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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

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Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machine: Overview, Benefits, and Safety Guidelines

elderly man stretching outside

Electrical muscle stimulation machines are portable devices that use electrical currents for muscle strengthening and retraining. The currents pass through the skin from the electrodes, where they reach the underlying muscles, causing them to contract and relax. This repetitive motion stimulates weak or inactive muscles, increases endurance, and improves the range of motion. However, it requires safety precautions to avoid risks. It includes the use of appropriate intensity settings and proper pad placement. 

Electric muscle stimulation is a therapy used in sports training programs and injury rehabilitation. It aims to improve muscle strength and reduce inflammation. Moreover, the machine is adjustable to suit individual needs. Therefore, it is beneficial for people with various muscle pain issues. Many devices are available to help individuals manage their conditions in their own time. This article will provide a general overview of electrical muscle stimulators, their benefits, and guidelines for safe use.

Definition of Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machine

An electrical muscle stimulation machine is a battery-powered device consisting of a signal generator and adhesive electrode pads. It utilises higher frequencies to cause the muscles to contract. This contraction mimics the natural response of the body, typically during an exercise, which helps to strengthen and retrain weak or inactive muscles.

Electrical stimulation (e-stim) has been widely used in fitness centres and physical therapy facilities. There are also many types of devices that serve different purposes. One of which is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). The distinction of electrical muscle stimulation is that it targets muscle properties, whereas TENS targets nerves for pain relief.

Defining your goal is essential to using the right tool. For instance, if you want to make improvements in muscle strength or reduce inflammation, a muscle stimulator is the ideal device. It can also activate core muscles, and achieve effective muscle hypertrophy. Furthermore, its ability to stimulate muscle contractions and provide additional effects makes it a valuable addition to any fitness or rehabilitation routine.

How To Use

  • Place the electrode pads on the muscles or areas you want to target and ensure they are securely in place.
  • Turn on the machine and select the appropriate frequency and pulse duration (width) settings for your fitness level and goals.
  • Start at low intensity and gradually increase to a comfortable level.
  • Balance the amplitude (intensity) and pulse width to optimise muscle contraction and comfort. A wider pulse duration may mean reducing the intensity.
  • Use the device for 20 to 30 minutes per session.
  • After the stimulation, turn off the unit and remove the pads from the skin.
  • Follow the instruction of the device or professional.

Man with back  and neck pain

Benefits of Using an Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machine

The use of electrical muscle stimulation machines offers numerous benefits for individuals seeking to enhance their overall fitness. Firstly, they induce contractions to help strengthen weak muscle fibres. This helps build muscle mass and increase tone. Thus, it can help achieve greater muscle activation in a shorter time. It is also convenient in targeting specific muscle groups, allowing for a more focused and tailored workout.

Secondly, machines can aid in rehabilitation. By strengthening muscles, it helps improve overall mobility. It can also help stabilise joints and reduce the risk of injury. Furthermore, the electrical impulses can help to reeducate muscles, prevent muscle atrophy, and improve coordination and balance. This is beneficial for individuals with injuries, such as sprains and strains or who are coping with post-operation and paralysis.

Finally, muscle stimulation boosts blood circulation and reduces swelling. The increased blood flow promotes muscle healing and the removal of waste products like lactic acid. This results in easing tightness or tension and relieving muscle pain. In summary, muscle stimulators provide muscle activation and strengthening, injury rehabilitation and prevention, and muscle recovery.

How It Works

The device works by sending electrical currents through the skin. The currents mimic the action potential sent by the brain to the motor nerves during voluntary contractions. Moreover, it uses higher frequencies, compared to TENS machines, to activate muscle fibres. A powerful contraction also causes movements at the joints.

The repetitive contraction and relaxation results in stronger muscle performance. The stimulation is adjustable to suit different fitness levels. For instance, low frequencies with long pulse durations are efficient for muscle toning. On the other hand, high frequencies with shorter pulses are ideal for strength training.

A person warming before a workout routine and using an electrical muscle stimulation machine

Safety Precautions When Using an Electrical Muscle Stimulation Machine

When using an electrical muscle stimulation machine, it is vital to take safety precautions to avoid potential risks. Primarily, follow the recommended frequency, pulse duration, and intensity. Incorrect use may cause skin irritation or even tissue damage. Additionally, always start with low intensity and gradually increase as the body becomes accustomed to the electric stimulation. This will help prevent sudden shocks or discomfort.

The intensity level should be within an acceptable range. It should be sufficient to cause muscular contraction but not too strong to cause pain or injury. High intensities may also lead to skin burns. Therefore, observe the body’s response during and after the session. Furthermore, be aware of any contraindications for use. Electrotherapy devices are not advisable for people with heart conditions, epilepsy, implanted devices, or who are pregnant.

Experts advise using the machine two times per week to allow the target muscles to recover. Lastly, do not use an electrical device near water, as this may cause shocks or damage to the device. It is important to consult a healthcare provider for guidance and advice on proper settings and pad placement.

Proper Pad Placement

Proper electrode placement is crucial for effective stimulation or treatment. The first step is to identify the target area. Place the pads over the major muscles or muscle groups. For example, if you are targeting the quadriceps, position the electrodes on the front of the thigh. One pad should be above the kneecap and the other below it.

It is also essential to avoid surface areas with open wounds and broken or infected skin. Use the machine on clean and dry skin. Ensure the area is free from lotion, oil, or seat. It will also help proper contact between the electrodes and the skin.

Conclusion

Electrical muscle stimulation machines are efficient tools for improving muscle functions. They are handheld devices that send electric currents through the electrodes placed on the skin. Moreover, they provide multiple benefits for various cases. They help promote muscle growth through repeated contractions and relaxation. In addition, they help increase the range of motion, prevent muscle wastage, and reduce inflammation. This is helpful for individuals undergoing injury rehabilitation. Incorporating them into fitness routines can help develop healthy muscles over time.

It is vital to use the right amount of electrical pulses to suit individual needs or muscle conditions. The intensity and frequency should be firm but tolerable. Furthermore, follow the necessary precautions when using the machine. This includes checking for any contraindications, proper pad placement, and frequency of usage. Finally, it is essential to consult a physician or physical therapist to ensure the safe and effective use of the device.

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