JULY 23, 2021
Tom Zheng, former Performance Therapist for the 49ers, learns advanced recovery and performance-boosting BEMER techniques from Dr. Berka
In the past couple weeks, we got to sit down with Tom Zheng again and chat some more about BEMER.
Tom was a Functional Performance Therapist for the San Francisco 49ers, and for the past few years, he’s been using BEMER therapy to enhance his players’ performance, rehabilitation, and recovery.*
You can check out our first interview with him here.
This time, Dr. Berka shared some creative and exciting BEMER applications for NFL athletes, combining certain therapies with BEMER, recovery techniques for specific injuries, and a whole lot more.
In today’s article, we’re giving you an inside look at this conversation between two industry leaders working together to stretch the limits of recovery and performance.
Dr. Berka: So, I read through the previous blog that you did with marketing. A lot of good stuff on recovery, regeneration, and performance. One of the things that weren’t discussed that I wanted to talk with you about: Are you using the B.BODY or are you only using the B.PAD and B.SPOT right now?
Tom: Oh, no, we use everything.
Dr. Berka: Okay. As far as specific injuries and stuff, have you had a chance to watch some of the videos?
Tom: I have. I actually had a follow-up question on that.
Dr. Berka: Fire away.
Tom: Please tell me your experience with the application of BEMER after someone has taken a hit in the helmet––after a “noggin’ knockin.’”
Dr. Berka: …So, even though the issue may be associated with the head or neck, it’s recommended to have BEMER use over the head, face or neck cleared by the doctor before use. One doesn’t have to use BEMER over the head to get results that may have affected the cranium.
In fact, I don’t. I use the full-body, because when you get a strike to the head in this way or a vector of force, however it is, you have that structural transmission of force moving through, which can––if it’s not transferring through, and it’s getting stuck––that vibration disrupts the molecular, the structural, and the functional aspects of that tissue. And you literally get shell-shocked, and that affects the whole body.
And so you can not just target where the hit was, you can target the entire spine, the nervous system with the B.BODY and that would be my first-line therapy is full-body application.
Because I am a doctor, I do use the BEMER transcranially at times for direct results. I run the B.PAD vertically up the spine, with the center coil behind the head, and run it down the spine, using Program 1, with the plus signal (low setting). The plus signal is important because when an athlete takes a hit in this way, and they get a little banged up, that neurovascular interaction becomes disrupted. If you had a doppler sensor and could go into the brain and vasomotor functionality, it literally, the vasomotion, instead of moving-
Tom: It stagnates.
Dr. Berka: -it’s locked up, and sometimes it will not resuscitate; maybe you will have oscillations of the microvessels occurring every five minutes, seven minutes until that trauma is resolved mentally, physically, emotionally, whatever it is. In between that, you have all the symptoms of brain fog, neurovascular disconnectivity, and other issues that both, directly and indirectly, affect performance.
So yeah, you want to use this immediately upon evaluation. I wouldn’t necessarily incorporate this on the field––I mean if you want to. I’ve used it in that way…So, P1, low setting, plus signal. And that puts the B.PAD at the same power output as just the B.BODY…
Dr. Berka: And then over time, think of that as the jumpstart like the AED (automated external defibrillator) where you’re jumpstarting the heart, and then the body kind of keeps it going.
Tom: Cool, cool. I’m with it.
Dr. Berka: Cool. All right…How have you been doing with strains, sprains, and soft tissue issues?
Tom: That’s usually one of the primary applications that we’ve used BEMER for. Especially to help with minor swelling. We haven’t had any bone fractures, knock on wood.
Dr. Berka: And are you guys using the compression leggings? The Normatecs?
Tom: Yeah, we have plenty of Normatecs.
Dr. Berka: Are you using it simultaneously with BEMER?
Tom: I am not.
Dr. Berka: Cool. This is an option. And what I mean by this is: those programs on the Normatecs are for about 30 minutes, right?
Dr. Berka: Right. And so you can run BEMER simultaneously with those on the body, so you don’t have to double time…If it’s someone you’re working very strongly on, you can run that combination therapy. But if it’s someone where you want to split up the tables, you can do it…But the Normatec combination is really nice…because you’re not going to have any adverse effects using that combination. You’re going to work in synchronicity or in conjunction or adjunctively with each other.
Tom: So would it just improve the overall quality of the vasomotion? Is that what it is?
Dr. Berka: So, the Normatec system is hydraulic, in essence. It’s like pulsing and vibrating, and then it’s opening. So, you’re working on the lymphatics like a breathing mechanism. You’re compressing, releasing. Compressing, releasing. That’s not improving vasomotion.
But BEMER focusing on vasomotion can then get into the microvasculature…Not just microvascular, precapillary arterioles, and venules. The post-capillary lymphatic collecting ducts are key to microcirculation, and in my opinion, one of the most important parts of clearing waste products from damaged or overly-performed tissue.
So the lymphatics are huge and doing that combination, one is efficient and time-saving, and they’re good team players…
Tom: I dig it. I dig it. That’s a really good point. I didn’t even think about that.
Dr. Berka: Cool. Cool. So that’s a great time saver and you can double hit on that one.
Tom: Follow-up question to that. Now, your water immersion, hot and cold therapy contrast tubs. What are your thoughts on prior use or post use with that in conjunction with BEMER?
Dr. Berka: Cool. One of the things that I like to do is I like to do those raw therapies first. And when I say this, I do three threes…Three minutes hot, thirty seconds cold. In and out, into the cold plunge, and then ending on cold. Giving the body a chance to recover from that, and then I would drive them into the BEMER and or the Normatec combination. A lot of the guys will do that, then they’ll jump in the steam room, and it just ruins it because then you’re just opening your vessels all up.
Tom: What’s the science behind doing the water immersion or the contrast prior as opposed to post?
Dr. Berka: So my thought process on this: First of all, contrast hydrotherapy is one of the original vasomotor stimulators that exists in nature. So in doing that contrast, you’re vasoconstricting, vasodilating. You’re kind of priming up the neurovascular interrelationship.
The goal is to end on cold, and then you could just walk away and the body should be able to do it on its own. I’m saying to put a little trickle charge of the BEMER in there and help it remember how to calibrate––almost focusing on those nerves in small vessels. So I use it as a kind of the icing or glazing on the cake after that hardcore type of physical application.
Tom: Got it, okay. I’m with that…Have you guys––speaking of cold therapy––have you guys done anything with BEMER as well as cryo? I know a lot of guys who love two things: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and cryotherapy.
Dr. Berka: Both of them, okay. We know the mechanism of action of hyperbarics. It’s forcing the oxygen into the body. Once you get out of that pressurized system, your body will have responses to it, but it won’t maintain for long periods of time, which is fine. It brings the body up to that level…
What I’ll generally do is use BEMER right before. Get the vasomotion working properly, and then drive the oxygen even further, deeper into the tissue. Or simultaneously. Do you want to bring the BEMER into one of the chambers?
Tom: That was actually what I was curious about.
Dr. Berka: Well, before or simultaneously are my options. And because of the type of folks you work with and the importance of timing and efficiency, you can double it up…Are you talking soft chambers? Or do you guys have hard?
Tom: Hard chambers.
Dr. Berka: Got it. Got it. Got it…So these individuals are sitting for about how long in the freezer?
Tom: About three minutes. So that would follow along the same lines of like water immersion, right? You would want to do that first?
Dr. Berka: Same story. You’re shocking the body, in the sense of how the body is creating resiliency. You walk in with open pores. They have to shut down and then open back up again…
So in this situation, with the cryo, I would probably finish with the BEMER on a low setting because you’re contracting the vessels. And then BEMER can be that neurovascular regulator that helps to open them back up…
Tom: Okay, I dig it. Follow up on that. Now, I generally use the PAD for a lot of hamstrings, right? Because fast guys always hurt their hamstrings. So, have you guys done anything specific in terms of hamstring regeneration with the PAD, or not?
Dr. Berka: No…If I’m going for the hamstrings, I’m going in between the knees where the stabilization points of the knees are, and of course the pelvic floor. A lot of times, I’ll run it right in between the guy’s legs, literally. And you can go to program three. I’ll take this coil right at the top, fold it over, and literally, right between this area (places B.PAD in between legs), so you’re getting the coils right between the legs, and it will pulse through the sides, the hamstrings. Even on a program one, I can put the B.PAD here and it’ll be able to go right through these guys’ legs with the pulsed electromagnetic field.
Or the other item is when you’re laying them on the B.BODY. The B.BODY only has coils here (points at chest), here (points at upper abdomen), and then at the bottom below the knees. So the hams and the low back and the lower abdomen are not on the B.BODY. And so in those situations, I generally will place this [B.PAD] underneath the hamstrings, right at the insertion points.
Tom: That’s what I’ve been doing.
Dr. Berka: Nice, good…
A lot of times those hamstrings are pulling and disrupting the gait as you know…If I do a program three, for example, that’s a 20-minute long program…And after four minutes, I’ll move it up to under the sacrum, and go along the sides of the piriformis area. Then I’ll raise it after four more minutes and get to the lower back, or go down, however you want to do it.
So, you don’t have to have the piece, or the applicator, in one place all the time in the same spot. In fact, I recommend moving it a little bit after certain time frames. But wherever you want it the highest, you want it at the end. Wherever you want it the lowest, you want it at the beginning.
So I do the same thing with the shoulders. If I’m coming from the neck, I’ll do four minutes on my neck, four minutes over the shoulders, and then down, either flipping it horizontal to the spine or even down lower. And that’s something that can be done while someone’s on their phone or whatever they’re doing on the side. You know how it is.
Tom: Oh, absolutely. There’s no way you can tell somebody to not be on their phone for 20 minutes on their back. Unless they’re sleeping. So, follow up on that. What are your thoughts on doing isometric contractions while you’re having a BEMER wrapped around like a thigh, or wrapped around an ankle?
Dr. Berka: I do it all the time…So you can do it by either standing or laying on the B.BODY.
But the B.PAD is what I use most often for this. And I’ll use it over a certain stretching or an isometric pattern that I know takes eight minutes…sixteen-minutes, or twenty-minutes. And I’ll arrange the program specifically for that. And you can program your own if you want to…
Tom: Cool. Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve got like three eight-minute, three sixteen, and three twenty-minute programs.
Dr. Berka: Nice…
***NOTE: In the conversation below, Dr. Berka is referring back to a previous topic of discussion that we chose to remove in the interest of keeping this article focused on BEMER. Earlier, Tom and Dr. Berka were talking about using Oura rings to track players’ vitals and other crucial metrics, like their oxygen saturation while sleeping.
Dr. Berka: I’m really intrigued with your oxygen sensor because you’re not going to get the same saturation rates…But at night, we almost go into a state of shock…and it’s this rhythm of going into preservation, releasing into gathering information.
You go into the preservation stage, and if you’re able to track that, you’ll be able to truly identify resiliency. The potential performance of a player, versus just looking at how they’re doing, and you can focus on areas of weakness or loopholes in their system––almost biohack them in that way.
Tom: Well, that’s the biggest question I had with the O2 rates, because speaking with a neuroscientist…anytime your O2 saturation drops below 85, you’re basically apneic, and that severely impacts both brain rhythm, recovery rate, all of that jazz.
So, what he’s found in his about, maybe 12 years of study, is that––well, he’s worked with the NBA a lot and their sleep rhythm is awful. So anytime that an athlete, for example, has like three hours below X mark, they’re gonna feel terrible the next day.
Dr. Berka: Guaranteed.
Tom: They’re working capacity is going to be way worse, right? And a lot of that could be corrected by, he says, not training, of course––you know scientists––sleep position, as well as overall blood flow, right?
Dr. Berka: That’s right. And glymphatic drainage is the most important part that we always talk about. The glymphatic drainage, which can only activate when you’re at specific thresholds of rhythms of sleep––delta rhythm.
Tom: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Dr. Berka: Yeah, you can’t drain your brain unless you’re achieving deep sleep for certain phases. It’s like a sluice gate. It opens and closes, especially if you had some serious stuff with jugular stenosis or inflammation in that way.
So, dysfunctional glymphatic drainage is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of people who aren’t sleeping well. It’s important to get the glymphatic system draining.
BEMER supports that by reregulation of those microvessels, really working instead of like the Normatecs, pumping big rhythms. These are millions of micropumps that are happening to help regulate that and bring the body into a circadian rhythm that’s in balance with the autonomic regulatory system.
Tom: Basically, homeostasis.
Dr. Berka: Totally. And that’s our goal. Whoever stays tightest in the homeostatic mechanisms are the individuals who are the highest performers. That’s the difference between good and great.
Tom: Cool, I dig it. I’m with it because, you know, concussions are big.
Dr. Berka: Totally. And that’s where I would focus on this, even on a preventive level, to build the resiliency of these players. So when they are hit, they can bounce back better.
Tom: Mhm. Mhm. Cool.
Dr. Berka: Ultimately this is about collaboration, supporting the industry, and truly optimizing potential performance and recovery. And when they win, the coaches, the players, everyone wins. So that’s exciting for me, and I’m glad that you’re integrating this [BEMER] as one of your tools for physical therapy.
So there you have it, folks…
An insider’s look at how BEMER PEMF therapy can help athletes at the highest level of competition reach their full potential and gain an edge on the field.
As always, it was an honor to have Tom on with us, and we’re excited to keep collaborating with him and his incredible team of athletes.
We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did, and we’re looking forward to bringing you more behind-the-scenes content just like this.
If you’re ready to transform your recovery and performance in just two eight-minute sessions a day, click here to find a distributor near you. With BEMER, professional-level recovery is at your fingertips.
*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
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.
BEMER USA LLC is a leader in the field of microcirculation. BEMER Group North America, 1989 Palomar Oaks Way, Carlsbad, CA 92011