Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is one of the most popular fitness and strength training techniques of the 21st century. Since its emergence in the mid-2000s, EMS has taken the medical and fitness sectors by storm as a highly effective and time-efficient training method with lasting results. Using a specialised full-body EMS training suit that controls muscle contractions via tiny electrical pulses, EMS supports a variety of fitness and health goals including muscle toning, weight loss and pain treatment.
The history of EMS training
Although EMS represents a modern and innovative training method, electric muscle stimulation has a long history of being used in the treatment of headaches and other pain points. Electro-therapy was already practised around 200 BC in Asia by using certain animals such as live electric eels as electricity sources. In the decades thereafter, various experiments were carried out by examining electricity without studying or understanding the exact effect of EMS on the human body.
In the late 1700s, electrical muscle stimulation as a training method reached a milestone when the Italian doctor and anatomist, Luigi Galvani, proved its value through a range of experiments. In the 19th century, researchers Faraday and Duchenne designed mechanical electricity generation for controlling local muscle areas. These devices are the models for modern electro-stimulation technology that is still used today. Throughout the 20th century, the cornerstones of electro-stimulation were further established by researchers such as Gildenmeister and Lapique. Intensive research was conducted into the effects of EMS on the nervous and muscle system while terminology was defined to enhance the understanding of this method.
EMS application in sports
During the run-up to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, conversations were sparked around the potential of strength training through EMS. Therapeutic applications for pain therapy that were used in ancient times also gained popularity during this time with the rise of gate control therapy and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) within the EMS currents. Nearing the 2000s, EMS devices were increasingly used by therapy and sports professionals. EMS training also became more established in the fitness and popular sports sectors since the market launch of the first whole-body EMS device in 2003.
An EMS training session typically follows four-second intervals of muscle contraction followed by four-second intervals of rest. 20 minutes of EMS training per week can deliver the same results as 90 minutes of regular exercising at a traditional gym. The time-saving benefit of EMS is a major plus for people who want to reach their fitness goals within a limited timeframe and with a lower level of exhaustion. EMS trainers develop custom training routines for each client based on their unique goals and fitness capabilities.
EMS therapy and treatments
In recent years, EMS training has significantly grown more important in the physiotherapy sector in addition to TENS therapy. While the latter is more commonly used on detonisation and pain relief in local muscles, EMS training targets muscle development and enhanced strength. This therapy method delivers exceptional results in the development and preservation of muscles after injuries or surgical trauma.
After an injury, the lack of stimulus in the muscle leads to the weakening and degradation of non-loaded muscles, which requires a lengthy rehabilitation and training period for the patient. Since EMS training can be practised without placing high pressure on the joints, it presents an effective strength training method with a positive counter effect on the muscle degradation process. The muscle development stage can be implemented quickly post-surgery without added pressure on the joints.
EMS is also efficient in treating other paint points such as back pain by ensuring a stable muscular corset. Simple EMS training exercises can support and relieve the passive structures of the spine. In turn, the muscle environment is loaded with an effective training stimulus all the way down to the deep muscle layers to increase strength in a short period of time while being gentle on the joints. Engaging in a final relaxation program like TENS therapy directly after the EMS strength program will further ensure that muscle tone is reduced for optimal results.
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 on (03) 8393 5131.