What is Electric Muscle Stimulation?
It is a technique that consists of applying an electrical discharge directed to a specific muscle, to produce a controlled contraction. It is a therapeutic means since it controls the work of muscle fibers with a purpose: to repair damaged tissues, avoid degeneration, and/or avoid trauma.
These techniques began to develop in the 20th century, as stimulation methods and even as possible torture in world wars. Today, all the devices that develop electrotherapy are completely safe and use a current ratio that does not cause any harm, only benefits.
- The development of special suits with electrodes has generalized the technique so that several muscle groups can be stimulated at the same time, controlling the reaction using a computer.
- The lower frequencies are used to relax the muscle and ease discomfort.
- Frequencies up to 8 hertz, get endorphins released raising the pain threshold.
- Up to 12-hertz sessions produce a light massage and improve circulation and tissue oxygenation.
- An intensity of up to 40 hertz works aerobically on the muscle fibers.
- When it is raised to 60 hertz, the intermediate fibers work and the resistance is improved.
- Up to 80 hertz is an intensity used for strength and muscle development as fast muscle fibers are activated.
- The highest intensity, from 80 to 120 hertz, is used for professionals who combine sport with these electrotherapy sessions, where they gain strength and speed.
Benefits of Electric Stimulation
- With just 20 minutes a week, you get the tone and firmness necessary for all muscle groups.
- It does not need a specific previous physical form, so it can be very effective in older people.
- It can serve as complementary training for professional athletes. Like for example electro fitness.
- It does not require movement so it can be used in people with mobility problems.
- The risk of injury is minimal.
- It balances muscle strength, because it can be used only in the least developed groups, for whatever reason, and thus achieve stabilization between muscles.
- The muscle expends energy during the process and in its subsequent recovery, so it can be an assistant to maintain weight.
- You must rest 72 hours between sessions for tendon regeneration. Therefore, it is NOT an everyday technique.
- The intensity of the load is regulated according to each person so the objectives are personal.
- We are not talking at all about replacing sports practice. As we always tell you, sport is your best ally to maintain and/or improve your health (Do you remember when we talked to you about cardiovascular risk and sports?).
Myths and Contraindications of Muscle Electric Stimulation
- It doesn’t get you in shape without exercising.
- This technique alone does not replace hours of gym or training. It is a passive activity and a conscious effort is necessary for an optimal result.
- It is not indicated in people with pacemakers, due to the interaction of electrical waves.
- It is not indicated in pregnant people, because it can cause contractions.
- Electrodes should not be placed on wounds. It can interfere with your healing.
- Nighttime stimulation can cause sleep problems.
- In very high intensities, cases of rhabdomyolysis have been described, a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases harmful substances into the bloodstream.
- It does not serve to lose weight by itself. You will need a diet and some more combined physical exercise.
Gymnastics with Electrostimulation
In recent times it has become fashionable to combine conventional exercises with muscle electrostimulation (EMS). Either separately, or while doing the voluntary exercise, through special suits.
Studies on its efficacy are inconclusive, so it could be said that EMS works (although it is not a miracle method) as long as it is used as a supplement and never as an alternative to conventional training.
Before launching to try it, ask a professional in sports medicine, in case your case is not suitable to use this technique. You already know that at Grandview Health Partners we have an exceptional medical team to help you.
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