There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
What We Tried
Fiix Elbow, a tennis elbow treatment device that leverages established therapeutic practices in the comfort of your own home.
Your Fiix Elbow User
Tony Covey – resident jack-of-all-trades (and master of absolutely nothing) who missed out on the better part of six months of golf with a bad elbow. I can’t be the only one.
How I Got Here
About a year and a half ago, I noticed stiffness in my right arm while lying in bed. The pain wasn’t intense; more of an I should stretch that kind of feeling.
Over time, the pain, which localized in my forearm, grew more constant. I edit a ton of pictures (golf clubs and occasionally the dogs and kid – in that order) in Adobe Lightroom. I’m talking dozens, sometimes more than a hundred at a time. Something about the angle of the arm during the editing process was an absolute killer. I started needing stretch breaks every five images or so.
Initially, I thought playing golf was to blame for the problem, but in retrospect, I’m reasonably sure deskwork was the root cause.
Lawn Mowers and Claw Machines
The other nightmare scenario was mowing the lawn. Last year, I bought an EGO battery powered mower. Not having to buy gas seemed like a good idea at the time but when your tendons have gone to crap, the batteries get heavy fast. Lifting them out of the charger requires a motion akin to a claw machine. Reach, clamp, lift … and wince.
At some point, the elbow became so bad I couldn’t swap a battery with my once-dominant arm. My wife would have to mow the lawn. As if that would ever happen. Seriously … one time in 15 years. Is that too much to ask?
As summer rolled into fall, I couldn’t swing a golf club without pain (and more pain the next day). So other than a couple of fall manufacturer visits, I basically shut it down entirely.
Take a break. You’ll be fine by spring … that was my thinking.
…But I Don’t Play Tennis
By late November, things weren’t any better. It never occurred to me because I’d never experienced it before (and because the pain was predominantly in my forearm) but over Thanksgiving dinner, my brother’s father-in-law (an orthopedic surgeon) settled on tennis elbow as the most likely cause.
I don’t play tennis but fun fact, neither do the overwhelming majority of people with tennis elbow.
A week later, I went in for a cortisone shot. Injecting goo into irons makes them better so it makes perfect sense that it would make my arm better too.
The cortisone helped a little but not for long. By March, my elbow was still garbage. I’m a worst-case scenario guy so with COVID emerging as something to worry about, I didn’t really want to deal with another doctor visit or the prospect of surgery.
So, I tweaked the original plan. Rest, but this time stretch, too. Recovery is a thinking man’s game.
The “live with it and wait and see” approach wasn’t the worst. The rest wasn’t helping much but not doing anything wasn’t making it worse. At the time, golf courses were COVID-closed so I wasn’t missing much anyway.
Fiix Elbow – My Intro
Early spring is a busy time at MyGolfSpy. The buying season is ramping up and lots of new toys are hitting the market. We’re talking to a lot of people about a lot of things.
I was on a call with a Minneapolis-area golf pro who wanted me to try his new swing-speed training aid. I told him I’d be happy to take a look, but …
He heard the same story I just told you and how I wasn’t doing much swinging (I skipped the part about my wife not mowing the lawn) and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to swing at all.
That’s when he said, “I’m going to put you in touch with my friend Tim.”
OK, Let’s Talk to Tim
Tim is Tim Porth, one of the founders of Octane Fitness. Having sold his elliptical business to fitness giant Nautilus, Tim and another Octane founder partnered with a pair of physical therapists to develop the Fiix Elbow.
Described as a tendinitis and tennis elbow recovery device, the Fiix Elbow by Stā Active replicates IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue massage) treatments in the comfort of your own home.
Your one-sentence overview is that IASTM is a well-established and proven treatment that works by disrupting adhesions and scar tissue and increasing blood flow, which promotes healthy tissue growth.
I repeated my story to Tim. He thought the device his team developed might be able to help. Less than a week later, a grip strength tester, a prototype Fiix Elbow and, short of TaylorMade NDA, more paperwork than we typically deal with at MyGolfSpy arrived.
Talking to one guy about a training aid only to connect with another and ending up in a clinical trial might be the oddest confluence of events in my decade-plus at MGS but, whatever, it made for some quality discussion fodder on No Putts Given (at the time the company was called Sta Active), so it was worth it.
Frankly, I had no idea if the Fiix Elbow would work but since doing mostly nothing and stretching wasn’t really helping either, I figured,” What the hell?” So I strapped in (literally) for eight weeks of home therapy.
Using the Fiix Elbow
Using the Fiix Elbow requires a little bit of lube and just 10 minutes of your time. I realize, for some of you, that’s just another Saturday night but the point is there’s not much complexity nor much of a time commitment involved: Ten minutes, three times a week (and a little bit of stretching) for eight weeks. Sit, stand, lay down; it doesn’t much matter.
On a side note, my wife wasn’t a big fan of the odor of the original lube. It was a formidable scent. Given its heavy Sex Panther kind of vibe, your Saturday nights almost certainly went better than mine for a while. The new formulation doesn’t sting the nostrils like the original.
Strap the Fiix Elbow to your bad arm and let it do its thing. You can vary the intensity by tightening the strap and by flexing your wrist. You can shift the Fiix Elbow around to target specific areas but mostly it just runs until it stops and you’re done.
Fiix Elbow – Worse Before It Gets Better
Tim warned me that the pain might get worse before it gets better and that proved to be true. The first couple of weeks were brutal. I definitely wasn’t swinging a club the next day and banging away on the keyboard and mouse wasn’t particularly awesome either. For a while, my previous “rest and do nothing” approach was looking like the better plan.
By the end of Week 3, things were leveling off and by Week 5, the arm was starting to feel better and I was swinging golf clubs again.
Another three weeks followed by a two-week healing phase and I had officially completed my round of Fiix Elbow therapy. It feels entirely arbitrary to put a number on it but I’d say my elbow is 90 percent back to normal. Pain is no longer constant. I can play golf, edit photos and claw machine my lawnmower batteries with, at worst, minimal pain that hasn’t gotten worse as I’ve tried to DeChambeau my way to more distance with my driver.
Fiix Elbow – Typical Results
In the Phase 2 trial, the average Fiix Elbow user who completed the program showed a 69-percent improvement in grip strength, a 76-percent improvement in UEFI Score.
Tennis elbow pain can be so severe that some who experience it can’t sleep. Fortunately, I was never that bad. Still, my grip strength and UEFI scores improved by 71 percent and 25 percent, respectively, while my pain decreased by 38 percent.
With a Fiix Elbow by Stā Active production unit in hand (or on arm), I’ve just started another eight weeks with the hope of returning to 100-percent pain free.
Skepticism is Warranted
My goal here is make you aware of a product that has made my life better. It’s not that I particularly enjoy mowing the lawn but claw-machining big batteries around isn’t a problem anymore and I’m ripping balls like Bryson. Well, fat and slow Bryson, but I think we should all agree that it still counts.
That said, I’m no stranger to the promise of voodoo cures and the hucksters who sell them.
At the annual PGA Merchandise Show, there’s always some fly-by-night, sketchy new thing in the “Health and Wellness” space. Full-body vibrating shakers, pulsating light gizmos, magic creams and the ongoing infestation of the electrode army looking to juice you at every opportunity; we’ve seen it all and, thankfully, we’ve seen most of it disappear.
What I like about Fiix Elbow by Stā Active is there’s none of that crystals and moonbeams mysticism crap. They tell you exactly what the Fiix Elbow does (it replicates a widely used and accepted treatment you’d get in a physical therapist’s office) and you can flip it over and see exactly how it works. Seriously. It’s steel knobs on a revolving belt that massage your tendons. Toss in a battery, a timer and a strap, and that’s most of it.
I also appreciate that Tim and his team did things the right way. They ran legitimate trials. They have real data. The Fiix Elbow is an FDA-registered medical device. You can pay for it with your Flexible Spending Account money. That can be particularly useful at the end of the year when we all typically load up on toothpaste and saline solution anyway.
The 90-day money-back guarantee adds a degree of security as well.
Fiix Elbow – I Hope You Never Need It
I hope you never experience tennis elbow and never need the Fiix Elbows. With that in mind, let me end this with a quick recommendation. Don’t get old. Just don’t do it. Staying young will prevent a lot of problems. While you’re at it, eat lots of fiber. We can forgo the details but trust me on that one.
If, however, you happen to develop forearm or elbow pain, it’s worth discussing Fiix Elbow with a qualified medical professional to see if it could help you like it helped me.
The Fiix Elbow by Stā Active is available now (shipping in November). The introductory price is $349.99 but it will eventually sell for $399.99.
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