Jan. 10, 2020
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a method of muscle recovery that has recently grown in popularity. Once a niche technology used mainly by physical therapists or professional athletes, EMS devices are now sold for personal use and sometimes used in studios during exercise classes.
In this fast-paced life, sometimes, the need for quick results and instant gratification drives people to employ newer and more innovative approaches. However, when it comes to health and fitness, where does one draw the line?
These days, many people are opting for Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to get back in shape. While EMS has been around for some time and serves as an effective tool for physiotherapy, it is now gaining popularity as a muscle-strengthening tool too, among fitness trainers.
"EMS is an electrical mode of stimulation of motor end plate, thereby keeping a paralysed or partially paralysed muscle active. However, in recent times, people without any ailment are using this treatment to keep their muscles active and toned," says Dr Prakash Doshi, director of trauma and orthopaedics, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle.
In simple words, EMS delivers a painless current through the patient's skin to specific nerves, to elicit a muscle contraction, thereby causing muscle twitching. This way, a local massage is created facilitating better 'local blood flow'.
Regular exercise benefits musculoskeletal, cardio-metabolic and cognitive health. However, many adults do not meet the minimum amount of recommended exercise per week. Whole-Body EMS (WB-EMS) training may be a promising alternative for adults who lack motivation, time or are unable to exercise conventionally.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation or electromyostimulation, is a protocol that elicits a muscle contraction using electrical impulses that directly stimulate your motor neurons. An EMS unit is a device that delivers this in the comfort of your own home.
This stimulation creates muscle contractions that can be quick and frequent, fast with long pauses, or contractions that are held for several (uncomfortable) seconds or minutes at a time.
Another study from 2015 titled "Effects of high-frequency current therapy on abdominal obesity in young women: a randomized controlled trial" provides a different example of the effectiveness of EMS. Instead of fitness levels, this study looked into whether EMS could help you lose body fat.
In this study, a group of subjects received 30 minutes of high-frequency current therapy via a series of electrodes placed on their stomachs. The subjects did these sessions three times per week for six weeks. After those six weeks, the researchers measured the subject's waist circumference, body mass index, subcutaneous fat mass (fat under the skin), and total body fat percentage.
Surprisingly, without modifying their exercise or diet, the EMS did indeed cause significant effects on decreasing waist circumference, abdominal obesity, subcutaneous fat mass, and body fat percentage, leading the researchers to conclude: "The use of the high-frequency current therapy may be beneficial for reducing the levels of abdominal obesity in young women."