Pros: Infrared heat, massage, toe-touch controls, easy to use, long 6-foot cord
Cons: Heavy vibration and noisy when set on High; only use 15 minutes or could overheat
Buckle your seatbelt for this foot massager experience! The HoMedics FootPro Ultra Foot Massager -- Model AK-3 delivers a massage that is unlike any other Ive experienced.
Why We Needed a Massager
Several family members have problems with their feet (arthritic toes, poor circulation, suffer from leg cramps otherwise known as "charley horses"). We already owned a footbath massager, which no one enjoyed using. It was bothersome to fill the massager tub with water and carry the heavy tub. Then we had to sit in a place where it wouldnt matter if water sloshed onto the floor. This usually required sitting in the kitchen on a wooden chair. Not exactly comfortable.
Meanwhile, vitamins, medicine and therapy such as leg exercises, werent completely healing our familys problem feet. So I decided to buy the family a new massager ... one that didnt require water.
Last year, Drugstore.com offered a fantastic deal on the HoMedics FootPro Ultra Foot Massager -- Model AK-3. With free shipping, the unit only cost about $30, plus Drugstore.com threw in a free gift. How could I go wrong? The massager usually retails for around $35. I ordered the unit from Drugstore.com, and the package arrived within a week. (I highly recommend Drugstore.com as a place to shop online. Good deals can be found here, and they have never disappointed me in customer service or timely delivery.)
What Makes This Massager So Different? -- Infrared Heat
Infrared heat warms objects directly without heating the surrounding air.
The massage platform where the feet rest uses infrared heat to revitalize the feet. Infrared heat isnt as radical as it sounds. Every day our bodies are exposed to infrared heat (also known as radiant heat) from the sun or warmth from a fire. Even the heat resonating from a sidewalk is infrared heat.
The human body produces infrared heat to both warm the body and to help the inside of the body heal faster, such as with tissue repair. Infrared radiant heat is used by doctors and physical therapists in treatment. For more than three decades, infrared treatments have been used in Europe and Asia and are gaining popularity in the United States.
Infrared heat has the following beneficial results:
* Reduces muscle spasms
* Provides temporary relief from aches and pains
* Increases flow of oxygenated blood to muscles and joints by dilating blood vessels
* Promotes healing of injured and sore muscle fibers
Setting Up & Using the Massager
The HoMedics FootPro Ultra Foot Massager -- Model AK-3 is very simple to operate. Best yet, all the controls are at foot level and are designed to turn on and off using the feet!
First, set the massager on the floor in front of the chair you plan to sit in. The massager comes with a long six-foot cord with a polarized plug (one prong of the plug is wider than the other). Plug the massager into an outlet (110-120V) and prepare yourself for a foot massage.
Do not wear shoes. I know this seems obvious ... but I thought Id better mention it. The manufacturer recommends that the user wears socks when using the foot massager.
Place the feet on the red-colored areas near the top/middle portion of the massager. The control buttons are located under the red foot rest area. There are three buttons. The larger button in the center turns the unit on and off. The button farthest to the left controls the massage/vibration setting. There are two settings -- Lo and Hi. The button at the far right controls the infrared heat function. The button has an On and Off setting. Wait a few moments for the unit to warm. The massage and heat settings can be used together or separately.
HoMedics offers the following advice:
* Individuals using pacemakers should not use this product
* Never use massager on open wounds or discolored areas
* Do not use for more than 15 minutes at a time; could cause product to overheat
* Use only when seated; do not stand on unit
* Keep cord away from heated surfaces; do not carry by cord
* Never block air openings of appliance
* Never place appliance on soft surface such as a bed or couch
* Do not operate under blanket or pillow
* Do not use while sleeping; do not fall asleep when using the massager
* Do not operate where aerosol spray products are being used
* Do not place or drop into water or other liquid
* Turn unit off before unplugging it
* Do not wrap the power cord around the unit
* Allow unit to cool; store in clean, dry place (or in the box)
What Does Infrared Heat Feel Like?
The infrared heat function is very different than, say, the heat from a heating pad. Infrared heat does not produce a "hot" feeling. Its a gentle heat that penetrates the inside of the foot. Dont expect to notice great warmth from this massager. Particularly when wearing socks, the heat is hardly noticeable. It is easier to feel the heat when the massaging part of the unit is not activated. After a massage with the infrared heat, we feel a difference -- our feet are more relaxed, and the aches have melted away. (Note that the infrared heat is only applied to the soles of the feet.)
Massage or Earthquake?
I wasnt kidding when earlier I said fasten your seatbelt for this foot massage. The vibration, even at the low level, is enough to rattle the teeth. I wish the massager came with foot stirrups so that my feet would comfortably stay in one place.
When I lean back in the chair, my feet tend to vibrate right off the massage unit. I sit in an upholstered armchair. In order to keep my feet in place on the massager, I sit on the edge of the chair. Im sure the type of chair you sit in makes a difference in how well-mounted your feet are on the massaging unit. It just so happens that my favorite chair isnt well-suited to comfortable massaging with this device.
The red-colored area on the unit where the feet rest contains raised plastic nubs that HoMedics call "accunodules". These nodules are supposed to additionally stimulate the feet. Im not sure if they actually do. I had hoped they would at least anchor my feet a bit better ... but no. Maybe the feet bouncing against the accunodules produces benefits Im not aware of.
How We Benefit from Foot Massage
We love it! Most family members place the unit on the carpet in front of their favorite chair. The foot rest is angled so that the feet are comfortable. The toe-touch controls are a great convenience. All of us use both the heat and massaging elements at the same time. We dont use the massage unit on High. When the unit is used with the low massage setting, the device emits a hum. The unit is quite noisy when set on high vibration.
Since the unit can only be used for 15 minutes at a time (overheating can result if used longer than 15 minutes), we set a timer so we dont lose track of time. When the beeper sounds, off goes the unit. We also let the unit cool between the times it is used.
The family member with the arthritic toe uses the foot massager daily and notices a big difference after massaging the feet. The toe pain vanishes, at least temporarily. The heat/massage gives greater flexibility to the toe. This person likes the unit best and uses it at night before bedtime. The toe pain used to keep this family member awake at night, and now this person enjoys a peaceful nights sleep and awakes without toe pain.
Another family member suffers poor circulation in the feet and notices a "revitalized feeling" after using the massager. This family member doesnt care for the intense vibration from the massager ... and feels as if a rocket is about to launch when using it! This person likes the unit least and only uses it every once and awhile. After first using the unit on the High vibration setting, this person felt a little wobbly when walking.
The person suffering from leg cramps (has had them since childhood) enjoys the vibration as it loosens the tense leg muscles. These leg cramps can become intense and quite painful. When a leg cramp is in progress, the massager vibration is a great relief as it quickly eases the pain. The combination infrared heat and massage leave the user feeling relaxed.
Our entire family enjoys the HoMedics FootPro Ultra Foot Massager. However, I can see where this unit would not be for everyone. Some people may prefer to feel heat from a more traditional heat source. Others will definitely not like the robust vibration from the massager. Thats why its a good idea to know your store return policy. My feet are very happy with this HoMedics Foot Massager. I just may take them dancing!
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day!
Size: 14-inches by 12-inches
Highest point of unit from the floor: 4 1/4-inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Cord measures 75-inches long (a little over 6 feet)
Recessed cord wrap on back of unit to wrap cord around
Hollow area at back of unit (at the top) offers a handle for carrying
Four raised rubber feet on bottom of unit
Made of durable molded plastic
Two Year Limited Warranty. This is, in part, what the manufacturer says:
"This HoMedics product warranty does not cover damage caused by misuse or abuse; accidents; the attachment of any unauthorized accessory; alteration to the product; or any other conditions whatsoever are beyond the control of HoMedics. HoMedics shall not be responsible for any type of incidental, consequential or special damages.
To obtain warranty service on your FootPro Ultra product either hand deliver or mail the unit and your dated sales receipt (as proof of purchase), postpaid, along with a check or money order in the amount of $5.00 payable to HoMedics, Inc., to cover handling."
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