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Using Electric Muscle Stimulators for Recovery


Using Electric Muscle Stimulators for Recovery

Electric muscle stimulators (EMS) units are devices that deliver electrical impulses to muscles to make them contract.  Many athletes are using EMS to help with recovery by increasing blood flow and removing lactic acid.  Keep reading to learn more about incorporating this into your recovery routine!

EMS Provides Active Recovery

During training, blood vessels in your muscles dilate and lactic acid begins to build up.  This eventually leads to muscle inflammation, more commonly known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  EMS, along with good wellness practices, allows you to get back to training even faster. 

EMS devices provide the stimulus that would naturally come from your central nervous system to contract which releases nitric oxide and promotes the process of angiogenesis. This allows by products to be cleared faster and delivers more nutrients to the muscle to heal and recover. Simply put, EMS devices helps the body recover by increasing blood flow and removing lactic acid.

Controversially, some people believe that EMS should only be delivered by trained professionals, but with self-education, and a proper (and high quality) machine, EMS is a safe practice to do at home.  Further, the results of EMS can be achieved through cheaper methods of recovery (such as body work or manual muscle stimulation) which may point to the high price tag of EMS devices not being worth it.  It is important to research and learn for yourself what types of recovery options may be best for you.  Finally, because the fitness industry is accelerating quickly, many tools used do not have long term research to back up their claims; EMS devices are no exception – some studies show that EMS does not have a significant impact on quicker recovery, but there is some science that rebuttals that.  Make sure to keep an eye on the growing research! 

Five Tips for Using EMS

Interested in starting EMS? We have 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Purchase a high-quality device. We love PowerDot.
  2. Stay consistent and have an objective. As with most practices, consistency is key, and strategy is necessary.  Make sure you are applying the EMS device pads in logistically sound spots to make sure you are contracting the targeted muscle.
  3. Begin using the device on the lowest possible setting. This will allow you to adjust without feeling discomfort.
  4. If you are using an EMS device to recover from an injury, make sure you talk to your doctor before doing so to make sure you are not creating additional trauma or injury.
  5. Once you are comfortable with your device, try incorporating EMS into other parts of your workouts such as using it to increase muscle strength and endurance, and to warm up.

The Takeaway

EMS devices are a recovery aide that helps to increase blood flow and decrease lactic acid through muscle contraction.  Although the verdict is out whether the results are faster than a normal recovery time, many athletes have adopted this practice, and do think there are positive results.  If you are thinking about incorporating EMS into your recovery routine make sure you are using a high-end device, stay consistent, and target the correct spots to get contractions in your desired muscles.

Do you use EMS to help with recovery? Share with us how it has improved your recovery on our social media.