5 Things You Need to Know About Electronic Muscle Stimulation

1. Understanding the Basics
Electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) uses small electrical charges to zap muscles and make them contract and relax automatically. Pads that contain electrodes, connected by wires to a small control unit, are attached to the body and deliver the charges. The theory is that this helps heal damaged muscles and helps strengthen normal muscles without active exercise. EMS is, in fact, widely used by trainers to help athletes rehabilitate after an injury. But, in recent years EMS has exploded on the retail market as the way to sit-back-and-relax while you develop killer abs and lose weight.

2. Medical Uses of EMS
EMS is often used in rehabilitation following surgery or injury. Muscles quickly lose their strength and tone when they are not used. EMS helps patients who can’t move around during recovery regain some muscle tone. Because EMS causes muscles to contract and relax without the patient’s own effort, it keeps the injured muscles active. It’s a kind of “heal as you sleep” method. For pain control, doctors and physical therapists may use a similar device, known as a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) unit.

3. The FDA Regulates EMS
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is quite interested in electronic muscle stimulators. They watch television just like the rest of us. And, when EMS sales became a multi-billion dollar business, the FDA decided to take a serious look. They’re skeptical about the “rock hard abs” and other claims. But, their main concern is safety. EMS devices that have not been approved by the FDA may be a hazard. Electrical leads might cause shocks or even electrocution. EMS devices might also interfere with other medical devices, like pacemakers. Most FDA-approved devices are intended for use by physical therapists. In fact, the FDA website lists only one EMS device (out of the dozens advertised on television) that has met the FDA requirements. So, “let the buyer beware.”

4. EMS and Weight Loss
Nothing sounds better than kicking up your feet, throwing in your favorite movie, and enjoying a little pizza and beer. If you can do that and lose weight at the same time it would be sheer heaven. But, heaven on earth is sometimes hard to find. Infomercials would have you believe the pizza and beer weight loss plan is reality. But, studies show EMS won’t really help you lose weight. The “passive exercise” you get from EMS just isn’t enough for weight loss.

5. EMS is Not a Quick Fix
The bottom line is that EMS has some terrific uses. But, it’s just not the quick and easy fix that TV commercials make it out to be. It’s definitely helpful for rehab after surgery and injury. But, the “six-pack abs” you’re after will require more effort on your part. EMS can help–a little. EMS will help add some tone to your muscles, but the real muscle building will only come through good, old-fashioned hard work.

Source: livestrong.com

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