The electric muscle stimulator claims to help you increase muscle tone while you do absolutely nothing. Undoubtedly, this is an appealing prospect, but can it possibly work and, if so, how?
How Long Has the Electric Muscle Stimulator Been Around?
Believe it or not, the first scientific research to prove the ability of electricity to stimulate muscle movement came back in 1791. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this topic fascinated scientists, who identified the exact properties of electricity that stimulated muscles and showed that this could affect long-term alterations to the muscle exposed to electric impulses.
However, it was not until the 1960s, when the Soviet Union began using an electric muscle stimulator to train its athletes that the notion of using this technique to create ‘the body beautiful’ began.
So, how does it work? Well, electric muscle stimulation (EMS) is the delivery of electric impulses into the muscles via electrodes (pads placed over the muscles). The electricity mimics what is known as the action potential, which in natural circumstances would come from the central nervous system, and causes the muscle or muscles to contract.
The effect of this procedure is different depending on the fiber type of the muscle being treated and the method of treatment. However, it is believed that under the correct circumstances EMS may increase the strength of a muscle, improve muscle endurance and fatigue resistance.
Are EMS Products Safe?
In the U.S., EMS products are approved by the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, and are certified in two categories: over-the-counter products that you could go out and buy today, and prescription products that are designed for treating a medical condition and must be used under supervision.
Typically, an electric muscle stimulator is perfectly safe. However, in accordance with FDA guidelines, all products must carry literature about the possible side effects and the danger for certain groups of people, for example, those with pacemakers.
Should You Buy an EMS Product?
Consumer opinion over these products is divided. Many will state that EMS did nothing for them, whereas others claim to have noticed a marked difference. However, this may come down to the effectiveness of individual products, the method of use and the age of the user, because all of these factors will affect the success of the product. If you are interested in purchasing an electric muscle stimulator, it is advisable to research the specific brand and seek the opinion of fellow customers.
There is published work documenting the benefits of EMS in sports training, but it wise to remember that this is based on the most sophisticated equipment available and is coupled with workout routines.
Obviously, in some instance, electric muscle stimulators are effective. However, it is worth mentioning that these products are by no means necessary. In fact, you are likely to achieve better results with a few sit-ups every day and they will not cost you a penny.
Remember, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, quick fixes rarely live up to expectation.