The other side: how EMS training can help rehabilitation and recovery
28 May, 2020
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) training is commonly used for weight loss and achieving the perfect body. However, there’s another side to EMS training. Though still underutilised, many people around the world have rediscovered their physicality from using EMS training and therapy as a form of recovery and rehabilitation. While not used as the sole method of either, EMS has proven to be an effective addition to recovering bodies of all kinds.
How can a weight loss training program help in my recovery or rehabilitation?
Just because EMS training is mostly used for weight loss, does not mean that it can’t be used to strengthen and help in the rehabilitation and recovery of muscles. As a preventative and rehabilitative measure, EMS training is used for these purposes.
- Pain relief – Though not the main use of EMS training, it can still help break the pain cycle in your body. Combined with pad placements and isolated exercises, joint pain can be greatly reduced.
- Muscle memory – As a protective measure after an injury, the muscle may switch off as your body’s response to prevent further damage. EMS therapy can help jumpstart them and avoid secondary injuries.
When should EMS for rehabilitation and recovery be used?
Let’s break down exactly how EMS training can rehabilitate your body.
Post-workout muscle recovery
When you exercise, your body stretches in response, causing microscopic tears in your muscle fibres and connective tissues that eventually result in inflammation and an accumulation of electrolytes and lactic acid. Over time, your muscles adjust and recover, however, it comes with muscle soreness. To prevent this post-workout soreness and reduce your muscle recovery time, EMS can be done right after a workout. It increases circulation and flushes out the build-up of lactic acid that occurs after exercising—the major culprits of post-workout pain. If you’ve ever seen professional athletes and their coaches after training, you would notice that the coach sometimes vigorously ‘shakes’ the leg and arms muscles of the athlete. This basically performs the same function of EMS, except that EMS is a lot more effective.
Muscle strengthening before surgery
“Fifty per cent of outcome success is due to the surgeon, and the other 50 per cent is due to the patient’s commitment to recovery – starting with pre-hab,” says Vonda Wright, MD, chief of Northside Hospital Sports Medicine in Atlanta.
Pre-hab is a proactive approach to avoiding further pain, weakness and injury in a particular area. EMS training can be especially effective during this phase. Due to its intensive activation of muscles, it effectively strengthens tissues, provides stability around vulnerable areas and improves joint function—elements that reduce the potential for injury. If an injury occurs, then according to Dr Wright, pre-hab would greatly increase the chance of a positive surgery outcome and healing further down the road.
Enable training of weak or atrophied muscles
Muscle atrophy is a condition that occurs when someone has a neuromuscular imbalance or incurs a musculoskeletal injury that renders them unable to use their muscles with the usual frequency. Muscles essentially become weaker. Attempting to gain strength in weak or atrophied muscles can be difficult because usually, the same or surrounding weak muscles are recruited to aid in the contraction. All that is needed for the strengthening of the muscles is a working connection of the motor nerve to the muscle so that the EMS can assist the brain-muscle connection and supply the signal for muscle contraction. With EMS training, muscles in the entire motor unit are utilised and contracted over a larger and deeper area. This doesn’t only make the strengthening of muscles a possibility, but it also allows it to be done faster because of the intensity of the long contraction facilitated by the EMS training suit.
Rebalance muscular system
The electric impulses directly hit all major muscle fibres and activate all muscle groups simultaneously. This allows you to not only build on your already strong muscles but to also strengthen weaker ones simultaneously. This rebalances your overall muscle strength, a key issue for persons who previously lost mobility in a part of their body due to injury.
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