A lot of people wonder about the use of electronic muscle stimulators in sport and training, and the fact is that they do have their place. Although not at the forefront of methods that will help you be the best, they can certainly give you an edge in both your training and recovery. The problem is that they don’t come cheap, so here are a couple of great cheap electrical muscle stimulator options from Amazon that I found. If you want to see the full range of EMS machines to choose from then click here.
Not everyone is going to need one of these machines, but they can help to give you the extra edge in several parts of your training. But just how does it work? Well an EMS unit works by firing all the motor neurons in the area being treated at the same time. The contraction that you get is mostly isometric, as opposed to most voluntary muscle contractions that we do in everyday life, which run through the muscle like a wave. The contractions that you can induce with an EMS unit can actually be up to 30% higher than a voluntary one, which is why we start to see how this little machine could be useful in some areas of sports training, the contractions you get from it are simply not possible in any other means.
Applications In Sport
The biggest challenge remains in how to apply it to sports training. There are basically four ways that an EMS machine can be used, to develop strength, to recover faster, to help rehabilitation and to learn muscle and motor recruitment.
Firstly a little disclaimer, EMS machines should only be used by people who are more advanced in their training. You want to get extra gains, have a decent base first, or it’s not going to help. Do it with the right leg workout, and you can get great benefits. Now, there is some evidence out there that you can get gains from using an EMS machine in regards to maximal strength. There is also evidence that it can help field performance and increase vertical jump and speed. However, as with anything else it needs to be used over a certain amount of time, one session isn’t going to get you anywhere. You also really need to crank up the contraction, working below what you can do voluntarily is not going to achieve anything. Try to use it as the last training you do in the day, and remember that it doesn’t affect your CNS, and you don’t need to factor it into your recovery. The contraction that you need will feel huge, but won’t cause you any side effects. EMS programs are usually labelled well, but best to speak to someone about the right protocol.
Injury and Rehabilitation
I mentioned the use of electrical muscle stimulators for injury and rehabilitation. It can play a huge role in the process, and is used in a lot of clinics. Muscle activation is important to keep the muscle in a state that it was before the injury, but also to be able to teach new muscles how to get going, a great example is some VMO training with the EMS machine. Initially low settings on the EMS should be used, however after 72 hours you can crank it up. This will really help to reduce adhesions forming in the muscles if not a lot of movement can be achieved.
Recovery After Exercise?
Sports recovery is essential to being the best and getting the adaptations that you need. If you recovery well, your body will adapt and you will be more than ready to attack the next session. Which means training harder. Training harder means getting more out of your work and hopefully increasing in the areas you are focusing on. Electronic Muscle Stimulators can be a help in this area, and give you that extra edge. Combine them with other recovery methods and you will feel the benefits.
But how exactly do they help enhance the recovery process?
It basically can act similarly to a massage, and stimulates the blood flow and creates a pumping effect within the muscle. It can induce a relaxed state, and also stop adhesions forming in the muscle. It really can enhance recovery, but needs to be used with other methods. Combine this with foam rolling, contrast methods, tennis ball therapy and massage, and you will be well on your way to fully recovered state.
My Personal Experience
I have used EMS units for recovery and to help rehabilitation for a couple of years now, although I don’t personally have one. If I have an area that is particularly bothering me (which has been my shoulder in recent seasons of Volleyball), I apply the pads as they should be, and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Without fail, I always feel a little better after it. Getting the muscle moving and activating helps a lot. I have and will continue to use it for injury recovery, and general recovery. Touch wood I don’t get a major injury, but there is definitely going to be EMS used to make sure I don’t lose everything I have. Make up your own mind, but electronic muscle stimulators certainly have their place in the sports world.