How this $40 device is helping runners, gardeners and back pain sufferers

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Let me upfront by saying that I am going to be talking about a health improvement device, but this article does not constitute medical advice. Please consult a doctor before using any device to treat a health condition as each person’s situation is unique .

With that being said…

My wife and I are not as young as we used to be. The importance of this cliché grows every month. And it shows. Every time I go for a long run, my muscles require more and more attention to heal. My wife toils in our garden to create a living work of art. Some days she overdoes it and her back is a fond reminder of how fragile the human system can be.

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We do everything we can to avoid or heal injuries without having to rely on painkillers. I do a lot of stretching, use ice, and take hot baths when needed. We also rely on an inexpensive device that has saved us both costly doctor and chiropractor visits.

This device is the Auvon Dual Channel TENS Unit. This device costs about $40 (with occasional sales) and has worked wonders for both my wife and me. In fact, it was my wife’s chiropractor who suggested we buy the device (he used a similar device on her during an office visit). We have had this unit for three years and it has always paid for itself.


A relatively affordable muscle stimulator that is ideal for pain relief and conditioning.

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The specifications of the device are as follows:

Dimensions: 4.12 x 2.24 x 0.43 inches Battery: Internal Li-Ion rechargeable (with micro USB cable). Modes: Up to 20 modes including hammering, kneading, shiatsu and more. Independent Mode Control: You can set separate modes and intensities for Channel A and Channel B. TENS Pads: Includes both 2″ x 2″ and 2″ x 4″ pads (you can purchase more separately).

The battery in this device lasts a very long time. Although we don’t use it daily, the charge typically lasts for weeks.

With the TENS device

Using this TENS unit is easier than it looks. You take a pair of sticky pads from the plastic bag, apply them directly to your skin in problem areas, connect the pads to the device (via the included cable), choose the channel you connected the pads to, set the time and strength and enjoy the feeling. Here is a video demonstration for your reference.

There are a few warnings you need to understand. First, pad placement is critical. There are places where you must never place the pads (there are warnings about this in the instructions). When in doubt, always do an online search for TENS unit placement for the problem area.

Second, the device sends a weak electrical current into your muscles, which causes them to spasm. I used the device on my calf which prevented me from walking while using it. For this reason, you should never use the device if you need mobility or are using a muscle (or muscle group) that the device focuses on. As you use the device, you will also find that certain modes work best for certain muscles or problems. Be sure to read more about the modes in the manual and understand what they do and what effect they have.

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Again, I can’t stress enough that you need to be careful with a TENS unit. It is best to consult a professional (doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor) first before using this device. When used properly, this device can do wonders for sore or blocked muscles. My wife’s back is a perfect testament to this device. However, if used incorrectly, the TENS device can be dangerous.

Another piece of advice is to always move the pads to their plastic wrap and put them back in the plastic bag after use. If you omit the pads, the glue will dry out and become unusable. I used the same pads for a while before they had to be replaced.

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If you use this TENS machine carefully, you will find that it can seriously relieve muscle soreness. On a number of occasions my wife has dislocated her back and this device has prevented her from having to see a chiropractor again. For me, it significantly speeds up recovery from marathon training runs.

I must remind you once again to use the Auvon TENS unit with great care. Used correctly, it brings great relief. If used incorrectly, you may be taken in an ambulance (rarely and in the worst case). In the years that I have used this device I have never had a problem. If you buy one, read the manual carefully and do not deviate from the recommended use.