Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is one of the most exciting forms of training, with more and more people each year trying it out and realising that they love it. While EMS may sound like science fiction, it was discovered as far back as 1761 when Luigi Galvani first found that electricity could stimulate muscle fibres.
While the theory had been known for a while, it wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists began looking at whether EMS was suitable for increasing muscle size and strength. The studies found that EMS could lead to a 40% increase in muscle force! 1
Similar studies done more recently have found that EMS can:
- Increase muscle size
- Increase endurance
- Prevent muscle loss
- Reduce injury risk
- Speed up injury recovery time 2
EMS has taken off globally in a big way, helping a huge range of different people to build muscle, avoid injury, recover from pre-existing injuries, and increase your endurance. All of this can be achieved with EMS in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Where EMS can really stand out is when it comes to injury recovery. One of the most frustrating things about recovering from an injury or surgery is the large period of time where you cannot participate in strenuous exercise. This can lead to a loss of muscle mass, a reduction in strength, and a loss of flexibility.
EMS can help to prevent this, while it stimulates muscle fibres in the same way that exercise does, it does so at a much lower intensity. You are working your muscles while performing very light exercises, your chances of re-injuring yourself are essentially nil, you can target specific muscles and avoid other ones, it’s the perfect scenario for someone who is trying to get back in shape after an injury.
EMS is also great for fixing muscular imbalances, got stronger biceps than triceps? You can sort that out with EMS. Stronger muscles on your left-hand side than your right? This can also be fixed with EMS. By addressing these muscular imbalances, you are reducing the risk of future injury, most injuries are actually caused by poor flexibility or weakness in certain muscles.
While EMS is useful for all demographics, one group that can really benefit from it is women who are recovering from injuries or suffer from chronic pain. EMS has been shown to lessen the likelihood of several age-related conditions and may even help to treat the symptoms of certain conditions such as arthritis or motor disabilities.
EMS is one of the best tools for treating injuries, chronic pain, and age-related conditions, it is so much more than just a way to build muscle. Expect to see it being used more and more by physiotherapists, as it could very well be the future of exercise and recovery.