Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is also regarded as neuromuscular stimulation or electromyostimulation. It is aimed at inducing muscle contraction with the aid of electric impulses.
EMS has gained immense popularity for its effective role in the following
- it acts as a strength training device for healthy subjects and athletes for increasing the power, endurance of the muscle, improves VO2 max
- it can be of great help to rehabilitate people with partial or total paralysis, for building and strengthening muscle
- it can be used as a testing device to assess the neural and/ or muscular function
- it can of much help to athletes as a post-exercise recovery device to enhance the blood flow and get rid of lactic acid, promotes muscle relaxation and prevents cramps
- It also claims to reduce weight, acts as an aid for toning the muscles
How does Electrical Muscle Stimulation works
The mechanism of working of the EMS consist of the production of impulses that are transmitted through the electrodes placed on the skin close to the muscles requiring stimulation. Usually the electrodes consist of pads that stick on the skin. The basic principal of action comprises of the feature of the impulses that imitate the action potential released by the central nervous system leading the muscles to contract. EMS supplies an electrical current at a prefixed, specifically designed frequency to act on the motor nerves.
EMS Devices for Home Use
In the United States, EMS devices abide by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some devices do claim to have favourable effect in weight loss and fitness.
Non-professional devices are designed for personal use at home. It consists of wearable units in which EMS circuitry is fixed in belt-like garments (e.g. ab toning belts) or other clothing items. The Relax-A-Cizor was one brand of EMS designed and manufactured by the U.S. company Relaxacizor, Inc. The electrodes are given with the EMS device are attached to the skin, near the muscle needed to stimulate. The device can be charged by either battery or the household current. In case of equipped with batteries, it is advisable to go for the one with rechargeable batteries.
Type of Electrodes
The electrodes comprise of various materials for different uses:
- Plastic Electrode Pads also labelled as gel comprises of a conducting plastic material. They are flexible and require gel to cover larger area, enhance conductivity and restrict areas where the current would concentrate. It is required that such types of pads be kept in proper place with the aid of medical tape. It is recommended in the presence of lot of hair on the skin.
- Self –adhesive electrodes consist of a conductive mesh end of a conductive layer and performs the dual function as a gel and as the adhesive. The gel enhances the conduction and takes care of the irregularities of the skin that act as a conduction obstacle. It far easy to use as compared to the plastic one. However, the adhesive quality reduces over time due to repetitive uses especially due to sweat. The duration of its efficiency depends on the quality of the pad. It is imperative to refrain from applying skin lotions as they are detrimental to the adhesiveness and durability.
- Self-Sticking Film is another option that can be considered and can be used in combination with plastic pads. The adhesive part is replaced as and when it wears out.
It is advisable to go for the one which has a warranty of at least a year, subsequently one can also opt for extension of the warranty.