Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)is a way of stimulating the muscles in the body to contract. It uses electrical impulses to artificially produce the same muscle contraction results that would be directed by the central nervous system.
EMS devices are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration to ensure their safety. They have electrode pads that are attached directly to the skin in the exact region of the muscles that are intended to be stimulated. It’s through these electrodes that electrical impulses are sent to these muscles, causing them to contract, and delivering a range of benefits that have recently been gaining more attention from the medical and science community.
Exercise & Strength Training
The use of EMS devices to enhance exercise routines and promote muscle growth has increased in popularity. The devices are used specifically on the muscles that an exercise routine targets in order to increase the effects of the exercise. Electrical muscle stimulation can cause these muscles to contract at a far greater level, which can lead to greater and faster muscle growth and strength.
However, the FDA has not approved these devices as a way to lose weight quickly. Especially since many television commercials claim you can wear these devices when sitting still and still gain six-pack abs and lose weight. The FDA has rejected these claims.
Electrical muscle stimulation is widely used on patients that are recovering from injuries that have caused certain muscles in their body’s to remain unused for an extended period of time. Sometimes there are brain injuries associated with these kinds of injuries. These muscles are much weaker and have decreased in size.
When EMS is used on these recovering patients, it’s designed to increase the strength and tone of these muscles. When the brain has also been affected, the electrical impulses are used to force the muscles to contract in a harmonious pattern that the brain can learn to synchronize with. This was formerly an experimental kind of therapy that has recently been shown to be very effective.
Other Medical Uses
Electrical muscle stimulation can be used to greatly reduce muscle spasms that occur because of over-exertion or injuries. Tears and wounds to the muscle and tendons can be healed much faster with this kind of therapy because it increases the blood circulation in the treated areas of muscle.
When patients are in hospital beds, wheelchairs or other confined areas for long periods of time, they can develop what are called pressure-sores. These occur when there is constant pressure on certain areas of the body. When electrical muscle stimulation is applied to these areas, it can decrease discomfort, decrease the risk of muscle deformities and increase range-of-motion.