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Ezekiel Walker
Ezekiel Walker

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A. Electrical muscle stimulators are considered devices under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Under this law and the agency's regulations, the FDA is responsible for regulating the sale of all electrical muscle stimulators in the United States. Therefore, firms must comply with appropriate FDA premarket regulatory requirements before they can legally sell their stimulators. Most electrical muscle stimulators (EMS devices) that have been reviewed by FDA are intended for use in physical therapy and rehabilitation under the direction of a health care professional. If a company wants to sell EMS devices directly to consumers, the company needs to show FDA it can be used safely and effectively in that setting.




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Q. These electrical muscle stimulators are advertised not only to tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, but also to provide weight loss, girth reduction, and "rock hard" abs. Do they really work?


Q. If I use an electrical muscle stimulator that has met FDA regulatory requirements, will it give me the same kind of effect that lots of sit-ups, stomach crunches and other abdominal exercises will?


A. Using these devices alone will not give you "six-pack" abs. Applying electrical current to muscles may cause muscles to contract. Stimulating muscles repeatedly with electricity may eventually result in muscles that are strengthened and toned to some extent but will not, based on currently available data, create a major change in your appearance without the addition of diet and regular exercise.


A. Yes. The FDA has cleared many electrical muscle stimulators for prescription use in treating medical conditions. Doctors may use electrical muscle stimulators for patients who require muscle re-education, relaxation of muscle spasms, increased range of motion, prevention of muscle atrophy, and for treating other medical conditions which usually result from a stroke, a serious injury, or major surgery. Again, the effect of using these devices is primarily to help a patient recover from impaired muscle function due to a medical condition, not to increase muscle size enough to affect appearance.


Doctors and physical therapists have used electrical devices to treat injured or paralyzed muscles for decades. Functional electrical stimulation (FES) uses an electrical pulse to force muscles to contract. By doing this, it prevents muscle wasting and encourages blood flow to the muscles. It may also help repair damage.


For example, a doctor might recommend ab stimulation following a spinal cord injury to restore some abdominal muscle function and help a person breathe on their own. A 2016 review of 14 previous studies found that, following FES, people with spinal cord injuries were better able to breathe on their own than those acting as controls.


These findings suggest that ab stimulators might improve strength and posture while offering a very small change in waist size. However, the study was very small, and researchers have not replicated it. Therefore, it is impossible to draw strong scientific conclusions about the effectiveness of ab stimulators.


Ab stimulators cannot burn fat. To burn fat, a person must create a calorie deficit, using more calories through exercise and movement than they eat each day. Even when ab stimulators do slightly strengthen muscles, therefore, a person will not notice a difference in their appearance if they are not also burning fat.


Most ab stimulators are adhesive pieces of cloth that a person sticks to their abs. Each portion of the cloth delivers an electric current to the abdominal muscles, causing contractions that a person might not even feel.


A few stimulators offer apps to track progress, and most allow a user to adjust the intensity of muscle contractions. The stimulator should not hurt, sting, or burn, and it should not cause muscle spasms.


Even FDA-regulated stimulators, however, present some dangers. These devices may interfere with other electrical devices, such as pacemakers. They may also cause a person to believe that they are getting exercise or doing something healthful, deterring them from more beneficial exercise and lifestyle changes.


People who wish to improve their posture or address muscle injuries should consider physical therapy. A physical therapist offers targeted exercises and massage. They may also recommend electrical stimulation to improve muscle health.


Is electrical stimulation as effective as conventional exercise training? In a recently performed study by Zampieri et al., sedentary seniors with a normal life style were recruited and randomized either to leg press (LP) exercise or EMS for 9 weeks.27 Before and at the end of both training periods, mobility functional tests were performed and muscle biopsies from the Vastus Lateralis muscles were taken. Altogether, the results demonstrate that EMS improved functional performances more effectively than voluntary training and counteracted fast type muscle fibre atrophy, typically associated with sarcopenia.


Is it beneficial to add EMS to conventional exercise training? Already 1998, Willoughby and Simpson28 concluded that supplementing dynamic contractions with EMS appears more effective than EMS only, or weight training only, for increasing knee extensor strength in female track and field athletes. This finding was corroborated 2010 by Herrero and colleagues29 who documented that superimposed EMS onto voluntary contractions (superimposed technique: application of an electrical stimulus during a voluntary muscle action) increased muscle strength more effectively in healthy individuals. Nevertheless, this beneficial effect of superimposed EMS is still discussed controversially since not all studies could confirm these findings.30 When adding EMS to voluntary contraction in patients already exhibiting muscle atrophy, like CHF, a recently published multicentre randomized prospective study in 91 CHF patients reported no additional improvement in exercise capacity and quality of life when adding EMS to an exercise training program.31 Additional current clinical trials are performed in different patients cohort ("type":"clinical-trial","attrs":"text":"NCT03306056","term_id":"NCT03306056"NCT03306056, "type":"clinical-trial","attrs":"text":"NCT03020693","term_id":"NCT03020693"NCT03020693), and their results will add additional information to this topic.


Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or electromyostimulation, is a protocol that elicits a muscle contraction using electrical impulses that directly stimulate your motor neurons. An EMS unit (like a Powerdot, Compex, Tone-A-Matic, or MarcPro) is a device that delivers this in the comfort of your own home.


Electric muscle stimulator machines are designed to help strengthen and rehabilitate your muscles using tiny electrical impulses to produce a muscle contraction that is thought to help your muscles back to recovery.


The primary purpose of e-stim therapy is to simulate what happens in the body when you voluntarily contract and release a muscle many times in a row. This process strengthens and repairs tissue, particularly muscles which have become shortened, weakened, or atrophied due to injury or disease. For example:


E-stim can also be used by athletes as a muscle conditioning or recovery tool. Some studies have indicated that e-stim can be targeted to create contractions in different types of muscle fibers, allowing athletes (with the guidance and help of professional sports therapists) to train injured or weakened muscles for particular functions and responses. For example, a long-distance runner might use e-stim therapy as a complementary technique to train muscle fibers to resist fatigue.


EMS therapy mimics the action potential that comes from the central nervous system. Action potential is what we call it when a neuron (cell in the nervous system) transmits information (electrical impulses) along an axon (the thread-like conduit leading away from the neuron body, toward other cells). When these impulses pass a threshold, the action potential is fired and something happens. In this case, that something is a muscle contraction.EMS therapy creates steady electric impulses that stimulate muscle contractions--many of them over a sustained therapy session. This repetitive contracting and relaxing of the muscle has the effect of:


When used for recovery, rehabilitation, muscle training, or pain relief, EMS and TENS devices are normally prescription-only and administered by professionals: for example, sports medicine physicians, physical therapists, or orthopedists. There are however, some devices available for over-the-counter purchase and home use.


TENS therapy, on the other hand, is normally used to manage pain (acute or chronic), rather than working with muscle function. Many varieties of TENS devices can be purchased without a prescription for use at home. However, patients are advised to consult with a doctor first, to receive instruction and guidance regarding how to select and use the equipment.


Both EMS and TENS have been in wide use for decades. When administered by professionals, they are safe and painless and have very few if any side effects. Administered correctly, these techniques can make a difference in pain levels and can aid muscle recovery, relaxation, and rehabilitation.To find out if you can benefit from this therapy, you should first have an assessment by a physician. People with open wounds or certain health conditions (such as a pacemaker) should not use use e-stim or TENS therapy without approval from a doctor.


Many weightlifters and professional athletes want to know if you can use TENS or EMS for muscle building during athletic training and conditioning, and if it can help you build muscle faster. The answer is yes, you can use EMS to build muscle faster in some cases. However TENS is used only as a pain reliever and for therapeutic effects. So, while EMS can grow your muscles, TENS can only help ease pain after a workout. 041b061a72


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