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28 (Powerful) Benefits of Electrical Muscle Stimulation

Using electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) may enhance your athletic performance and provide other health benefits, including building muscle strength, accelerating recovery from injury, and improving cosmetic muscle tone.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation Benefits

If you’re looking for ways to optimize your sporting performance, you may have heard about electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), or been encouraged to buy an EMS device.

EMS essentially stimulates the nerves and induces muscle contractions, mimicking the way your muscles contract during a workout.

Unlike TENS which is primarily used for pain management, an EMS device is used as a performance enhancing tool by athletes at all levels.

However there are many other lesser known advantages…

We’ve taken a look at all the research and discovered 28 powerful benefits of electrical muscle stimulation that might just persuade you to try it for yourself:

Benefit 1: Builds Muscle Strength

1: Builds Muscle Strength

It has long been known that EMS is an effective tool for building muscle.

As far back as 1982, studies were being conducted. In Russia highly trained athletes received EMS treatment for nine weeks.

Incredibly, respondents saw overall strength improvements of between 30% and 40%.

Scientists stated that electrical muscle stimulation induced greater isometric force than voluntary muscle contractions.

Muscle size in men was also reviewed in a more recent piece of research conducted by the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Results again concluded that both strength and muscle size was increased following regular EMS therapy.

If you’re looking to build muscle strength, take a look at the PowerDot 2.0, an EMS device that connects to your smartphone.

Watch the below video and learn a little more about how it works:

YouTube video

The clever app offers tailored programs, including sequences specifically created to build strength.

Benefit 2: Accelerates Recovery from Injury

2: Accelerates Recovery from Injury

If you’re suffering with pain from an injury, you need a TENS unit. However if you want to speed up your recovery, EMS can help!

To understand how the treatment could help athletes recover from injury, 14 men were invited to take part in a trial.

Each respondent had to carry out repetitive elbow movements followed by an EMS session.

A significant reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness was observed, as well as improved range of motion.

Incredibly, electrical muscle stimulation has been shown to speed up recovery from a nerve injury.

A small scale study demonstrated how the nerve cells that would naturally regenerate, actually regenerated faster following EMS treatment.

Benefit 3: Improves Sporting Performance

3: Improves Sporting Performance

Massage guns, like the popular Theragun, are well-known tools for improving sporting performance, but did you know EMS can help too?

Exciting findings in 2012 demonstrated just how powerful it can be for athletes.

Conclusions, based on 89 separate studies, found that EMS enhanced physical performance.

Significant improvements were seen in speed, force, strength and power of the trained and elite athletes studied.

In fact, following just three to six weeks of stimulation, vertical jump height was improved by up to 25%!

It’s no wonder NBA athlete Trey Burke, is such a fan of the PlayMakar SPORT Electrical Muscle Stimulator.

Take a look at the video below, to see the workout tool in action:

YouTube video

There are 10 different EMS programs to choose from, plus TENS options for pain relief.

Benefit 4: Offers Relief from Cramps

4: Offers Relief from Cramps

Spontaneous cramps can be seriously painful.

Calf cramps in particular were the focus of a 2018 project, which took 19 individuals who experienced cramping at least once a week.

Over the course of six weeks they used electrical muscle stimulation regularly on their legs, with fascinating results.

The number of cramps experienced was 78% lower than before the treatment, with the severity of their cramps also significantly reduced.

Benefit 5: Retrains Muscles

5: Retrains Muscles

There is a small amount of evidence to suggest that EMS is capable of retraining muscles following an injury.

Encouraging results from a project in Brazil, found some evidence that the therapy can increase voluntary function in partially paralyzed muscles.

Benefit 6: Enhances Range of Motion

6: Enhances Range of Motion

Research looking at 940 stroke patients, found that EMS was effective in improving range of motion.

29 clinical trials focusing on spasticity of the muscles following a stroke, were reviewed.

Electric muscle stimulation was applied on various areas of the body, with overwhelmingly positive results.

The findings led professionals to recommend the therapy as part of the care plan offered following a stroke.

Benefit 7: Improves Cosmetic Muscle Tone

7: Improves Cosmetic Muscle Tone

By causing the muscles to contract, EMS therapy helps to improve cosmetic muscle tone, giving you that all-important sculpted look.

Research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, focused on facial muscle toning in particular.

They took a sample of 108 female participants and gave them an EMS facial device to use for 12 weeks.

80% of respondents reported improved firmness, tone and lift after the trial, with a quantifiable increase in muscle thickness.

Benefit 8: Increases Aerobic Capacity

8: Increases Aerobic Capacity

Fifteen healthy adults leading sedentary lifestyles took part in a study to evaluate how EMS could help to increase aerobic capacity.

Electrical muscle stimulation was chosen as a therapy, as it triggers a cardiovascular exercise response without putting too much pressure on the body.

After 29 EMS sessions, results showed respondents on a six minute treadmill walk could move faster and, on average, go 15 meters further than before!

Benefit 9: Helps with Weight Management

9: Helps with Weight Management

Energy expenditure is so important when it comes to weight loss.

If you’re trying to shed some pounds then it’s responsible for between 60% and 75% of the calories we burn each day.

Published research in 2011 found that electrical muscle stimulation increases energy expenditure, with the percentage increase dependent on the intensity.

Further findings have also shown how EMS can help to reduce abdominal obesity in young women.

Researchers were keen to highlight that the treatment alone won’t lead to significant weight loss, but that it does have value as an additional intervention for weight loss programs.

Benefit 10: Promotes Tissue Healing

10: Promotes Tissue Healing

A study in Sweden sought to understand how EMS could help to heal muscle tissue.

To make their initial investigations, EMS was used on 24 white New Zealand rabbits.

Scientists were fascinated to find that it regenerated muscle fibers across the test subjects.

It was concluded further investigation was needed to see whether the finding could be applied to humans.

Benefit 11: Preserves Muscle Mass

11: Preserves Muscle Mass

For critically ill patients, preserving muscle mass can be extremely difficult while incapacitated, but essential to recovery.

Researchers in Greece worked with 26 critically ill people in intensive care, who received daily EMS treatments on their lower body.

Muscle mass decreased significantly less than previously observed. This has led professionals to recommend EMS as part of the rehabilitation program in intensive care units.

Benefit 12: Stops Pressure Sores

12: Stops Pressure Sores

An article published in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, demonstrates how EMS can prevent pressure sores.

By causing the muscles to contract, it improves blood flow in affected areas and builds muscle mass. These two actions combined can help to stop a pressure sore from forming.

It’s worth mentioning that the sample used in the research was small so further studies were recommended.

Benefit 13: Prevents the Formation of Blood Clots

13: Prevents the Formation of Blood Clots

Another amazing benefit of electrical muscle stimulation is how it can help to prevent blood clots.

The electrical pulses increase circulation and improve blood flow, reducing the chance of clotting.

In fact, EMS is now an FDA-approved thromboprophylactic method.

Benefit 14: Reduces Fluid Build-Up

14: Reduces Fluid Build-Up

With lifestyles becoming increasingly sedentary, fluid build up can be a problem for many people.

EMS has been shown to be effective in reducing fluid build up for those sitting for long periods of time.

By sending the small stimulation signals, your leg muscles are activated in a similar way to how they come alive when you’re moving around!

Benefit 15: Improves Outcomes for Heart Failure Patients

15: Improves Outcomes for Heart Failure Patients

It took just eight weeks for researchers in the UK to determine that EMS had a positive impact on outcomes for heart failure patients.

During the project 35 people with chronic heart failure were tested:

A number of markers that dictate the prognosis for heart failure patients improved over the course of the study.

It has led researchers to call for a larger trial, to fully understand the exact benefits it provides.

IMPORTANT! Manufacturers clearly state that you shouldn’t use an electrical muscle stimulator if you have an implanted device, such as a pacemaker or defibrillator. That’s because the electrical impulses could disturb the functioning of the technology.

Benefit 16: Benefits for an Overactive Bladder

16: Benefits for an Overactive Bladder

There have been promising results for experts looking for ways to help those living with an overactive bladder.

A major review Cochrane Incontinence Group, compared it to other treatment options, and found it to be more effective than pelvic floor muscle training and drug therapy.

Benefit 17: Reduces Snoring

17: Reduces Snoring

If you sleep next to one of the 90 million Americans that snore (or perhaps you’re the culprit!) electrical muscle stimulation could be the answer to your problems.

After just two weeks of intraoral electrical muscle stimulation, incredible results were recorded.

Patients’ snoring scores, determined by their tired bed partner, decreased by an average of 68%.

Benefit 18: Supports People with Osteoarthritis

18: Supports People with Osteoarthritis

A systematic review of seven studies in to EMS and osteoarthritis of the knee, had a positive outcome.

Six of the seven studies reviewed showed improvements in a number of different factors including range of movement, circumference and duration of morning stiffness.

Though sample sizes were small, the results were certainly exciting for people looking for relief from the pain of arthritis.

Benefit 19: Improves Tremors for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

19: Improves Tremors for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

When EMS is applied to the hand using a glove attachment, research showed it was effective in treating tremors.

This was an exciting development in the search for treatment options for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

Benefit 20: Requires No Exertion

20: Requires No Exertion

Electrical muscle stimulation is a good way to work your muscles when you’re unable to take part in any form of exercise.

Many studies have highlighted how it can be beneficial for critically ill patients, helping to preserve muscle mass.

However it’s also great for after a workout, when you’re exhausted and need to rest your body.

Benefit 21: Non-Invasive

21: Non-Invasive

One huge plus of choosing EMS treatment is the fact that it’s non-invasive, so you can try it without any risks.

Though remember you should always speak to a medical professional before commencing your treatment.

Benefit 22: Few or No Side Effects

22: Few or No Side Effects

When used correctly, there are very few side effects. If you do buy an EMS machine, pay close attention to the manufacturer instructions for guidance on that particular product.

There are a few people who shouldn’t use electrical muscle stimulation devices, so you should always check with your doctor before you commence treatment.

Benefit 23: Use at Home

23: Use at Home

If you think electrical muscle stimulation sounds like something you’d like to try, then you can experiment in the comfort of your own home by buying an EMS unit.

Many will come with a range of programs to choose from and different intensities you can play around with.

Benefit 24: Portable

24: Portable

You can literally carry an EMS unit around with you, to pop on when you want to enjoy a treatment.

PowerDot 2.0 turns your smartphone into a controller and comes with wireless electrodes, making it even easier to use on the go.

Benefit 25: Discreet

25: Discreet

You can wear an electrical muscle stimulator without anyone even knowing!

Ab belts for example can be worn discreetly under your clothes, getting to work on your stomach muscles while you carry on with daily life.

Benefit 26: Simple to Use

26: Simple to Use

If you choose to invest in an EMS machine, you’ll quickly find they’re so easy to use.

Although pricier than other units, the Compex SP 8.0 is really straightforward to operate.

Watch the video below to learn more about its features:

YouTube video

As you can see, it has a decent-sized, clear screen that makes it easier to control the settings.

Benefit 27: Affordable

27: Affordable

Getting the benefits of EMS doesn’t need to cost the earth.

You can pick up a simple unit for between $20 and $30. Make sure to shop around and read reviews online to get the best deal.

Benefit 28: Purchased Over the Counter (OTC)

28: Purchased Over the Counter (OTC)

There’s no need to get a prescription for most EMS machines as they can be purchased over the counter and online from a number of different outlets.

However you should always speak to a medical professional, as they aren’t suitable for all types of pain or conditions.

Reap the Benefits of EMS with These Innovative Machines

PowerDot Duo 2.0
PowerDot Duo 2.0
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PlayMakar SPORT
PlayMakar SPORT
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Compex SP 8.0
Compex SP 8.0
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Laura Smith


Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.