This is part two of an article contributed by Giovanni Ciriani an expert on EMS devices and systems. I have personal experience with the Globus EMS device. You can read my experiences here: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Several studies on individual- and team-sport athletes (eg, swimming, track and field, weight lifting, basketball, volleyball, ice hockey, rugby) have reported significant improvement in maximal strength, and in some cases even in anaerobic-power production (vertical jump and sprint ability) likely to affect field performance. These improvements, like any type of training, follow specific routines: the EMS programs used during a session, involve a number of repetitions (10-40); the contractions are strong and long enough, and adequate rest time between one contraction and the next to allow the muscle to recharge; the EMS training is repeated several times a week; results are obtained after several weeks. This is complicated enough, but fortunately in the current generation of EMS machines, the EMS programs needed for a session are ready and properly labeled. However, the frequency of EMS training per week and the number of weeks of training are best decided with a coach who has EMS experience. In addition performance improvement of sport movements requiring neuromuscular coordination can only be obtained if EMS is used in conjunction with “voluntary traditional exercise”.
One form of EMS though, is very successful for almost everybody, without the need of a coach. Active recovery is an EMS program that generates rhythmic muscle twitches, in fast succession, promoting blood flow. It feels like a massage, but because of the incessant and rapid nature of the twitch, it is several times more effective, and helps remove the byproducts of exercise: the breakdown of proteins and other residues that typically cause inflammation and next-day soreness. Very recent sport-medicine studies have shown that EMS Active Recovery programs are more effective than other forms of recovery. Because EMS Active Recovery generates only twitches, it doesn’t cause secondary training effects, and it can be easily and safely done without knowing anything about EMS. Even performing EMS several times a day does not interfere with other forms of voluntary training, although the closer to the training, the more effective it will be.
One obvious advantage of using EMS Active Recovery is that it facilitates access to the muscle by naturally-produced biochemicals, which our body employs to rebuild stronger muscles. As a consequence, athletes who are striving to rapidly improve their performance will be able to recover faster and possibly squeeze one more training during the week. The other advantage is that by decreasing next-day muscle soreness, the athlete will be able to avoid skipping days.
Initially, it seems that these devices are pricey. However, cost-benefit analysis showed me that it is definitely no more expensive than traditional healthcare and physical therapy in trying to get back up to speed for sports. Second, it is far more flexible in its use – you do not and should not wait until you are in rehab to get the benefits. These function to optimize your conditioning and even prevent muscle imbalances in the first place. And as mentioned in the final paragraph above, the greatly aid in recovery – you won’t get your healthcare providers to do that!
Do you have interest in using EMS? Contact me directly and I can get you going. coach@RxRunning.com