Chiropractic and Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS)

What is EMS?

Muscle Stimulation is referred to as NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation) or EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) and is useful for rehabilitation of muscles following injury or stroke. The device is technically similar to TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) but is powerful enough to achieve a strong muscle contraction. The stimulation phases on-and-off to mimic conventional exercise and thus will cause strengthening of the muscle fibers and increase in muscle “tone.”

EMS Explained

Using EMS, the brain sends a nerve impulse to the “motor point” of your muscle. This signal is a message to the muscles to expand and contract. Electrodes are placed over the motor points of the muscle group to be exercised. When the stimulation is applied through the pads, the signal finds its way to these motor points and causes the muscle to expand and contract. This makes it possible to duplicate conventional exercise.

During an exercise, your brain sends a message down the spinal cord through the nerves with all the muscles you’re using that causes them to relax and contract. This is called voluntary muscle action. Your brain is controlling the muscle.

Electrical muscle stimulation uses an outside electrical source that stimulates the nerves to send signals to your muscle to expand and contract. This is done by sending electrical current through self adhesive electrodes placed over the muscle. The current passes through your skin to the nerves in that area, causing the muscle to expand and contract.

Studies have shown that EMS stimulates large nerve axons (long outgrowths of a nerve cell body), some of which you cannot stimulate voluntarily. It is possible that EMS might allow for additional muscle hypertrophy (increased development of tissue by enlargement, without multiplication of cells).

EMS can increase muscle hypertrophy (growth), endurance and strength. Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) may be used only for this or with regular weight training by aiding recovery and helping muscles grow and get stronger. EMS can increase body temperature, heart rate and metabolism (promoting energy and fat absorption from the body).

Indications for the EMS are:

  1. Relaxation of muscle spasm
  2. Prevention or retardation of disuse atrophy
  3. Increasing local blood circulation
  4. Muscle re-education
  5. Immediate post-surgical stimulation of calf muscles to prevent venous thrombosis
  6. Maintaining or increasing range of motion

How Does An Electronic Muscle Stimulator (EMS) Work?

Where attached to the body, the gentle electrical source stimulates the nerves to send signals to your muscles to expand and contract. Just as injury or strain creates a damaging domino effect, EMS brings down one problem that reduces another and another. Increased blood flow speeds the blood’s nutrients to injured tissue, which assists in healing and makes a contracted muscle expand (which relaxes the muscle) relieving painful spasm.

Releasing muscle tension frees circulatory pathways, which along with increased circulation, reduces swelling and inflammation. As a result, range of motion is increased.

So lie back and relax while your chiropractor places the special EMS pads on the area of concern. They will slowly increase the intensity until you tell them you’re receiving the right amount of stimulation. You are always in control.

If you are suffering from any muscle-related problem, discuss your situation with a Minnesota Chiropractor.