Gear editor and Sports Massage Therapist Sophie Nicholson puts some of the latest rehab and pain management systems to the test
Spec: BlackBoard Foot Training System with x2 bars (long and short). Printed manual. 45 Minute Video workshop.
A healthy foot is extremely important for a healthy body. The problem is that the foot is also super complicated. With 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments it can be super tricky to get a handle on the cause of any foot problem yet it’s absolutely essential to avoid the knock on effects being felt further up the chain in the knees, hip and spine. Having struggled with a persistent foot/ankle injury over the years that’s stubbornly refused to effectively respond to countless hours of physio, wobble board exercises and even a spell under the knife, I was stoked to come across the BlackBoard Training System earlier this year.
Developed by physio Lars Grandjot and sports scientist Gregor Stumpf, the ISPO award-winning BlackBoard offers a new treatment method designed specifically to activate, mobilise and train the entire foot.Constructed using two connected wooden platforms that move independently, it enables users to isolate the specific movements of the forefoot and rear foot by placing the wooden bars underneath the BlackBoard in particular positions to mobilise and target deficient muscles and strengthen neuronal connections.
Having read the manual and watched the associated video, I started using the BlackBoard and could feel a difference within minutes. All the hurrahs! The video explained how my foot ‘should’ feel and move, offering both anatomical education and awareness to hone in on my personal areas of weakness. Combined with the Blackboard device itself and the training exercises, I believe I now have the necessary tools to mobilize, activate and strengthen my foot. Since I started using the device I have noticed a marked difference when skinning and skiing and am now able to do back to back 1,200m+ days in the backcountry with zero adverse effects.
Spec: 50 x 30 cm breathable high tech memory foam pillow. Ergonomic shape with x4 sleeping positions. Travel-friendly. Made in Germany.
If you’re anything like me the prospect of sleeping with one flat pillow sounds like the kind of torture reserved for little orphan Annie. For years now I’ve been a fully signed up member of the two soft, fluffy pillows club, attempting to replicate the comforts found in high-end hotels in my own slightly less than five star bed at home.
But things have changed folks and they’ve changed thanks to the Blackroll Recovery Pillow that winged its way to Casa Nicholson for testing a couple of months back.
Measuring just 50 x 30 cm, this low profile pillow may look less than impressive but holy heck, it does a remarkable job of helping you sleep like a baby. Plus it’s small and rolls up easily to fit in a bag so you can take it with you on your ski trip – handy.
Made from breathable high tech memory foam, it’s soft yet supportive and comes with x4 recommended sleeping positions for all types of sleepers (stomach sleepers, backsleepers, sidesleepers with narrow shoulders and sidesleepers with broad shoulders) – all designed to relieve shoulder and neck tension.
Having smashed up my left shoulder good and proper in my previous life as a snowboarder, I often suffer from sporadic discomfort in my left shoulder and neck, particularly in the winter months or whenever I’m sat at my desk for too long (hello Gear Guide). I can honestly say that since I’ve started using the Blackroll Recovery Pillow, this tension and pain has all but totally disappeared. I use it in Position 3 – the sidesleeper with narrow shoulders position – which keeps my head in line with my shoulders, thereby keeping my neck and head aligned when sleeping and relieving any associated pressure.
Another excellent benefit of having such a small pillow is that it rolls up easily so you can pop it in a bag to take with you on your ski trip. You know what they say about small packages…..
Spec: Bioelectrical massage device with x5 apps (pain, pain+, performance, recovery and microcurrent/MC-2. x2 electrode treatment wires and x4 pairs of EcoLife series application pads (x2 large, x2 medium). USB charging cable. Quick start guide. 2 year warranty. 30 day money back guarantee.
If you’re fed up of relentlessly popping pills to manage your pain, this portable bioelectrical massage device is a very impressive alternative one-stop therapy shop for a wide range of soft tissue problems.
I’ve used the NuroKor MiTouch for a whole host of issues including rehabbing a tender Achilles, pain relief from desk-induced sciatic problems, lower limb muscle activation post ankle-surgery and general aches and pains following big days in the mountains.
There are five easy-to-use apps specifically designed to target different problem areas – Pain, Pain+, Performance, Recovery and MC-2. I’d definitely worth watching the ‘How to use NuroKor MiTouch’ video on YouTube to familiarize yourself with each setting as it does a great job of explaining the tech in easy-to-understand terminology.
What makes the NuroKor different from other comparable devices is the MC-2 mode that uses quadwave microcurrent to stimulate the nervous system and speed up the body’s healing process by increasing production of the wonder molecule Adenosine Triphosphate – aka ATP.
No matter which mode I’m using I always finish any treatment with half an hour on MC-2 mode and whilst it isn’t a miracle cure for all the trauma I’ve put my body through over the years, I always notice improvements following a session with the NuroKor.
Is it worth £399? It’s hard to say but if you weigh up the financial and detrimental health costs of packet after packet of painkillers then it’s most definitely worth a look. Plus it’s the current device of choice for heaps of high profile UK skiers including Chemmy Alcott, Charlie Guest and Pam Thorburn.
One final thing – make sure you wipe the pads with a damp cloth after use to keep them clean and if you’re struggling to get them to stick then pop ‘em in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Spec: Professional grade percussive therapy device with customizable speed range. QX150 motor with QuietForce Technology. 300 minute battery life. Rotating arm and ergonomic multi-grip. Smart App integration via Bluetooth.
This top of the range percussive massage gun is all the rage on social media where you’ll find countless videos of pro athletes and fitness influencers giving their ripped and rippling muscles a solid dose of Theragun love.
There’s no doubting the success of the brand’s marketing campaign and thankfully it turns out the device itself is equally impressive.
Designed to speed up the recovery process by deeply penetrating muscles to release knots and tension, the Theragun Pro generates percussive force using a scientifically-calibrated combination of 16 mm of amplitude and an unlimited speed range.
Whether you’re using it to warm your muscles up ahead of exercise, to speed up recovery time post-workout or simply for pain relief, the results are both immediate and impressive. As a super active household, we have a host of recovery devices and the Theragun definitely gets the most use. I tend to use it mostly to help relieve aching limbs after consecutive days on the hill whilst my partner Duncan uses it on a daily basis to help him stay on top of his lower back pain. Other users have reported improvements in sleep quality and whilst I haven’t specifically noticed this myself.
It comes with a choice of head attachments to target different areas of the body, is super easy to use and the ergonomic, adjustable arm allows you to reach awkward places like your upper back without having to call on someone else for help.
The downside is of course the eye-streaming cost. £549 for an accessory is no small outlay but if you’re a devoted athlete living a very active lifestyle, it’s a justifiable investment with guaranteed returns.