There are two essential things to remember when talking about electrical stimulation: Firstly, it’s widely used as a type of therapeutic treatment in physical therapy. Secondly, it has become a popular form of full-body workout exercise. For physical therapy, electrical stimulation helps with reducing muscle pain, injury and inflammation. It also improves circulation in the legs as well as helping people recover from a stroke. On the other hand, it helps with muscle strengthening, improves metabolism and helps in weight loss when used in electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) training.
How does electrical stimulation work? Electrical stimulation, or e-stim, works by mimicking the natural neuron signals that target the muscles or nerves through the electrical pulses coming from the e-stim device. The human body responds when the targeted muscles contract or relax.
Electrical stimulation can:
block pain receptors
improve blood flow circulation
train the muscles to respond to signals to contract
Types of modern electrical stimulation
Modern electrotherapy has produced various types of electrical stimulation. You can read about the history of EMS training to get a glimpse of how e-stim technology developed over the years. Here are the commonly used types of electrical stimulation:
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
EMS training uses an EMS machine while doing regular workout routines to aid muscle building and strengthening in just 20 minutes. Individuals must wear an EMS suit, a special vest or a bodysuit with electrodes that are strategically placed in different muscle areas.
There are many fitness centres that offer EMS training along with other exercise programs, or solely an EMS training studio like Volt Fitness. EMS training devices for at-home use are now also available. However, it’s still best to be guided by a licensed EMS trainer to educate you about the different muscle groups and help monitor your fitness goals.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS is the earliest type of muscle stimulation for pain relief. It uses low-voltage electrical current to temporarily relieve chronic or acute pain. It’s non-invasive and almost similar to EMS. It uses the TENS unit, a battery-powered tabletop device with thin wires where the adhesive pads with electrodes are connected. The electrodes are placed directly on the trigger points or where the pain is located. TENS should only be considered a therapy to temporarily ease pain and not heal or cure any injury. A single TENS treatment usually lasts for 15 to 40 minutes.
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) FES is a well-established form of electrical stimulation for rehabilitation. It also uses low electric currents to stimulate the body that has lost its senses such as in paralysis. Patients incorporate FEMS with exercise to help them regain lost functionality in muscle movement or activities like walking. In addition, FES also helps with bowel and bladder function.
Neuromuscular electrical Stimulation (NMES) NMES is used by physical therapists for individuals recovering from an injury or surgery. It helps the muscles contract or re-educates the muscles to help them speedily get back to their normal function. NMES is useful in relaxing muscle spasms, increasing blood circulation, and preventing muscle atrophy.
Are they all effective and safe to use? Overall, these types of electrical stimulation are safe to use. However, large-scale research is constantly being conducted to learn more about how well they work in different situations in physiotherapy, sports medicine, and others where electrical stimulation can be applied.
Furthermore, it’s important to bear in mind that there are limitations to who can use electrical stimulation. Always check with a doctor or licensed therapist, especially for individuals with the following conditions:
Persons with epilepsy, hemorrhage, open wounds, and reduced cognition
Volt Fitness is a luxury EMS studio in Melbourne that offers short, intensive training sessions with maximum efficiency and sustainable results in a feel-good atmosphere. 20 minutes at Volt Fitness are as good as 90 minutes of sweating it out at a traditional gym.
Ready to start working on your fitness goals? Take a look at our training options or chat with us at (03) 8393 5131.