What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)?
Electrical muscle stimulation, also known as EMS or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, is the use of electric impulses to cause muscle contraction. EMS has the ability of being used as a strength training tool for healthy individuals and athletes, a therapy tool for patients, and as a testing tool in order to evaluate neural and muscular function.
The way an EMS unit works is as follows: electrical impulses are generated by the EMS machine and then delivered through electrodes placed on the skin in direct vicinity to the muscles that need electro muscle stimulation. These electrical impulses are similar to the action potential from the central nervous system, therefore causing the muscle to contract.
Facts about Using an Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS)
An electronic muscle stimulator, also known as electrical muscle stimulator, electric muscle stimulator, electro muscle stimulator or EMS unit, is an electronic machine with the capacity to contract muscle via an electrical current that passes through the muscle.
Electrical muscle stimulation allows its users to strengthen weak muscles by electro stimulation of lesser-used muscle fibers to improve their strength, as regular muscle contraction does not typically use all muscle fibers, with a majority remaining dormant.
Electrical muscle stimulation can also provide users with repeated contractions that will accelerate the muscle learning process.
Using a TENS Unit / Muscle Stimulator Combo
Three types of electrical devices can be used for chronic pain therapy:
- TENS unit (also known as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator)
- EMS unit
- TENS EMS unit
Although both of these units function the same way, a TENS unit will stimulate nerve endings, whereas an EMS unit will stimulate muscles.
An EMS machine uses a cycle of stimulation, contraction and relaxation in order to increase blood flow to the area, therefore decreasing inflammation and allowing the muscle to grow and heal. Muscle contractions via an EMS unit therefore cause contractions similar to those obtained by exercise.
Several chronic pain sufferers use a combination of both TENS and EMS in order to provide maximum therapy results. Dual TENS / EMS units are therefore available in order to combine the benefits of electronic muscle stimulation and nerve ending stimulation.
EMS Units and TENS EMS Units for Electric Stimulation Therapy
An EMS unit can also be used to prevent atrophied muscles or in order to retrain muscles, for example for someone who has been paralyzed or partially paralyzed. Other EMS unit uses are range of motion improvement, blood clot prevention and increased circulatory action. By browsing our items above, you will find a large selection of electronic muscle stimulator and combo TENS EMS units for neuromuscular electrical stimulation therapy.
TENS Electrodes should never be placed:
Do not turn TENS up too high as this can cause over-stimulation which may make pain worse. There should be no muscle contraction.
- On or near the eyes
- In the mouth
- Transcerebrally (on each temple)
- On the front of the neck (due to the risk of acute hypotension through a vasovagal reflex)
- On areas of numb skin/decreased sensation
- On broken skin areas or wounds
- On or near the trigeminal nerve if you have a history of herpes zoster induced trigeminal neuralgia (Postherpetic neuralgia)
TENS should also be used with caution in people with epilepsy or pregnant women (do not use over area of the uterus as the effects of electrical stimulation over the developing fetus are not known). TENS should not be used by people with an artificial cardiac pacemaker due to risk of interference and failure of their implanted device. Possible failure of these warnings can result in a cardiac arrhythmia.
In the situation where low frequency (or acupuncture-like) TENS is being used, it is necessary to increase the intensity of the stimulation to the point where a demonstrable muscle twitch is evident. This 2-6Hz (pulses per second) output increases the systemic release of endorphins which in turn cause pain relief.