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Recommended Uses For Electronic Muscle Stimulation

Using a series of electric impulses to create a contraction of the muscles is referred to as electronic muscle stimulation. This same process can also be called neuromuscular electrical stimulation or ElectroMyoStimulation as well. It is used in many different ways: in medical procedures, among competing athletes, and even for personal in-home toning.

Padded electrodes are placed on the skin near the muscles targeted for stimulation. A device is turned on which produces electrical impulses that travel through the electrodes. This electricity is similar to the naturally occurring action potentials emitted from the central nervous system. Therefore, it creates the same result: muscle contraction.

Electricity was first proven to stimulate muscles in the 1700s. In the following two centuries, it was studied yet further. The discovery was made that not only does muscle move with an electrical impulse, but it undergoes lasting change. In some studies it was claimed that athletes had increased force behind their movements after ElectroMyoStimulation. However, in the 1970s these results could not satisfactorily be explained and were still unconvincing.

In research since, it is believed that the mechanism of neuromuscular electrical stimulation is better understood. The electrical treatments can have effects on different types of muscle fibers. Fibers are activated with different forms of electrical currents. Some currents bring about the contraction of one fiber where another current is necessary for a different fiber to contract. Therefore, results are different. With one type of activation, fatigue is improved. With another, muscles can gain strength and produce more force.

Yet even with increased knowledge, the effectiveness of use for athletes is still not widely accepted. Some coaches are known to use it continually for their players, including professional and successful coaches. The average consumer can purchase devices as well and wear equipment on the body to tone underlying muscles. One example of this is a belt which claims to tone the abdominal region.

Electronic muscle stimulation is used for medical reasons as well. It works effectively in physical therapy sessions to prevent muscles from atrophying due to disuse. This is normally a problem for individuals with skeletal or muscular problems. When bone, joints, tendon, ligaments or muscles are injured, movement is often compromised for extended period of time. To prevent the side effect of weakening muscles, electrical stimulation works very well.

Aesthetic uses have been attempted as well. The hope was that use of certain devices could bring about weight loss, but the Federal Drug Administration rejects this. Any calories burned are in insignificant amounts. For profound results several different muscles must be activated simultaneously with the circulatory and respiratory systems. The activation of one muscle at a time will not have anywhere near the same impact.

With the correct impulses, muscles can gain endurance and strength. These benefits can successfully and safely be applied to medical physical therapy sessions. Mixed results have been seen when used by aspiring athletes or when used by the general public. For the purpose of weight loss, devices have been rejected certification by the government. There is little or no evidence that this treatment will have any impact whatsoever on an individuals weight.


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