Double disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, for medical advice consult your physician. Also, this contains affiliate links. I am sharing this because it really helped.
The TimTam power massager is part of a growing trend in sports recovery. It comes with 30-day money-back guarantee, so a co-worker friend and I used some health benefits money from to buy one.
I was skeptical at first, but I thought the Facebooks ads looked cool. They feature someone way stronger than me using the TimTam, and it sends ripples through their muscle as the massager does its work. When I saw that, I thought “I’m going to feel something. I’m not sure it’s going to be useful for recovery, but I’m going to feel something.”
Stretching my Hammies to help my Achilles?
I’m a 35 year old and I’ve been playing 3–5 times a week for years. I don’t stretch very much as I prefer to warm up by running a little first. Then I stretch out as I play. I’m also usually squeezing games into the work day or into our childcare schedule, so it’s rare that I take any time to stretch afterwards. From my observations, this is normal for older casual athletes, even though we need to stretch the most.
This regimen and other behavioral factors left me with a very sore left Achilles by the time the TimTam arrived. My Achilles tendon had been sore for months, requiring basically an entire pickup game to warm up. My running felt ‘clunky’ if I wasn’t warmed up, and I was nowhere near as quick or powerful as I could be.
All of the advice for sore Achilles on the internet recommended Achilles and calf stretches, which I had been doing for months. These stretches barely helped, and mostly served as confirmation that I was sore. I still had to run for a while to get loose.
One night I was laying in bed and I started stretching my legs. Laying on my back, I threw my leg up towards the ceiling and stretched my hamstring for a while. It felt good, I realized I hadn’t done that exact stretch for a while.
The next day I noticed less tension on my Achilles! Of course — this whole posterior chain is connected. Is it possible that the soreness in my Achilles was partially caused by hamstring pain? I was relieved, but also I was really disappointed that I didn’t find any advice like this online.
TimTam plus Hammy Stretch
Stretching my hamstring the day before basketball seemed to really help my Achilles. Could I use the TimTam to enhance the effects?
For this, I turned to the Kelley Starrett videos on the TimTam site. Kelley Starrett is a flexiblity/ mobility nerd famous in the world of CrossFit. I first learned about him on the Tim Ferriss show. When I saw Starrett had videos on the TimTam site, that was a credibility indicator to me.
In Starrett’s instructional TimTam videos, he recommends actually stretching and flexing the muscle while applying the power massager. I tried this. I went into my garage (this power massager is too loud for the house or office with other people around), propped my leg up, and dug into my hamstring.
I could feel the power massager shaking up my tight muscle. It was not exactly a pleasant sensation, but it wasn’t outright painful. As Starrett instructed, I pushed the massager into my muscle as it worked and as long as I could take a deep breath, I knew I wasn’t doing damage.
I did this for about 3–5 minutes on my left hamstring (the side with the problematic Achilles) and spent maybe 2–3 minutes on the right side. I also hit my calves and shins, but not with the same intensity.
The next day when I laced them up and started feeling out my Achilles, it felt much better. My running was no longer clunky. When I went to jump or accelerate, there was no longer massive soreness in my left achilles. Sometimes there was still a pinch, but nothing like before.
Starrett explains that the TimTam can work in at least two ways: First, it breaks up fascial tissue that is stuck causing mobility issues. The power massager is able to do much more efficiently than you can do by stretching alone. Secondly, the power massager is such an intense sensation that it resets some of your nerve pathways that were also damaged and might be holding residual pain signals for tissue that has actually recovered. (I might be in way over my head on that, but that’s how I understood it).
These days my Achilles feels way better. I still use stretch and use the TimTam, but it’s never been as sore as it was before.
These tools are pricey. 3 thoughts in case you’re not ready to pull the trigger.
Remember, the biggest revelation for me was that my hamstring flexibility could affect my Achilles. The TimTam enhanced the stretching work, but if you’re on a budget with a sore Achilles, just trying stretching and rolling your hamstring first.
If you’ve got time and some hardware skills, there are actually DIY versions online. If the rumors are true, the original power massagers were simply repurposed, reworked power tools.
Finally, if you don’t have time or skills and you’ve got plenty of money — don’t waste your precious time debating a $200 purchase. Your time is precious. I wish I had bought mine sooner.