What role do EMS, electric muscle stimulators play in health and fitness?
In all honesty, the jury is still out. What we know about electric muscle stimulators is that they are helpful in the recovery process. Muscle stimulation has been used as a modality in physical therapy for quite a long time. In the health and fitness world, they have been anything but mainstream. In 1972, the USSR cleaned up the Olympic field winning a numerous amount of medals. There were claims that they were using EMS as a way to enhance muscle size and strength. Since those games, there have been many research studies done to either prove or disprove those claims. As stated before, the jury is still out. It was also reported that Bruce Lee, star martial artist, also benefited from the use of EMS.
One should probably understand how EMS works before he or she makes a decision to purchase a home EMS kit. The human body is wired in much the same way a car is. Our brain sends an electrical impulse through the central nervous system, CNS, and out through the peripheral nervous system, PNS, to elicit a muscular action. An EMS is comprised of a battery like terminal and electrodes that are placed on the individual’s skin. Instead of receiving the impulse from the brain for the muscle to contract, the individual receives an impulse from the machine. This is what we know. There are some claims that the EMS can stimulate some muscle tissue that we do not stimulate on our own. This theory is what the push for use in the fitness and bodybuilding industry is based on. Also, the big push in the fitness industry is to sell a product that does the work for you, so you don’t need to actually exercise yourself. Another use in the competitive sports arena is to enhance recovery following a workout. After tissue trauma it has been noted that low level stimulation will help improve neuromuscular interactions to help speed recovery.
In recap, EMS has been shown to be effective in rehabilitative environments. It has been anecdotally proven to help performance at an Olympic, sports performance level. As far as fitness goes, it seems to be something that is not generally accepted. Good luck in your decision making process and keep the questions coming.