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12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Machine for Pulled Muscle: Pad Placement Guide

A woman holding her knee and calf while on the road

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine is a popular therapy device for relieving pain. It works best for nerve pain but can also promote muscle recovery, such as in pulled muscles. Use a TENS machine for pulled muscles by placing the electrodes on the sore area. The device will then deliver mild electrical pulses to stimulate the underlying muscles, nerves, and tissues. As a result, individuals may experience pain alleviation and relaxation.

A pulled muscle is a common injury. It occurs when the muscle fibres are stretched beyond their limits, causing microscopic tears. This can happen during physical activity, such as lifting heavy weights, sudden movements, or even simple tasks like reaching for something. The pain and discomfort can range from mild to severe. This article will provide a simple but complete guide on how a TENS machine works and proper pad placement for muscle strains.

What is a TENS Machine for Pulled Muscles?

A TENS machine is a small, portable device. It uses low-voltage electrical currents to relieve pain. The unit consists of a compact handheld remote to control the intensity and frequency of the currents. In addition, the unit connects to adhesive electrodes through wires. In modern devices, the electrodes are wireless and attach directly to a power generator.

TENS machines are commonly used in pain clinics or rehabilitation centres to treat chronic pain conditions or injuries. However, people can now use a TENS machine in their homes through more portable versions. The device is simple and easy to use, with few control buttons. Moreover, some units have pre-set modes for convenient and efficient treatments.

Using a TENS machine for pulled muscles can be highly advantageous. The device is non-invasive and drug-free. People can use the device without worrying about potential side effects or risk of dependence. Also, it provides targeted pain relief through pad placement on or near the injury site. This enables direct stimulation to the affected nerves or muscles.

Causes and Symptoms of Pulled Muscles

Some common causes of pulled muscles include:

  • Overexertion: Excessive physical activity can strain the muscles.
  • Poor posture and body mechanics: Incorrect posture and improper form during physical activities can lead to muscle injuries.
  • Lack of warm-up: Not stretching before an exercise or sudden movements can increase the risk of muscle strains.
  • Muscle imbalances: Disparity between weak and strong muscles can put additional stress.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion: Tired muscles are more vulnerable to injury.

The typical symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or tenderness
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Muscle weakness or difficulty moving the affected area
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited range of motion

The iTENS wireless TENS machine in large wings and spare long wings

How Does a TENS Machine for Pulled Muscles Work?

A TENS machine for pulled muscles works by sending electrical stimulation to the affected area. The impulses generated by the device override the nerves, helping to block the pain signals from reaching the brain. This is called the pain gating mechanism. A TENS machine uses high-frequency TENS (100 Hz and above) to provide quick relief for acute pain.

Another way a TENS machine relieves pain is to stimulate the release of endorphins. These chemicals are natural painkillers of the body that help to reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being. The device utilises low-frequency TENS (10 Hz and below) to generate this action for chronic pain management.

Additionally, TENS machines also improve blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels. This promotes a healthy blood flow to the affected area that may have been compromised due to the muscle injury. Hence, it can help reverse or prevent muscle atrophy. Nevertheless, individuals need to try different settings to find optimal results.

Benefits of Using a TENS Unit

One of the key benefits of using a TENS unit is that it relieves pain without the need for medication. This is favourable for people who want to avoid opioid tolerance. Furthermore, users can customise the pulse rates, duration, and intensity to meet their comfort level. Individuals can also use it anytime, whenever needed.

In addition, TENS is versatile and can help with various conditions, including chronic low-back pain, knee pain, and even period pain. Lastly, it is cost-effective. It minimises the need and expenses involved in going to a physical therapist or pain management professional regularly.

A woman using four wireless TENS machines on one leg

Pad Placement When Using a TENS Machine for Pulled Muscles

Proper pad placement is crucial when using a TENS machine for pulled muscle. The placement will vary depending on the specific muscle that is injured or strained. As a general guide, start by palpating the area or assessing the origin of severe pain. For back muscles, place one pad on each side to cover the affected area. If the pain is localised to a specific spot, users can place the electrodes directly on that spot.

For pulled muscles on the leg, place one electrode pad on each side of the affected leg muscle. For example, if a person has a pulled hamstring, place one pad on the back of the thigh and the other on the inner or outer side of the thigh near the injury.

After unit placement, turn on the device and adjust the settings depending on the level and type of pain. However, beginning with the lowest stimulation intensity is vital to prevent sudden discomfort. Then, gradually increase until the tingling sensations are effective and comfortable. Finally, set the treatment session for 15 to 30 minutes.

Signs to Seek Professional Help

Individuals should seek medical help immediately after a trauma or injury. This may include hearing a popping sound that causes extreme pain. Additionally, they should consult a doctor for ongoing pain that lasts more than a week. It also includes additional symptoms such as swelling, redness, or inability to move around.

It is also important to monitor the body while using a TENS machine. Avoid turning the pulse frequency stimulation at extreme levels to prevent potential skin irritations and make the pain worse. It may also cause skin burns and further muscle fatigue. If side effects persist, consult a healthcare provider.


A pulled muscle is a condition involving tearing the muscle fibres, resulting in pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion. One of the effective methods of pain relief is using a TENS machine for pulled muscle. It delivers mild electrical stimulation to the body to block pain signals and release endorphins. As a result, it decreases the pain intensity and promotes healing. The TENS device is also beneficial for various types of pain conditions, including nerve pain and musculoskeletal pain.

One way to ensure effective pain relief is following proper pad placement. To determine the right placement, identify the most painful, sore, or tender area. Furthermore, follow the instructions or recommendations of a healthcare provider to operate the TENS unit. However, individuals should know when to consult a professional and seek medical help to ensure proper treatment and avoid potential complications. Overall, a TENS machine is a valuable pain relief and muscle recovery tool.

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