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

TENS Machine for Sore Muscles: Using TENS to Relieve Muscle Tightness

A woman with sore shoulder after a workout

Muscle soreness is a common experience for people engaging in physical activities, whether it be from exercise, work, or daily chores. While they are common, persistent soreness can be uncomfortable and disruptive, affecting the quality of life. One effective way to relieve pain is through Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). A TENS machine for sore muscles helps increase circulation and reduce inflammation. It utilises electrical pulses to stimulate the affected nerves and muscles to alleviate the discomfort.

TENS therapy has been widely used for pain management, including muscle pain and soreness. It offers a drug-free and non-invasive method of pain relief, minimising the risk of side effects that are common with medications. Therefore, many use a TENS machine as an alternative to conventional treatments. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a TENS machine for muscle soreness, how it relieves pain, and how to operate the device.

Benefits of Using a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles

Using a TENS machine for sore muscles offers numerous benefits. Firstly, it can provide immediate relief from muscle pain through the use of electrical currents. This treatment option provides pain alleviation without the need for medicines. This is favourable for those who prefer to avoid or reduce their intake of painkillers.

Secondly, using a TENS machine can help improve circulation in the affected area. By increasing blood flow, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, facilitating healing and reducing inflammation. This can reduce the effects of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and speed up the recovery process of damaged muscle fibres. In addition, muscle relaxation from TENS helps increase the range of motion.

Lastly, TENS machines are customisable to suit individual needs and preferences. Users can adjust the intensity and frequency of the electrical impulses to find a stimulation level that works best for them. This ability of TENS provides targeted pain relief and maximises the effectiveness of the treatment. It is also suitable for everyday use, making it a convenient and cost-effective option.

Applications of TENS

  • Chronic pain management: Since TENS does not have adverse side effects even when used long-term, it is safe for managing chronic conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain.
  • Physical therapy: TENS machines can be a part of rehabilitation programs for athletes or individuals recovering from injuries. It helps reduce pain and muscle stiffness, allowing for quicker recovery and return to normal activities.
  • Post-workout recovery: Using a TENS machine after a strenuous workout can help reduce the duration and intensity of muscle pain. It can also prevent the onset of DOMS, allowing for shorter recovery periods and better performance in subsequent workouts.

App guide on operating a TENS machine settings

How a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles Provide Relief

TENS machines use several mechanisms to provide muscle soreness relief. The machine works by sending electrical pulses through the electrode pads placed on the skin. These pulses stimulate the underlying nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. The tingling sensations also help to distract the brain from pain.

Another function of TENS is to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins are a type of neurotransmitter that acts as a natural painkiller and mood enhancer. They inhibit the nerve cells from sending pain messages being sent to the brain. Therefore, it can help reduce pain intensity and provide relief that lasts for hours.

Moreover, the electrical impulses help stimulate blood circulation, relieving tight muscles. This can stimulate wound healing and tendon repair. Lastly, a TENS machine can provide massaging benefits to the muscles, helping to relax and loosen them up, reducing stiffness and improving flexibility. The settings of the TENS machine for sore muscles can be adjusted to different levels to generate these various therapeutic effects.

Low and High Frequencies

Frequency or pulse rate refers to the number of electrical pulses delivered per second. Low-frequency TENS currents (1-10 Hz) stimulate endorphin release and reduce dorsal horn neuron activity. Hence, the nerves can process less sensory information, such as pain. This is suitable for managing chronic pain conditions.

On the other hand, high-frequency TENS currents (50-100 Hz) are more effective for acute pain relief by blocking pain messages from reaching the brain. This frequency level is effective in relieving achy muscles, sports injuries, and post-operative pain. A health professional may recommend trying various frequencies to find the most optimal relief.

A woman using smartphone app while using wireless TENS machines

How to Operate a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles

Operating a TENS machine for sore muscles is a relatively easy process. Most devices have user-friendly controls and automatic programs. First, clean the treatment area and remove any oils or lotion from the skin. Next, place the adhesive electrode pads on the sore muscles. Make sure the electrodes are firmly in place and do not move or overlap.

Subsequently, turn on the TENS unit and adjust the frequency and intensity levels. It is best to start with a low intensity and gradually increase to a strong but comfortable level. Individuals may use the device for muscle relaxation for 20 to 30 minutes. For longer treatment, allow a 20-minute break before continuing with the therapy.

Modern TENS machines, like the wireless iTENS, provide pre-set modes for various body aches. These may include massage programs with different pulse patterns for specific muscle groups. Users may select the appropriate mode based on their needs and preferences. After the session, turn the device off before removing the electrode pads.

Safety Guidelines

Using a TENS machine requires following safety guidelines to avoid potential risks. Firstly, avoid electrode placement on open wounds, broken skin, or areas with decreased sensation. Secondly, refrain from using the device on sensitive areas like the head, neck, and near the heart, as this may trigger unwanted side effects.

Furthermore, avoid extreme intensity levels that may cause discomfort or muscle contractions. Pregnant women, individuals with pacemakers, and those with epilepsy should consult a medical professional before using a TENS machine. Never use the device in the bath or shower, as it can pose a risk of electrical shock.


A TENS machine can be a valuable tool in managing muscle pain. The device works by blocking pain signals, releasing endorphins, and promoting blood circulation. Hence, this approach can provide natural pain relief and minimise the side effects of medications. Moreover, a TENS machine for sore muscles can help reduce stiffness, increase the range of motion, and improve muscle performance. By understanding the various settings, individuals can effectively use it to target different types of pain.

Operating a TENS machine is relatively easy. It involves knowing the appropriate settings and pad placement for optimal results. Additionally, it is vital to follow safety guidelines to avoid any potential risks or side effects. For best result, it is best to consult a healthcare professional. By incorporating this technology into the pain management routine, individuals can experience relief and get back to doing their normal activities.

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