see where it can benefit post-injury,” Romano said. “We’re looking at it to see the effects of increasing blood-flow — what’s in the blood that’s beneficial to the body … Those are the things we don’t fully understand but we’re trying to get a better picture of it.” When asked whether or not USC plans to continue using the product, Romano was quick to respond. The device came to Romano’s attention when a former knee brace representative introduced him to the product. Before then, the technology had been used in British hospitals to prevent blood clots. It has only recently been re-engineered into a sports recovery product. According to Kjenstad and Romano, USC’s football, basketball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse and rowing teams have all used the product. Due to concerns regarding potential NCAA violations, players on the teams could not be contacted for fear of their being perceived to endorse a product. In layman’s terms, the firefly increases blood flow in the lower body to help athletes recover faster from workouts, practices and games. “You will get two things out of it,” Kjenstad said. “If you’re running blood to your heart faster, you’re going to get more oxygenation in your blood … so that’s going to help you with overall performance recovery by reoxygenating your blood and running it through your system faster. The other component you’re going to get from the firefly is an increase in lower extremity microcirculation by 400%.” But innovation is on the rise as this idea of improving sports recovery surfaces. According to Russ Romano, head athletic trainer at USC, the firefly, a device exclusively distributed by Athletic Recovery and Performance, is beginning to change the sports recovery landscape.
Didier Deschamps insisted Paul Pogba cannot win games for Manchester United on his own as the France head coach defended the star midfielder and his leadership qualities.Pogba helped France to World Cup glory in Russia but he has struggled to replicate that form at United in the Premier League amid a tense relationship with manager Jose Mourinho.Mourinho stripped Pogba – who was substituted in Saturday’s shock defeat to West Ham – of his vice-captaincy responsibilities, while the pair were involved in a training-ground confrontation on Wednesday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Man Utd ready to spend big on Sancho and Haaland in January Who is Marcus Thuram? Lilian’s son who is top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach Brazil, beware! Messi and Argentina out for revenge after Copa controversy Best player in MLS? Zlatan wasn’t even the best player in LA! Mourinho has also insisted that “no player is bigger than the club” while addressing the issues with Pogba and claimed that “after weeks of analysing and changing opinions with my coaching staff, we made the decision Paul is just a player and not a captain.”But Deschamps has come to the defence of one of his star men, claiming that the 25-year-old’s attitude has always been positive and pointing out that the way of playing and the team around him may be the issue at the club level. Asked about Pogba’s performances for France compared to his displays at United, Deschamps said: “For Paul it depends not only on him but also the team he is in, the collective way of playing. It is not a case of one player who makes the team win.”Deschamps went to explain that, in his opinion, Pogba’s “demonstrative” attitude may lead to some false representations of him as a player and a person.”There are a few things people ought to know,” he continued. “First of all there is an image of Paul that doesn’t correspond to who he is.”Maybe it is because he is a bit eccentric, a bit demonstrative.”He has been with me since 2013 – that is five years now – and the way he functions is not about him for himself, it is him as part of the group. That is really important.”His image in the media makes everything quite complicated. The amount of the transfer to Manchester United is ridiculous … it wasn’t easy to manage.”During this World Cup he managed to get a normal image back. The fact he talks, it liberates him a bit, but the most important thing is that Paul came to this World Cup with a very precise idea: he wanted to prepare himself to be world champion. That is what he had in his mind.”Deschamps also praised Pogba and his leadership within the France squad, saying: “He has taken many things upon himself. He has been a leader.”Each time he had to talk and express himself it was always very positive. It’s the words he uses and the atmosphere and feeling that comes across.”He is not the only one but he is one of the leaders who took it upon himself because the group needed it. On the pitch he did what needed to be done as well.”