BEMER Can Help an Athlete Improve Their Function

    OCTOBER 6, 2021

    How BEMER Helps NFL Players Stay at the Top of Their Game (Ft. Tom Zheng)

    In this interview with 49ers Performance Therapist Tom Zheng, we explored his day-to-day BEMER strategies for helping players bounce back from practice & game time.

    When you spend almost every day on the field, recovery is a non-stop process.

    Even without any injuries, NFL players deal with daily soreness and muscle fatigue from their rigorous training schedules.

    As a Functional and Performance Therapist for the San Francisco 49ers, Tom Zheng’s job is to help his players optimize their recovery process, leading to more playtime and less bench time.

    Fortunately, we had the pleasure of talking more with Tom this week. Only this time, we focused on his personal strategies for using BEMER PEMF therapy to help his players prime their bodies for (and recover from) practice, bounce back from injuries, and how those strategies change over the course of the season.

    By the way, if you haven’t listened to our two previous interviews with Tom, you won’t want to miss them!

    In the first interview, we explored his background, professional thoughts, and opinions about how BEMER fits in an NFL player’s recovery routine. In the second, Dr. Berka and Tom talked about advanced BEMER methods for maximizing recovery and performance.

    And now, we’re giving you an up-close and personal look at what goes on inside an NFL training room.

    So, let’s jump in, shall we?

    blockBradblockWhat is this time of year like for yourself and the 49ers, as you embark on this 18-week long NFL season? Do you use BEMER differently this time of year than you do later?

    Tom Zheng

    Not at all. It's a pretty consistent usage. It depends completely on the player, where they see it fit in their routine. We have a lot of guys that I generally use it with, like pre-meeting right when they wake up. So the facility opens up at like 5:30 to 6am. Usually, we have at least two players on it in the morning. We do a pre and post-practice as well, depending on the player, but generally, we get a pretty good number of guys that have it in their routine.

    Brad

    Okay. Let me ask you that same exact question but from a non-BEMER perspective. Is your job different this time of year than it is later in the season?

    Tom Zheng

    No, no change whatsoever. So my job, primarily, I see the players pre and post-practice. So in the mornings, I'll do a little bit of prehab with them. So, a lot of correctives based on how they're feeling and what's going on, like if your back hurts, your knee hurts, you're sore from yesterday, things like that. Pre practice, I'll give them a full — basically, it's more like a global movement routine just to get them prepped and primed. Post practice, that's where I play around a little bit more with recovery-based things like modalities, interventions, and different types of resets, depending on, you know, what they do during practice because it's never the same when you're hitting somebody. You know, one day, it could be a shoulder. Another day, it could be a hip. Third day, it could be an ankle, you know?

    Brad

    Yeah. Just to give our listeners a little insight into what goes on in the world of football, do you use BEMER more on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, whatever the first days you guys are back at training, and then do you kind of slow down as you get closer to the game? Or is it still exactly the same every day?

    Tom Zheng

    It actually changes day to day based on the schedule, right? So, we don't practice immediately after a game. We of course give the guys what's called a player recovery day.

    Brad

    Yep.

    Tom Zheng

    So BEMER usage stays pretty consistent. But it just differs depending on the day. Like what I mentioned earlier, if it's like a football day, where we have full-on meetings, full-on practice, and media after, we'll hit it in the morning, we'll hit in pre-practice, we'll hit in post. On days like today, that's more of like — it's considered a regen day. So, the players aren't obligated to come in. It's suggested that you should come in to get a little bit of prehab and rehab done...

    Brad

    Yeah.

    Tom Zheng

    On days like today, it's more sporadic, and I would say the usage is a little bit less actually, because we push more of the movement side of things.

    Brad

    Okay. All right. I'm going to go off-script here, but on any given day, how many BEMER sessions do you think you do?

    Tom Zheng

    Oh, that's a tough one. I'd say anywhere between 15 to 20.

    Brad

    Okay. And I would think intuitively that early in the season, there are fewer injuries than later in the season. But you're saying no, the same amount of people are interested in using BEMER, even though guys might be more banged up at the end of the season.

    Tom Zheng

    Yep, exactly the same. So, things with modalities like this it's all about the educational aspect, which gets the player to buy into it. Believe in it. Because if you don't get that in the beginning of the season, at the end of the season, they're banged up, they're tired, they're sore. They want to go home, they want to lay down, they don't want to do anything. Right? So, the usage right now, ideally, is the same as the usage at the end. You know what I'm saying?

    Brad

    Mhm. Okay, interesting. When you have away games, do you have the luxury of being able to take BEMER along with you?

    Tom Zheng

    100%.

    Brad

    Yeah, okay.

    Tom Zheng

    We take the BEMERs with us pretty much wherever we go. I mean, it's so mobile and packable. Certainly not bad.

    Brad

    Yeah. Nice. Again, going off-script here. Do you ever go into a locker room of a competitive team and see that they're using BEMER too? Have you ever happened to see that?

    Tom Zheng

    No. We actually never go into the other team's locker room. We go straight into the away locker room, so we don't actually visit anybody's facility.

    Brad

    Again, off-topic. Who has the best visitor locker rooms?

    Tom Zheng

    Arizona.

    Brad

    Really?

    Tom Zhen

    Mainly because we spent four weeks there, but their locker room is newer, it's spacious, and things don't smell terrible, hahaha.

    Brad

    Hahaha. Have you been to SoFi yet?

    Tom Zheng

    SoFi? No, actually, I haven't. I haven't. Not yet.

    Brad

    I heard it's nice.

    Tom Zheng

    I heard the Raiders also have a really phenomenal facility.

    Brad

    Oh, yeah. Lucky for you guys, lots of new stadiums. Yeah, so this is a broad question, and, you know, you've answered this multiple times in different ways, but we'll ask it again. So, as a result of playing such a physically demanding sport, how important is proper muscle stimulation, blood flow and circulation to the health and wellbeing of the players?

    Tom Zheng

    It's the second most important thing. The first being sleep, right? If you don't get good sleep, everything goes downhill. I think for every hour of sleep you get under eight, or what you're regularly used to, your performance declines by about 10 to 15%. You check up on that, but I'm 90% sure that's what it is. I read a couple of articles on it. But blood flow is second to that. If you don't have proper blood flow, you don't heal as fast. If you have connective tissue injuries — like sprains, strains, tears, things like that — if you don't get proper blood flow in there, it'll take you longer to bounce back. And a physical sport like this where soreness and contusions are just so common, you really don't want it to fester and become anything worse. So, if you don't have good blood flow, things stick around and gradually become more prominent.

    Brad

    Do you think the players, in this day and age, do they understand the importance of sleep?

    Tom Zheng

    Yeah, I think, especially in the current day, a lot of the research and a lot of performance people like myself are gearing a lot more towards getting good quality sleep. Like, you've probably seen the NBA. They have Oura rings. We used to have Whoop bands, both of which measure quality of sleep, HRV, as well as duration of deep sleep, REM sleep, when you go to sleep...

    Brad

    Do you guys still do that now?

    Tom Zheng

    Some players do.

    Brad

    Do they give you that data to help you do your job?

    Tom Zheng

    That's the thing. Because it is their own personal data, you have a lot of people that are wary of sharing that because there's a lot of trust that goes along with it. So, that's why it's not more of a widespread thing, is because first, you need the player to trust you and buy into it.

    Brad

    So, I guess that's good news that they understand the importance of sleep. Do you think they understand the importance of muscle stimulation and blood flow, or do you need to educate them about that?

    Tom Zheng

    There's always more you can educate them with, but I think as the years have gone on, the new players are a little bit more aware of the recovery aspects, because I think the NCAA is doing a better job of that: Giving you more of an educated player.

    Brad

    Do you think — yeah, I'm just going off script here just for fun — do you think with the success people have seen with, you know, Tom Brady or some of these other players, playing so late into their career that people are taking it more seriously?... I mean, do you think that seeing the success like Tom Brady has at 43, do you think that helps? Like people are just getting smarter and it's now become cool to train hard?

    Tom Zheng

    Yeah... I think it's actually cool to be a nerd now. Like these players that are coming out, they're smart, they care about their bodies, they know a lot of things that they've done even in college and in high school that have helped. And I think whoever has brought them up has done a better job of educating them. Like, you'd be surprised at how many players don't even drink alcohol.

    Brad

    Yeah?

    Tom Zheng

    You'd be surprised. Not just now, but even in college. Players like Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady, LeBron James. Big iconic guys like that have had damn-near 20-year careers. They share all the things they do for their bodies. You get a lot of young guys looking up to them.

    Brad

    Do you think they really share all their secrets or?

    Tom Zheng

    No. No, not at all. Hahaha.

    Brad

    Hahaha you know, again, off-topic, but the one nice thing you’ve done for us is you've obviously connected us with a couple other athletes. And it's nice that they get an education from you, and then they get traded or whatever, they're on a different team, and then they still want to do the same things that you've trained them on, and they'll reach out to us about BEMER, which is awesome. So thank you for that. Question about the different programs or settings that you might use on BEMER. Is there any seasonality to that? Or do you have a go-to program that you tend to use for certain athletes or when they're getting started with BEMER versus somebody that's been using BEMER for a season or two? How do you think about which programs you're going to use for who?

    Tom Zheng

    So it strictly depends on the time of day, right? As well as what area of the body you're targeting, right? Like a program for a wrist, which has a lot less mass than, let's say, a thigh, a quad, a hamstring, I usually go with a little bit less intensity. In the mornings, I'll go with a higher intensity program versus in the evenings, I'd go with a lower intensity, just for an effect on the central nervous system.

    Brad

    Mhm.

    Tom Zheng

    So that's how I kind of built out the programs. I took the 1, 2, 3, and used them as blueprints for a build. So then I'll have a slow-build one, high-build one, and then just a super high-intensity one. After soft tissue trauma, like let's say, a guy runs and he strains his hamstring, right? You don't really want to go with the level 10 on there, like right off the bat. So, you'll have a slow build, like the first couple of days you'll go, "Alright, you'll be on there for 16 minutes." That's gonna go like 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, 4, 4, all the way up to a 6. And then, gradually, you'll build it as they get more tolerance.

    Evan

    Do you ever manipulate the time periods on them, as well? Like, you said you adjusted the intensities. Do you ever manipulate the length and duration of the programs or the settings that you're on? Does it depend on the time that you use it as well?

    Tom Zheng

    In regards to how long it goes?

    Evan

    Yeah, how long the program... So you said you have a program that builds on it. Do those time differences change, or do you kind of use the same time when you target those issues with that?

    Tom Zheng

    I use a base program based on what type of soft tissue it is… You really don't want to stimulate the body that much, especially in the 48 hours where it's a pro-inflammatory period. So you would go with very, very low intensity, maybe a longer duration as well, and you would also get the surrounding areas. And as the player gets a little better, tissue starts recovering, you're in the remodeling phase. Now you can go into a little bit higher intensity, as well as physical manipulation of the tissue or some type of activation while they're on the B.BODY.

    Brad

    Interesting.

    Tom Zheng

    Does that answer the question?

    Brad

    Yeah. And you normally do that then with the B.BODY on a massage table, so they're kind of like getting a BEMER session while you're...

    Tom Zheng

    Let me show you. So we actually have — this is normally how I set them up. So, they'll have their legs up, on their back on the B.BODY. Or they'll be sitting on that with a B.PAD or a B.SPOT on something depending on what’s going on. But normally, if nothing's wrong and you're just a little sore, you'll throw your legs up. That'll help take the stress off the low back area. It'll help relax the paraspinals back here, because everybody has a tight back, right? And then we'll go either like a B.PAD or a B.SPOT on a particular area. If you're a fast guy, your hamstrings are always going to be tight. So that's where they'll usually go for a fast guy. If you've had previous ankle trouble, knee trouble... There's a high variety of it, right? And then, to Evans point, that dictates what type of program we're going to be on, right? In terms of intensity, duration, and whatnot.

    Brad

    Okay.

    Tom Zheng

    So, when we go into the activation or manipulation phase, that solely depends on what type of tissue it is. If it's like a glute, if it's a hamstring, I'll probably take the block out, and I'll do some stuff while they're on the B.BODY with either a B.SPOT or the B.PAD. We'll have guys with — like a lot of big guys have patellar issues, right? So they'll have two B.SPOTs on both knees, and as they're going through it, they'll do some foot circles for internal and external tibial rotation — things like that. It varies depending on the athlete.

    Brad

    So, between all the different applicators — between the B.BODY, right, the mat, and the B.PAD, it sounds like you use a little bit of them all — do you have any sense of like, 70% of the time you're using the B.BODY and 20% you're using the B.PAD? Just kind of a general sense. How often do you use which applicators?

    Tom Zheng

    I would say a good rule of thumb is: Anything connective tissue wise I would use the B.SPOT. Anything broad, like a hamstring, I'll most likely use the B.PAD. And just in general, if nothing's really wrong with you, you'll lay on the B.BODY.

    Brad

    Yeah. You ever have any players fall asleep on the B.BODY when you're on a low setting, like a one or two?

    Tom Zheng

    A couple, a couple, hahaha.

    Brad

    Hahaha I mean, maybe it's all in my head, but I swear if I put it on one or two, I can fall asleep. But if I'm going to the gym, I'll crank it up to a four or a five.

    Tom Zheng

    Yeah.

    Brad

    Okay, so last one. So, what is the most common response from athletes when you're first telling them like, hey, I've got this thing called BEMER. Let me tell you about it. Like, what's your elevator pitch? How do you tell them what it is and what it does?

    Tom Zheng

    Great question. So, it uses a pulsed electromagnetic field to stimulate your muscles to contract and relax, which helps temporarily increase local circulation. And on the microscopic level, you have smaller blood vessels that basically help your red blood cells carry oxygen. It's a really good idea to get excess blood flow in there, as well as to restore the vasomotion — the contraction, dilation of your blood vessels. So, hop on.

    Brad

    Very well said, wow!

    Tom Zheng

    Usually, after that, they're kind of like, "Oh, alright. Let's go!"

    Brad

    Okay, well, that's about it for our questions. It's always interesting if you have any kind of funny anecdotes about how players use BEMER... You know, you obviously don't have to mention any names or anything, but just anything interesting that our viewers might find funny, different, insightful? Something they wouldn't know about that goes on in the training room?

    Tom Zheng

    Alright, so the biggest thing is, you don't really feel the BEMER. Or most people don't feel the BEMER, right?

    Brad

    Correct.

    Tom Zheng

    The one time I've noticed somebody feel it immediately was when they had a big toe ligament issue. So, I think it's very dependent of course on the player, how kinesthetic they are...

    Brad

    Yep.

    Tom Zheng

    ...But also how big the joint is and what's actually going on. So I don't know if that's anecdotal, but that's just something I've noticed.

    Brad

    Yeah. What was the body size of that particular player? Big Guy? Little guy?

    Tom Zheng

    Medium. Like about 230.

    Brad

    Yeah. Huh. Interesting. You should definitely share that with Dr. Berka. I'm sure he's probably got some insight on why. That's interesting… Okay, well, that's everything we have.

    Tom Zheng

    Alright, sounds good. Thank you guys!

    Brad

    Thanks a lot, and enjoy the rest of your day!

    Tom Zheng

    Thanks! All right. Bye bye.

    Stay Tuned for More Interviews Like These Coming Soon

    If you enjoyed this exclusive look at what goes on in the 49ers training room, we’ll be bringing Tom on again in the future. So, keep an eye on our blog!

    In the meantime, if you want to experience results trusted by the pros, contact your local BEMER distributor today.

    Two eight-minute sessions a day is all it takes to stimulate your muscles and enhance your circulation, recovery, performance, and overall well being!

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    BEMER does not provide any medical advice or services. This device is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It should not be used for any purpose other than as described in the user manual. Please consult your own healthcare provider if you have any medical issues.

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