EMS units – Electro-Muscular Stimulation units are devices that provide an electrical impulse to muscle groups via sticky pads put on your skin. These small portable devices are now not only a viable adjunct to training, injury prevention, strengthening and relaxation – they are affordable!
First an EMS is not a TENS unit. A TENS unit is a similar device designed to provide an electrical stimulation at different depths and frequencies and are intended for pain relief and pain management. TENS units stimulate sensory nerves to block pain signals and stimulate endorphin production (a normal occurring chemical in our bodies).
EMS units are like TENS units on steroids. They have many settings and work to stimulate muscles themselves. EMS units stimulate the motor nerves – the ones that trigger muscle contractions. They are highly effective in treating musculoskeletal and vascular conditions. Athletes use them during rehab to train and condition atrophied muscles. They can also be used to strengthen muscle groups that may be prone to injuries. There are also settings that equate to “massage like” movements that help relax muscle groups.
I Should Know
A couple years ago I was having pain in the tendons around my knees. There was no “knee” injury. It was the result of poor conditioning and weakness of my quads. This led to poor form and favoring muscle groups. That yielded knee pains. I used an EMS unit to help condition myself after this long term layoff to bring my quadricep muscle groups back. Within 2-3 weeks my knee pains were gone. 100%.
I used the unit as part of my exercise routine and integrated it like cross training. I used it 2-4 times a week. Sessions lasted 20-40 minutes.
I am now using the EMS unit as part of rehabbing my calves post-Achilles tendon surgery. The atrophy in my surgical side calf is leading me to change my gait. I have no pain whatsoever in my Achilles tendon however I am still having compensatory aches and pains. The EMS is a critical piece to my recovery and NOT becoming injured someplace else on my body!
If you are an athlete who has chronic injury issues – I especially couldn’t recommend these more! Of course the only way you will know if it is what will get you back to 100% and rolling along full speed again is to try it out. At least the process is now pain free…
And though EMS units can be very pricey and the average athlete may not be ready to add this as an adjunct to their conditioning and injury prevention routines. That has all changed!
[Note: Do not use this company – DME Plus. I have disabled the links as they have shown me that they do not follow through as promised. DMH 7/25/11]
There is a company called DME Plus, Inc. (billed as “Your pain management company”). They do far more than pain management. But, the interesting thing I discovered is that they can get athletes (ok, non-athletes too) EMS units with little or no cost out of pocket! It requires a doctor’s prescription order (MD, DC, DO). DME Plus then works through your insurance company to work out all the details.
They will send you supplies (the electrode patches) each month.
Would you like to learn more? Contact Dimitri Hatzimbes and he will get you rolling. Once you submit your pre-autorization intake form, they take it from there!