Electro Muscular Stimulation

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by deathfactor, Oct 1, 2005.

  1. deathfactor

    deathfactor Banned Banned

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    I purchased an expensive ems unit from a medical wholesaler about 2 years ago, but I stopped using it 5 months later when I had the thought that putting electrodes on my body could be fucking me up, and could lead to cancer.
    I only ever used it on my abs, biceps, triceps, and chest, as the back,shoulder, penis(ha ha)and leg muscles are too complex too be messing with.
    I didn't notice any gains in arm strength, although the muscles that I did use it on seemed harder. I can also do heavier ab excercises than anyone I know, not sure if this is due to the ems, cause I was also using gravity boots at the time.

    I experimented on my friends with it and I noticed that the more they could lift, the more voltage they could handle.

    The ems machine didn't give me a eight pack, I still had a thin layer of fat covering my abs (I have always been thin) but they were harder.

    Have any of you ever used EMS, or TENS (i havent ever used TENS)?
    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. mjfan12

    mjfan12 Brown Belt

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    never used it, but in theory at least it looks like it can work.
     
  3. slugking13

    slugking13 Blue Belt

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    My physioterapist used it on my injured shoulder during my rehab.

    It was a weird sensation, but I think it did helped to strengthen my shoulder to some degree.
     
  4. morganfreeman

    morganfreeman Brown Belt

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    Charlie Francis said he used them when training sprinters, particularly to train around injuries. In the interview I read, he said that they were only useful at extremely high voltages. Presumably he wasn't sticking to arms, chest and abs either. I've never used one and I'm in no rush to try (personally, I always figured that if I really wanted to, I could get the same effect with a car battery) but i'm not to big on isolating muscle groups. Stick a leather strap in your mouth and enjoy yourself. Or not. I'm alright either way.
     
  5. krellik

    krellik Gimli son of Cisco

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    No idea what "ems" on "tens" means. My only experience of them are from being drunk at a friends house, he picked them out and the whole party tried them, and laughed like crazy since it is a real fucked up feeling... I just it on the "hardest" setting on my left shoulder, the most interesting thing was that, that arm keept "flinching" for a week.. Never wanted to use them again.

    In theory the bigest problem I see with them if someone exclusively uses them, shouldnt it be a problem that the muscles would get stronger than the tendons and ligaments (because I cant see how they can be strengthened from this training, am I wrong?)
     
  6. Urban

    Urban Savage Mystic

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    I hear they're useful for rehab and recovery, not much else.
     
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  7. wasptrash

    wasptrash cynical swine

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    When I was about eleven, I picked up a broken pay phone that had some stripped wires sticking out. I put it up to my ear and began messing with it. When I started hitting the buttons I got a nice little shock on my right temple. Actually hurt a bit.
     
  8. farmboy

    farmboy Banned Banned

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    I had the cheapo ab exerciser. It didn't really work for me, but like I said, it was a cheap one. Didn't Bruce Lee used to use them? Or was that just for the movie?
     
  9. ENTROPY

    ENTROPY Purple Belt

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    Since the 60's Electrical MuscleStimulation (EMS) has been used primarily for rehabilitation, to prevent muscle loss (atrophy) of specific denervated muscles. However recently it has been heavily marketed as a weight loss, strength and "toning" tool. The allure of watching TV, driving or working at a desk while apparently working out is very hard to resist. In fact many have bought the AB-Tronic device or similar ab belts, clearly giving in to this temptation.

    EMS comprises of a unit which basically passes an electrical current to specific muscles, via wires and electrodes that are attached superficially to the skin. While in the clinical and rehabilitation environment EMS has proven helpful to build up certain muscles which otherwise may never have been built, due to nerve or other damage, in the general population manufacturers claims have never been tested. Too often fitness products proposed to lose weight, tone up or flatten the abs, never undergo any clinical testing for effectiveness and sometimes even safety. Thus a warning light must come on after seeing or hearing claims from manufacturers even if they do not directly say it. (IE. They may "get" which means "pay" someone else to swear by the product)

    Luckily there are credible, unbiased studies designed to find out whether these products work, how well they work and whether the marketing claims stand up when scientifically tested. So, "NO" manufacturers of fitness products do not have to test the effectiveness of their product and "NO" they don't have to prove that what they are marketing is the truth. What does this mean to you? Read on.

    This scientific study set up two similar groups of people to put the EMS system to the test. All people in the study performed tests before being "hooked up" to this system to determine initial or what's called "baseline" measures of body composition and strength levels. Tests included things such as body weight, skinfolds to determine body fat, girths to determine muscle mass, and muscle strength tests of various muscles, obviously including ones which were to be EMSed. They tested strength levels of the biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings using various methods.

    The action group then performed EMS training according to the manufacturers' description, 3 times per week for a total of 8 weeks. The control group performed "sham EMS" which acts as a placebo to remove out the strong psychological component of testing. So even the control group performed what they thought was EMS, using a more mild electrical current with "lower amplitude". After 8 weeks, the results of both groups were compared for the test parameters of body composition and strength.

    After 8 weeks of "shock therapy" or Electrical Muscle Stimulation, there was no difference between groups for any of the tested parameters. Keeping in mind that the groups were identical in terms of age, height, weight or percentage body fat, this is what scientific studies unfortunately sometimes discover. So there was no difference between EMS and non EMS groups for 7 skinfolds, bodyweight, or lean body weight (muscle), percentage of bodyfat or fat weight from pre to post testing in either group. No difference were seen in girths of the various body sites tested in either group including the abdominals. Even strength levels were not elevated by EMS training.

    The researchers of this study also concluded that, "there were no significant changes in the appearance of firmness or tone in either group from pre- to post testing" which runs contrary to what these manufacturers clearly state in their marketing. So the moral of the story here is not to believe everything you hear, read or are told by manufacturers, marketers and their close associates. Most give you what you want to hear. Scientific studies like this one gives and we aim to give you the truth.

    The allure of watching TV, driving or working at a desk while apparently working out is very hard to resist. In fact many have bought the AB-Tronic device or similar ab belts, clearly giving in to this temptation.

    After 8 weeks of Electrical Muscle Stimulation, there was no difference between groups for any of the tested parameters.

    "No difference between EMS and non EMS groups for 7 skinfolds, bodyweight, or lean body weight (muscle), percentage of bodyfat or fat weight"

    "No difference in girths in either group and no changes in skinfolds. For those here, how are no doubt interested, strength levels were not elevated by EMS training.

    One can safely conclude that the evidence supports the hypothesis that Electrical Muscular Stimulation has no effects on body composition such as muscle mass.

    REFERENCE:
    Porcari, J.P., K. P. McLean, C. Foster, T. Kernozek, B. Crenshaw, and C. Swenson. Effects of electrical muscle stimulation on body composition, muscle strength, and physical appearance. J. Strength Cond. Res. 16(2):165-172. 2002
     
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  10. rickdog

    rickdog Purple Belt

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    I worked in the Physical Therapy Department at Lahey Clinic in Ma. The EStem systems work great to help muscle recovery and help break down muscle tone but as far as strength I've never read any experiments on it and really wouldn't waste my time with it. My rational is, if it worked all that well you would hear of it all the time. Something like this would not remain hidden all these years if it carried along with it phenomenal results. Anyway, that's just my opinion so take it for what it;s worth.
     
  11. rickdog

    rickdog Purple Belt

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    Ok Actually I have read a study posted by Entropy. Just wanted to say thanks, that was interesting. You are a valuable resource to this board. I wish you had more time to post Entropy.
     
  12. Rjkd12

    Rjkd12 Certified Bastard

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    I think this has to do with the fact that it is assumed that the tension that is created somehow tells the muscles to grow. Granted, there are a ton of researchers investigating this and we know very little, I do think the general idea is you need tension. Tension is not really created by a contraction without weight or just 'flexing' which is what this machine does.

    You can have all muscle fibers active by doing a very fast contraction, such as throwing a baseball, but that will not get you huge. Hence why studies that show "EMS" as a sign of how much a muscle will grow or hypertrophy isn't necessarily correct. So electrical stimulation doesn't necessarily mean you are going to increase protein synthesis, get stronger or get larger. It is the tension that you create on the individual sarcomeres/myofibrils.
     
  13. ENTROPY

    ENTROPY Purple Belt

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    About 5 days ago I was attacked by certain individuals here, and now I'm being thanked for my input. Interesting dilemma...

    To you and the others who appreciate my input, thanks for the appreciation.

    By the way, I wish I had more time too.
     
  14. HULKAMANIA

    HULKAMANIA Blue Belt

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    I am a certain individual! I led the attack!

    But that doesn't mean I don't genuinely appreciate your posts. It just means I'm an English major, a belligerent one.

    (EDIT: Yes, I edited this post. I edited for punctuation. I don't care!)
     
  15. ENTROPY

    ENTROPY Purple Belt

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    To be fair, unlike some others, you were man enough to thank me for my input after all was said and done...
     
  16. dogmai

    dogmai Orange Belt

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    Haha a buddy of mine used one of these on his face when he was drunk, fucking dumb ass
     
  17. farmboy

    farmboy Banned Banned

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    I have to admit, it is rather sickening to watch some of the commercials/infomercials on television that promote the "exercise less/eat what you want" programs. It's frustrating for the people out there that know that in order to get anywhere you have to work hard.

    On the other hand, I can see how alluring it may be for the coach potatoe out there who wants to look like allof the "hunks" they see on their daytime soaps, but don't have the drive or motivation to do anything about it.

    "!0 minutes a day, 3 days a week! Eat Spaghetti and chocolate cake for every meal!" If only it were that easy.
     
  18. theycallitMurda

    theycallitMurda Black Belt

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    One of my friends nephew has one, and I've just recently been starting to see him again.

    I don't really train that much and I'm pretty unhealthy but he and his nephew use it a lot and they've had significant results with these muscle stimulation devices. They also work out as well but these devices seem to help them along way.

    I've read reviews on the internet and they seem to work a great deal. On your abs, they seem to tone you up within a month, maybe even a slight 6-pack showing and your triceps/biceps seem to get bigger the more you use it. Also, I've heard reviews that they're very good for the pecs/chest.

    I know this is an old thread but I tried my friends the other day, and with the reviews I've read, I'm thinking of buying one. I want to know if anyone here has one or has had one? And if they worked for you? And what are the risks and complications? Thanks.
     
  19. xilliun

    xilliun Brown Belt

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    Summary of a journal I just checked quickly (Holcom, 2005, Is Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation an Effective Alternative to Resistance Training?)

    This paper discusses the efficacy of using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) in lieu of resistance training for the development of muscular fitness. Evidence suggests that NMES is not effective in the development of muscular size, power, or coordination relative to voluntary resistance training. Evidence supporting strength gains is limited to single joint training, and improvements in body composition do not occur. Even though NMES is well supported as a tool in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries, it should not be recommended as an effective alternative to traditional resistance training.
     
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  20. DrBdan

    DrBdan Something clever

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    It's a rehab tool and nothing more. As rickdog said 7 years ago, if it was an effective tool for getting stronger you'd hear about it all the time. But you don't so there you go.

    Seriously though, epic bump.
     
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