Muscle Stimulators vs. TENS Machines - What do you need?
You’ve probably heard a lot about muscle stimulators recently and chances are, you’ve heard TENS being mentioned, as well. They are both commonly advertised machines that you can get easily for home use. But what is the difference between these two treatments? If you aren’t sure about this then you won’t be able to make the best purchase decision.
The main difference between the two is that a muscle stimulator is used to cause muscle contraction, while TENS focuses on nerve stimulation and tries to avoid contracting the muscles. Both use electrical pulses to do their job, but have different purposes.
The main use of a TENS machine is for pain relief, particularly in the case of chronic pain. It is most often used for joint or muscle pain that won’t go away, but can also be used to help treat nerve problems without resorting to drugs. It isn’t uniformly effective, that is, different people will have different results. For some, TENS electrical pulses interrupt the pain signals so effectively that they are literally without pain. For others, the relief is nearly non-existent, but most commonly, this treatment provides considerable relief from the chronic pain that haunts the user.
On occasion, with medical consent, the TENS can be used at the end of pregnancy, to help alleviate the pains associated with early labor. Since this is only recommended with a doctor’s permission, it’s not a good idea to try this without checking first.
TENS can be used for up to 12 hours and consists of two small electrodes that are placed on either side of the area where the pain originates. The higher frequencies tend to block the pain signals, while much lower frequencies will stimulate the body to produce endorphins which naturally reduce pain.
This is a very similar machine to the TENS, also using two electrodes to send electrical pulses through the body. However, the purpose is quite different. Here, the purpose is to cause the muscles to contract and the reason has nothing to do with pain relief.
Muscle stimulation has been found to be an effective method of training the muscles. The electrical impulses mimic those of the brain to tell muscles to move. There are two main reasons to use a muscle stimulator.
Training: Using electrical stimulation for training purposes is very useful. It allows the person to focus on specific muscle groups by choosing the right frequency and will work just those muscles, working them and conditioning them. This is particularly useful for aesthetic purposes.
Medical: When it comes to therapeutic use, electrical pulses can be used to stimulate muscles that are not being used. This can keep them conditioned and prevents atrophying. It’s a useful measure in medical situations.
Both TENS machines and muscle stimulators have their uses, but they are very different in their reasons for being used. If you are looking for an alternative to standard pain relief, then the TENS machine is what you should be looking at. However, for the prevention of atrophied muscles and to define specific muscle groups, the muscle stimulator is the way to go.
Now that you know the difference between these two different types of therapies, you’ll be able to choose the correct one. These machines can be bought for home use and you can safely use them yourself, as long as you follow the directions and take care not to use them if you have heart problems or a pacemaker.