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Quick Guide on Electrical Muscle Stimulation


These days, athletes and fitness enthusiasts have increasingly turned to Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) to gain an edge. Now that EMS is easily available, it is soon gaining the popularity. Also, it has made it big in the Crossfit community.

What is an EMS?

As the word implies, EMS is a machine that uses an electric current for stimulating the muscles.  

This is done because the muscles undergo natural contraction due to the electrical signals coming from the brain. Such EMS machines can reproduce the impulses that help in the muscle contraction.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation is more than what people think and say about it. It is nothing like getting instant results. Some scientific research states that EMS can increase strength when combined with regular exercise and weightlifting. But it does not guarantee instant muscle strength and reduction in muscle soreness or damage. It is true that it may help you maintain your fitness after severe injury or long traveling.

How Does it Work?

The electrical signal traverses through the nerve ending. Hence, the muscles fire as the muscle endplate activates. EMS works the same way. It imitates the process of the nervous system to stimulate muscle growth.

The electrical pads are placed over the affected body area. Later, they are switched on to evoke a response. Mostly, the response involves better and increased blood flow, muscle activation and increased supply of oxygen to the body. This process evokes the muscle contraction and aims at producing the desired output.

Another strong reason behind the working of EMS is the nerve conduction rates recruitment. This means that for the brain to actively and promptly send a message to the muscles, it requires around 10,000 repetitions.

This contraction pattern then becomes the “memory engram.” The frequency of the recruitment of muscles can help the body in actively finding the fastest and better way for muscle recruitment.

EMS in a way provides you with such repeated contractions that accelerate this recruitment process.

Does EMS help in muscle growth?

Many people say that EMS can contract the muscles and help stimulate muscle growth. Well, none of the studies prove anything about this. Moreover, the physiology of the muscle growth is different than what EMS does. EMS does not involve any sort of motion or overload.

Hence, it does not help in the overall muscle development.

Is EMS helpful in improving muscle recovery?

Some light exercise can prove helpful and give rest after a tedious workout. This is called “Active Recovery”. This increases the blood flow in the body, relaxes the muscles and helps them to recover.

While studies prove that EMS neither improve the muscle recovery nor they reduce the muscles soreness. As per scientists, EMS does not increase any blood flow, but Active Recovery does.

How to Use EMS?

Generally, there are different EMS patterns that produce desired outcomes and have varied effects over the body. This can promote healing, reduce pain, improve muscle functioning and more.

Although EMS is used as and in physical therapy, it has strongly emerged as a novice technology. Majority of the athletes utilize it at gym, workplace, home, or even while traveling. This helps to boost the workouts and aid muscle improvement.

There are certain thumb rules one must follow in order to succeed with EMS.

  1. Never skip the warm-up: Always start with a warm-up. Generally, this gives gentle contractions and makes the muscle tissues ready for the powerful stimulations. Some people recommend taking a hot shower prior to warm-up.
  2. Focus on one muscle group at a time: If you focus on one muscle group at one time, then the EMS machines can help you get better results. So, do not focus on other body parts like the back, biceps, quads, and chest all at once.
  3. Focus on limbs one at a time: You want to maximally stimulate the muscle being targeted, and putting the leads on both limbs will dilute the current.
  4. Make sure you keep the muscle relaxed: You should give the muscle complete rest after a workout.
  5. Place the electrode pads properly: This is a must. If you fail to place your electrode pads properly, then it might hamper the results. It is always righteous to follow the instructions before using the machine.

EMS is not for the couch potatoes. You cannot get a six-pack while leisurely sitting and watching Netflix. But if you really want to get in shape and have six-packs like the athletes and other sports enthusiasts, EMS can be your helping hand. Also, it needs a lot of self-motivation and most importantly, a strong willpower to get going.

That is all about EMS. Hope this article clears all your queries and doubts related to the EMS and its use in muscle development and growth.