Guide to using the Electrical Muscle Stimulation Therapy
Electrical muscle stimulation, commonly known as EMS, is a form of electrotherapy that induces muscle contractions using electrical impulses. This repetitive, rhythmic contraction and relaxation strengthen weakened muscles, reduce swelling, alleviate pain, and aid in the healing process of a musculoskeletal injury. The impulses are generated by a stimulation device known as an electrical muscle stimulator and delivered to the affected regions of your body through conductive pads or electrodes that adhere to your skin. The electrical impulses generated by the device replicate the action potential (stimulus for muscle contraction) coming from your central nervous system. This artificial signaling and stimulation lead to rhythmic muscle contraction and relaxation. The high-intensity electrical impulses delivered by the muscle stimulator pad also play a vital role in the excitation of peripheral nerves for muscle contractions.
When Should You Consider an Electrical Muscle Stimulator?Electronic muscle stimulation can help treat and provide relief in the following conditions. Ensure that you buy a muscle stimulator pad from a reputed manufacturer with appropriate quality.
- Muscle atrophy reversal and enhance/regain muscle strength.
- Improving and supporting muscular function and coordination such as weight lifting or stepping your foot.
- Increased local perfusion and minimize skin breakdown.
- Improvement/maintenance in the overall range of motion and joint mobility
- Reduction in muscle spasms. (especially in athletes)
- Alleviate pain caused by various conditions: fibromyalgia, sciatica, arthritis, etc.
- Drug-free pain relief for strained muscles (back, shoulders and neck) due to postural anomalies.
- Rehabilitation after an injury or post-surgical recovery
- Bone density maintenance
- Restorative therapy following a stroke to restore muscle function, strength and reduce pain.
What Factors To Consider For Using Electrical Muscle Stimulator Device?
Electrode/ Muscle stimulator padYour electrode should have an appropriate size and shape for the target muscles/area. So what is the appropriate size? When you search for stimulator pads online, you’ll find multiple and varied options. More coverage over the target muscle group will lead to better and more activation. However, with excessively large muscle stimulation electrodes, impulse leakage becomes a common issue. This will adversely affect the quality of your EMS therapy. The back therapy pad kit by Backpainhelp comes with two different sizes of electrode pads enabling you to efficiently target various muscle groups throughout your body.
Placement of The EMS electrodeDuring the therapy, ensure that your electrodes are placed precisely over the muscles you want to target. You can either keep the target area into either anatomical neutral position or into the position in which they will assume/mimic performing an activity (muscle extension).
Skin SurfaceThe skin surface where you’ll be placing the muscle stimulator pad (electrode) should be clean and dry. It is recommended that you trim any dense hair growth as it might not allow proper adherence. Thus the outcome of the therapy will get affected. The same goes for moisturized skin. The oily layer formed by the moisturizer hampers adherence.
TimeMost portable EMS devices have a pre-programmed timer for 20-30 minutes. Initially, you can begin a short session for 15-20 minutes. With time, if you wish to have long sessions, it is recommended to take a 5-minute break between the pre-programmed sessions. You can change the intensity and pattern of the electrical impulses for each cycle depending on your specific requirement.
Important Parameters For Electrical Muscle Stimulation
- Frequency- can be defined as the number of electrical stimulation pulses delivered each second. It is typically measured in Hertz (Hz). Low frequencies generate a weak muscle twitch or flutter. As you increase the frequency of the impulses (up to around 60-70Hz), the strength of contraction increases. Read the manufacturer instruction guide carefully to understand the functionality of a particular device.
- Pulse- signifies the time length setting for each group of impulses and is measured in microseconds (us) or milliseconds. The Back Therapy EMS Pad with Remote Control offers a pulse range of 100-1000. While a short pulse width can be comfortable, longer pulse width recruits more motor neurons, enhancing the resulting muscle contraction.
- Amplitude or intensity- can be defined as the strength stimulation/impulses delivered. This parameter is generally measured in milliamps (mA). The amplitude should be high enough to accomplish the desired result while remaining comfortable. The therapy pad by back pain offers 10 adjustable intensity levels for targeting various muscles group throughout your body. You can use the “+” and “-” symbols in the device or the remote to control the intensity.