This article was written by Daniel Girodano, a physical therapist at Bespoke in New York. Their therapists have the highest levels of expertise through first class education and elite experience. It is their passion that drives them to design the very best and customized treatment programs to optimize your recovery and performance.
“COMPEX is a muscle stimulation AKA neuromuscular electrical stimulation, NMES, unit that works by sending electronic pulses to your motor nerves in order to create muscle contractions. It can be used to improve blood circulation, reduce muscle spasms, decrease pain, decrease edema or swelling, and improve strength by initiating muscle fiber recruitment.
There are many ways that you can use muscle stimulation. During the course of my day, I will use muscle stim on patients during their warm-up, strength, and/or their recovery portion of their treatment.
As a warm-up I will use the Compex PreWarmup setting (7 Hz) in order to help warm up the muscle you are targeting by improving blood circulation, bringing blood and oxygen to the muscle, in order to prep the muscle. For example, if my patient is feeling very tight in his or her calves prior to activity, I will use the Compex pre-warm up on his or her calf muscles as we move through a dynamic warm-up. Using muscle stim in combination with your warm-up will make sure you are ready for sport.
Have you ever had trouble understanding where you be feeling the exercise or having trouble ‘activating’ a muscle? Have you just wanted extra recruitment in the quads during squats? These are all perfect times to use the Compex Resistance Setting. During the workout, I use the Compex Resistance Setting (around 70 Hz with rest intervals) on a specific muscle group in order to recruit more muscle fibers. This will help you understand the contraction better by using the muscle stim to help feel the muscle contract or to help improve strength by making the training more effective and efficient.
Using muscle stim for recovery is probably the most common way of using muscle stim, but why? I tend to use the Compex Active Recovery (9 to 1 Hz intervals) or the Compex Pre Warmup setting in order to improve circulation and bring fresh blood and oxygen to the targeted muscles. By improving circulation, you are facilitating toxin removal and speeding up your recovery
If you have any questions about NMES contact your local physical therapist before application. Avoid placement of electrodes across the chest, anywhere above the neck, or near your genitals — also avoid open wounds, rashes, or infected, red, or inflamed areas More often than not, I personally see people using it completely wrong on their own. Educate yourself prior to using the machine, everyone is different and not everyone can handle the same amount of stim.”
Dan Giordano, PT, DPT, CSCS
Your body contains 650 different muscles that provide your body with the strength, shape and tone to deliver ultimate athletic performance, from explosive dunks to sprinting several meters in a matter of seconds. Building muscle can be something of a mystery. You lift weights, you maintain the right diet, and your muscles grow, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Whether you’re hitting a plateau or just not getting the results you’re looking for, building and maintaining strength and muscle mass sometimes requires that extra push. That’s where muscle stimulators come into the picture. What are muscle stimulators? What does a muscle stimulator do? Read on to learn more.
While you know your muscles contribute to strength, mass and every basic movement and activity that you perform, they are also essential to maintaining good posture and transporting blood and other fluids throughout the body.
The average human body has 650 known, scientifically named muscles, though this number can grow to over 800 if you break down some of the individual muscle groups. These muscles typically make up one-third to one-half of your total body weight. There are three main types of muscles. Visceral muscles are found inside blood vessels and some organs. They are the weakest muscles and work to move things through your system. Visceral muscles in your intestines, for instance, move food through your digestive system. These are involuntary muscles, meaning you can’t consciously control them.
The cardiac muscle is what keeps your heart ticking, allowing it to pump blood throughout your body. Cardiac muscle tissue is also involuntary and controlled by a combination of hormones, brain signals, and its own internal systems. As you can imagine, cardio exercise is good for cardio muscles.
Skeletal muscle is what you know and love. These muscles connect to (usually) two bones across one joint, allowing them to move. Skeletal muscles are the only voluntary muscles. They are responsible for every conscious movement you perform and are susceptible to growth and muscle atrophy based on use or disuse.
How Muscles Grow
Each muscle is actually comprised of hundreds of thin fibers known as myofibrils. When you lift weights, do a pushup or otherwise perform an activity, those fibers contract and retract. If the weight you are trying to lift is heavy, your brain sends signals to your muscles to generate the force necessary to lift the weight up.
If the object is heavier than you’re used to or if you perform the action repeatedly, you essentially expose your muscles to stress, which creates a controlled muscle tear. This explains the soreness after a solid workout. When your myofibrils have torn, the body activates the immune system to repair the damaged fibers, often making them stronger and larger in the process.
Unfortunately for your muscles, the human body is good at adapting. That means that maintaining the same workout routines day after day is good for keeping your muscles in shape, but it won’t do much in terms of building up your muscle mass.
Another component of muscle growth is metabolic stress. Metabolic stress results in the increase of components called metabolites, like lactate, phosphate, and hydrogen. If you’ve felt that burning sensation during or after a workout, you’ve experienced metabolic stress. The accumulation of metabolites essentially causes cells around the muscle fibers to swell. This form of muscle growth, known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, makes your muscles look bigger, but it does not actually contribute to your strength.
The fact is, while we know how muscles tear and rebuild themselves to get bigger, research still isn’t sure of the best, most optimal way to build muscle mass through exercise. That gets even more complicated taking into account the fact that everyone has different metabolic and muscle growth rates. Some people do better with fewer reps and heavier weights, while others might be better with moderate weight and more reps.
The Role of Electric Muscle Stimulators
So what do muscle stimulators do? Do muscle stimulators work? As the label says, these are devices that work to stimulate muscles through electrical impulses. Most electric stimulators comprise of a main device that creates the electric impulse and a series of electrodes consisting of pads that are attached to the skin, near the muscles that you want to stimulate.
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS), sometimes known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), involves delivering controlled pulses of electricity to your motor nerves. These pulses are meant to simulate the same signals sent by your brain to your muscles, thus causing a muscle contraction.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is similar in concept, but this specifically aims toward stimulating nerves, not necessarily muscles. Put another way, EMS and NMES target motor nerves, while TENS targets sensory nerves.
Benefits of Electric Muscle Stimulators
There is a wide range of benefits to electric muscle stimulators as well as applications for athletes and exercise enthusiasts of all experience levels.
Applying electric muscle stimulators during training offers an extra level of workout for your muscles. Electric muscle stimulators can engage a greater percentage of muscle fibers at once, allowing you to get even more out of every rep and set. That’s just plain efficient and ultimately equates to:
- More muscle mass
- Increased strength
- Improved endurance and physical stamina
Electric muscle stimulators also allow you to engage muscles that may not normally receive much attention. That can provide greater physical support and stability.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warming up your muscles before you exercise is essential to more effective workouts. Warming up is also known to reduce the risk of injury during workouts and physical activities in general. Electric muscle stimulators give you an easy and efficient way to warm up your body so that your muscles are plenty ready for the crux of your routine.
Once you have finished with your workout, muscle stimulators offer an easy tool for a cool-down session. Cooling down your body post-workout can keep stiffness and soreness to a minimum and keep the blood flow circulating through your muscles.
On its own, electric muscle stimulation likely will not have a huge impact on weight loss, which generally requires exercises that engage your heart, lungs, and multiple muscle groups, all at once. However, when combined with your existing cardio training regimen, electric muscle stimulation can give you the extra edge to burn more calories and fat, leaving you leaner and stronger.
One of the hardest parts of any workout is the recovery period, but it’s also necessary to building your muscle fibers back up. Electric muscle stimulation can help to facilitate the recovery process. The gentle stimulation can help to bring blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles while expediting the flushing away of toxins. All of that equates to faster recovery. The process may also help to release endorphins, which can help to dull any soreness or pain.
Proponents also suggest that EMS works via the gate control theory, which states that the non-painful input from the muscle stimulator can prevent pain sensations from traveling to your central nervous system. That may essentially keep any muscle pain or soreness at bay for an easier recovery process.
Using Your Electric Muscle Stimulator
Using a muscle stimulator is generally easy. Simply apply the adhesive pads and follow the instructions for the most optimal settings. Compex muscle stimulators offer a wide range of unique programs for every step of your workout. Beginners should start with the lowest, easiest settings until they get used to the system.
What are muscle stimulators used for? Muscle stimulators are by no means a replacement for traditional workouts or getting in a “workout” while you’re lounging on the couch. They are a complement and enhancement to your existing training and exercise routines, helping to support your recovery while building muscle strength, stamina and speed. Shop through our Compex muscle stimulators and see the results for yourself.
First, let’s ask the question, what is a muscle stimulator? While once reserved for rehabilitation and physical theory, electric muscle stimulators have become more widely used by professional athletes and amateur enthusiasts alike, offering a new tool to enhance workouts and deliver greater physical performance. Of course, considering the sheer amount of fad diets, health trends, and fitness gimmicks, some healthy suspicion is appropriate. Do muscle stimulators really work? Read on to learn more.
How Your Muscles Work and Grow
While your body is also home to cardiac and smooth muscles, skeletal muscles are what you care about. These are the muscles connected to your bones that help you lift, push, pull and perform all of the other movements in your everyday life. Skeletal muscles are the muscles that you can consciously control.
Contraction is the basic movement of any skeletal muscle. That contraction starts with a signal sent from your brain to motor nerves that tell your muscles to contract. For example, performing a basic curl begins with the brain signaling the nerves in your bicep to contract.
You get the basics of how a muscle works, but how do muscles grow? Muscles are actually comprised of hundreds of thin fibers known as myofibrils. Working out causes those myofibrils to expand and contract. Lifting something heavier than you’re used to or otherwise putting your muscles through intense exercise creates enough physical stress in your myofibrils to actually damage and tear them. That’s why your muscles feel sore after a workout.
Your immune system notices that damage and begins the process of repairing and rebuilding those fibers. However, instead of bringing those fibers back the same as they were, muscle fibers get fused together, forming new protein strands that also happen to be thicker, denser, and higher in number. That leaves you with increased mass, improved tone, and a general increase in muscle strength.
Research has yet to know the most optimal way to build muscle, and considering we all have different metabolic rates and fitness needs,
Do Muscle Stimulators Work?
How do you use a muscle stimulator, and are they effective? Muscle stimulators comprise of electric muscle stimulation, also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation, works off all the same principles that go into basic muscle movement. EMS devices generally comprise a machine that generates electrical impulses and a series of electrodes that attach to your skin. The electric impulses mimic the same signals that your brain sends to your motor nerves, causing your muscles to contract. Settings on the muscle stimulator allow you to control the intensity of these electric pulses, which affects the level of muscle contraction.
So electric muscle stimulators are at least effective in getting your muscles to contract, but can they do more than that to improve your fitness? In a meta-review, researchers looked at 89 different trials related to the use of electric muscle stimulators and their effects on trained and elite athletes. The results of the study found that EMS was resoundingly effective in enhancing physical performance parameters, which included improvements in:
- Maximum strength
- Speed strength
- Vertical jump height
- Sprint times
Another study looked at the effects of electric muscle stimulation on jump height in teenage athletes. Over an eight-week training program that combined EMS with plyometric exercises, the teen athletes showed statistically significant improvements in vertical jumping abilities.
This all shows that electric muscle stimulators do really work. It’s also important to understand that the best results come when muscle stimulators are used in conjunction with existing workout routines and training regimens. While some studies do show that electric muscle stimulation can help with weight loss when used on its own, the effects are limited and tend to taper off. Muscle stimulators on their own have an isolated effect compared to lifting weights, running laps, or performing any other full-body workout that involves strengthening the heart, lungs, and multiple muscle groups.
How Muscle Stimulators Can Help You
Electric muscle stimulation benefits you when used in conjunction with an existing workout. But, how can the treatment specifically help you?
Enhanced Muscles and Strength
Adding electric stimulation to your training engages a higher percentage of muscle fibers, essentially maximizing your muscle effort to get the most out of every single repetition and movement. That ultimately equates to a more efficient, well-balanced workout.
Your skeletal muscles are comprised of two different types of fibers. Type 1 is known as slow-twitch fibers. These are more efficient at using oxygen to generate fuel for steady, extended muscle movements and can go for much longer without fatigue. This makes slow-twitch fibers much more attuned for extended endurance and stamina. Type 2 fibers are known as fast-twitch fibers. These tend to fatigue more quickly, but fast-twitch fibers are capable of generating greater force and firing more rapidly, equating to greater power and explosive muscle strength.
Training these different muscle fiber types isn’t always easy or particularly well understood. Higher reps and exercises requiring slower movements can target slow-twitch muscles, while fast-twitch muscles thrive on fast movements and power exercises. However, many electric muscle stimulators, like those from Compex, work out both types of muscle fibers to give you the best of both worlds: muscular endurance and explosive power.
As mentioned, EMS on its own generally won’t have an extended effect on weight. In terms of physical activity, weight loss and maintenance requires cardio and full-body workouts. Muscle stimulators are far too isolated on their own to have a huge effect on calories, but incorporating EMS into your training can put you over the edge and add an extra level of intensity to burn calories and reduce fat.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warming up before a workout has been shown to not only prepare your muscles for a better workout but also reduces the risk of injury. A proper workout gets the blood flowing to the muscles, increases your heart rate, and loosens up the joints. With an electric muscle stimulator, you can warm up more efficiently and optimally, allowing you to prepare your body for your workout.
Cooling down following your workout is just as important. Going straight from working out to resting is like slamming the brakes in your car. Instead, you want to gently and gradually bring your body back down. This reduces your heart rate, decreases muscle spasms and cramping, and removes the buildup of lactic acid and other waste products in the muscles. Cooldowns can also reduce muscle soreness and support recovery. A muscle stimulator can provide an easy and effective means of cooling your body down after your exercise routine.
The hardest part of building muscle is the recovery period. While it’s a necessary step in rebuilding your muscle fibers to grow bigger and better, it also involves a lot of downtime. Electric muscle stimulators can speed up your muscle recovery by supporting greater blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to your muscles while encouraging the flushing of toxins that contribute to soreness and cramping.
EMS can also help to keep pain from muscle soreness down, which won’t necessarily speed up recovery, but it can make getting through your day-to-day a lot easier. Part of this comes from muscle stimulators encouraging the release of endorphins, which make you feel good and dampen pain. Muscle stimulators may also relieve pain through the gate control theory. This states that the electric pulses from a muscle stimulator may actually interrupt the pain signals sent to your brain.
Do muscle stimulators really work? Many studies and anecdotes show that electric muscle stimulators are effective in strengthening and improving physical performance at all skill levels, but it’s important to understand that EMS shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a solid workout. Combine your training with a muscle stimulator for the best results. If you want to see for yourself, take a look through the Compex store to find the right muscle stimulator for your needs.
Improving your strength, muscle mass, and endurance often comes down to how hard you grind and the nutrition you put in your body. For years, athletes of all skill levels and backgrounds have been leveraging one tool to give them the edge in improving muscular tone, size, and strength: electric muscle stimulators. They are easy to use and support more efficient workouts. Learn more about how to use electronic muscle stimulator devices below.
How Electric Muscle Stimulators Work
From professional ballers to at-home yoga enthusiasts, electric muscle stimulators help to build muscle and make training sessions much more efficient and effective. If you are asking, what is a muscle stimulator, and how does it work? Well, the design of electric muscle stimulators is deceptively simple. Most muscle stimulators comprise a device that sends electric pulses through a series of wires into electrodes. These electrodes are attached to your skin, transmitting the electric pulse directly to your motor nerves. The mechanics mimic the way that your brain sends signals to your muscles, which cause the muscles to contract, resulting in muscle flex and movement.
On their own, electric muscle stimulators have received mixed results, but when combined with existing training regimens, these devices have offered positive results. In a fairly comprehensive meta-study, researchers looked at 89 trials involving electric muscle stimulators in trained and elite athletes. Study periods ranging from three to six weeks showed significant gains and improvements in several parameters, including:
- Maximum strength
- Speed strength
- Sprint times
- Vertical jump height
What’s interesting is that, despite their already high level of fitness, these trained, elite athletes improved their strength to the same degree as untrained subjects used in the control group.
How to Use Electric Muscle Stimulators
The best part about electric muscle stimulators, aside from their proven effects, is how easy they are to use. Start by attaching the pads to the muscle or muscle group that you want to target. For example, if you are working on your biceps, attach the electrodes to your bicep. Use our electrode placement guides to determine where exactly you should be attaching each electrode. Proper pad placement will provide the best results.
From there, select your training program of choice via the device’s settings. These can vary but should usually comprise some combination of:
- Active recovery
Workout with the device until the training program finishes. If you find the settings too intense, adjust the levels. Most beginners should start with the lowest settings. Remember that, while the muscle stimulator should provide an extra level to your workout, it shouldn’t be actively painful or cause discomfort.
Electric muscle stimulators are not meant as a replacement for a workout, meaning that you should be incorporating the muscle stimulators into your existing training routine.
Most experts also recommend not using muscle stimulators for extended periods of time. Everyone has their own limits for how long the muscle contractions occur. Furthermore, using an electric muscle stimulator too long and too often can make your muscles grow accustomed to them, resulting in plateaus.
What Muscle Stimulators Can Be Used For
Muscle stimulators benefits you because they offer incredibly adaptive use that extends through every step of your workout.
A proper warm-up before your workout is essential to getting your body ready and has been shown to reduce injury. Unfortunately, too many fitness enthusiasts leap right into exercise without warming up beforehand. With an electric muscle stimulator, warming up is easy and efficient. It can prepare your muscles, get your heart rate up, and keep the blood circulation flowing through your body for the workout to come.
Efficient Training for Better Gains
Adding electric muscle stimulators into your workouts engages a higher percentage of muscle fibers, optimizing your workout so that you get the most out of every single repetition. Muscle stimulators can also help you exercise both types of muscle fibers, slow-twitch and fast-twitch.
Slow-twitch fibers, also known as type 1 fibers, are better at using oxygen for fuel, allowing for steadier muscle contractions over a longer period of time. Physically, that equates to muscles with greater endurance.
Fast-twitch fibers, or type 2 fibers, are not as efficient with how they use fuel, so they tend to fatigue more easily. However, they fire more rapidly and generally have more power than their slow-twitch counterparts. That makes them better suited to strength and explosiveness.
While certain people may require one over the other—marathon runners, for instance, benefit more from slow-twitch fibers—most athletes could use a good balance of both. Some evidence suggests that muscles will switch between the two types based on training, though research still isn’t sure how this happens. However, working out with a muscle stimulator may engage both muscle fiber types, allowing for a more balanced workout.
Similar to warming up before a workout, cool down once you have finished training. This can play an important role in your fitness and muscle recovery. Going from intense training straight to a resting phase can be jarring for your system. A cool-down period allows your breathing and heart rate to return to normal while preventing blood and toxins from pooling up in your muscles. It’s ultimately a more pleasant, comfortable way for your heart and muscles to ease out of a training session. Muscle stimulators offer a gentle cool-down that can keep your muscles from cramping or stiffening.
Recovery is a necessary step in training. It allows your body to rebuild and repair any damage to muscles, ultimately contributing to their mass, density, and strength. While everyone can benefit from the occasional passive recovery, most athletes opt for active recovery, which simply involves low-intensity exercise.
Active recovery encourages blood flow to the muscles and joints and can help to reduce the buildup of lactic acid, the compound responsible for causing muscle soreness and fatigue. Active recovery also keeps up your heart rate, ensuring that you don’t lag on your conditioning.
Using a muscle stimulator during your active recovery period can speed up the process. Integrated with active recovery exercises, EMS can bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while promoting the flush of toxins.
Some muscle stimulators also incorporate TENS systems. While it may seem similar to electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is designed to target sensory nerves and is more often associated with physical therapy and rehabilitation. EMS targets motor nerves, which activate muscle contraction. TENS targets sensory nerves, which determine how something physically feels. TENS programs can help provide pain relief by triggering the release of endorphins, your natural feel-good chemical.
TENS programs may also dampen pain via the gate control theory. When you experience pain, a signal gets sent to your brain to denote the sensation. However, the electric pulses from a TENS program can actively interrupt these signals from ever reaching your brain, blocking that pain altogether.
While dampening pain won’t make your muscles heal any faster, it can help during your recovery periods by allowing you to go through your day without focusing so much on muscle soreness and chronic pain.
Electric muscle stimulators offer benefits for athletes and physical fitness enthusiasts of all skills, sports, and experience levels. While they can be intimidating to the uninitiated, learning how to use electronic muscle stimulator devices is actually easy and opens up a whole new world of efficient training sessions and improvements to physical performance. If you are curious and want to try a muscle stimulator for yourself, take a look through the Compex store for a wide range of devices perfectly suited for you.
While electrical muscle stimulation was more commonly used in physical therapy and rehabilitation, it has quickly become a trade secret among elite athletes, bodybuilders, and exercise enthusiasts of all skill and experience levels. Whether you have hit a plateau or just want to add an extra level of enhancement to your workouts, electric muscle stimulators offer a wide range of benefits for your muscles and general health and well-being. Learn more about some of the benefits of muscle stimulator device below.
Improving Your Strength and Muscles
Unsurprisingly, one of the main benefits of muscle stimulator devices is their effect on your strength and muscles. Electrical muscle stimulation, sometimes referred to as neuromuscular electrical stimulation, works just the way the label says it does. The muscle stimulator device sends an electrical pulse through a series of wires into electrodes, usually comprising pads attached to your skin.
Contraction is the basic movement of any skeletal muscle. The trigger for that contraction is an electrical impulse, so for instance, when you think about moving your arm via your bicep, your brain sends electrical signals through the motor nerves in your bicep, making it contract. The amount that the muscle contracts depends on the strength of the signal.
Electric muscle stimulators mimic this exact same action. The electric pulses from a muscle stimulator engage your motor nerves and create muscle contractions. Used in conjunction with your existing workout, that means a more intensive and optimal workout. Muscle stimulators can engage a larger percentage of muscle fibers, allowing you to get the most out of every single action you perform. That equates to more efficient workouts and bigger, stronger, and denser muscle mass.
Certain muscle stimulators, including Compex products, go a step further by targeting the two different types of muscle fibers. Skeletal muscle comprises two types of muscle fibers. Fast-twitch fibers contract faster, have a higher anaerobic capacity, and can develop greater force. These fibers can impact your general strength, power, and explosiveness. Slow-twitch fibers develop force more slowly, but they also have a higher aerobic capacity and can maintain muscle contractions for longer periods of time. These have more of an effect on your muscles’ endurance and stamina.
Working out both types of muscle fibers with a typical workout isn’t always feasible, but by including a muscle stimulator, working on both fast- and slow-twitch fibers is much easier. That gives you a more efficient training regimen or workout session, which equates to more balanced fitness and muscles that are not only strong but also ready for whatever gets thrown at them.
The general idea of weight loss comes down to using up more calories than you take in. That usually means working out more, dieting, or some combination of the two. In terms of physical activity, weight loss usually requires a full-body workout that engages your heart, lungs and several different muscle groups. That means that an electric muscle stimulator on its own likely won’t have enough of an impact on your calories to affect the numbers on your scale.
However, using an electric muscle stimulator with your current exercise or training routine is a different story. The extra bit of muscle engagement provided by the electric muscle stimulator could be enough to give you an edge in burning fat and calories.
The last thing you want is to get injured during a training session, which is why warming up beforehand is so important. A gentle warm-up before your workout gets your heart pumping and blood flowing while loosening up your joints, all of which ensure proper biomechanical function to reduce the risk of injury. Whether you’re low on time or in need of more efficiency, electric muscle stimulators can provide dynamic warm-ups that prepare your muscles for a more intense workout.
Along with warming you up before your workout, electric muscle stimulators help with the cool down process at the end of your workout. Cooldowns are just as important as warming up. Going straight from an intense workout to the showers isn’t good for you or your body. Gradually cooling your body down with a low-intensity exercise helps to bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal and removes lactic acid and other toxins from your muscles. A cool-down period can also help to reduce stiffness and soreness and prevents post-workout muscle spasms or cramps, all while preparing your muscles for your next workout. This also factors into improved recovery.
Speaking of, an electric muscle stimulator benefits you with a faster recovery from workouts. Muscle recovery is an essential part of building up your strength and increasing your muscle mass. Recovery time allows your body to repair and rebuild those torn muscle fibers and turn them into harder, denser and bigger muscles. Unfortunately, that usually also means a lot of downtime while your body’s immune system performs the necessary maintenance and repairs.
Electric stimulators work to enhance blood flow in your muscles, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients into every muscle fiber while flushing away harmful toxins contributing to muscle soreness.
Using an electric muscle stimulator can also keep any existing muscle soreness down and provide relief. Granted, alleviating pain doesn’t necessarily make your muscles recover faster, but it can help you get through your day and prevents the distraction while you’re working on other parts of your game. The electric pulses can stimulate the production and release of endorphins. These feel-good chemicals are naturally produced by your nervous system and can provide pain relief, boost your happiness, or in this case, dampen muscle soreness.
Muscle stimulators can also help you deal with sore, cramping muscles through the gate control theory. Essentially, when your muscles hurt, they send pain signals through the nerves into your brain. The electric impulses coming from the muscle stimulator actively interrupt the pain signals from reaching your brain, which can soothe soreness and keep it from distracting you for the rest of your day.
Now that you know the benefits of muscle stimulator devices, it’s time to use one. The process is simple enough. Just apply the electrodes to the muscles that could use an extra boost during your workout and apply the necessary settings on the device.
If you’re a beginner, start with the lowest setting. Going too high, too suddenly can be uncomfortable, painful and have the opposite effect of a good workout. Make sure you also read the label. There are parts of the body that muscle stimulators should not be attached to, and improper application can stimulate muscles in a dangerous way, like pulling joints in ways that they shouldn’t be pulled. You should consult your doctor or avoid using muscle stimulators if you wear a pacemaker, have a heart condition or are pregnant.
Above all, it’s important to understand that muscle stimulators are not meant as replacements for a workout. They shouldn’t be used passively. Instead, they’re a way to enhance your existing workouts and provide an extra edge for maximum efficiency.
Muscle stimulators offer a wide range of benefits, whether you are a pro-baller or a yoga enthusiast. From improving muscle strength and tone to providing more efficient, enjoyable and energetic workouts, the benefits of muscle stimulator machines know no bounds. Take a look through the Compex store for electric muscle stimulators suitable for all skill levels and start improving your physical performance today.
So, you’re thinking about doing the Open. What’s stopping you from doing it?
Five weeks of challenging workouts to test you both mentally and physically is not an easy feat. While many competitors will spend hours in the gym tiring themselves out daily and trying different training routines to improve their performance, you can do the same without spending hours in the gym or fatiguing your muscles. So, what’s the best way to be ready for the Open?
Brooke Wells, CrossFit® and Compex® Athlete, understands the demands your body goes under when competing during the Open and provides a little insight to help you be ready for the grueling few weeks, “The biggest thing is to treat the Open as if it were a regular training day! Don’t do anything different like try a new crazy pre-workout or warm up extra, extra long. Stay in your typical routine, and don’t freak or stress out about it,” she adds, “Trust your training and go as hard as you can. Make sure you are recovered before, have a good meal, get sleep, and proper recovery—like using a Compex® device).”
When Compex® electric muscle stimulation is added to your workouts, it helps maximize your muscular effort by engaging a greater percentage of muscle fibers. Compex® devices target both Type 1 slow twitch muscle fibers which impact endurance and Type 2 fast twitch muscle fibers which impact power and explosiveness. Using a Compex® EMS device can help take your performance to the next level. Here’s how to be ready for the Open with the assistance of one of our EMS devices.
Before you begin you the Open workout, it’s essential to warm up your muscles. Using our pre-designed programs can help make your time more efficient in the gym. A dynamic warm-up helps loosen muscles and gets them ready for rigorous activity, which may help to prevent injury during training or competition.
The Performance™, Sport Elite™, and Wireless Muscle Stimulator™ all offer the Pre-Warm Up program which produces a muscle twitch and runs at a low frequency while increasing local blood flow, warming the muscle tissue, and helping to improve reaction of the muscles prior to a workout or competition.
The Sport Elite™ and Wireless Muscle Stimulators™ offer Potentiation which is recommended before a workout or competition, especially for sports requiring speed and velocity. Applied briefly just before the beginning of a competition, it offers immediate, well-potentiated muscle fibers and helping to optimize performance.
So, before you tackle the challenge, turn on the Dynamic Warm-up setting to get ready to compete.
One advantage that you’ll have if you use the EMS device is that you can help speed up your recovery before the next workout, whether you want to redo the week’s challenge or you’re ready to take on the next one at The Open.
Compex® EMS devices offer multiple post-workout programs to assist in your recovery. The variety of recovery programs are designed to bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles to help flush lactic acid, aiding you to recover faster.
After your workout, place the electrodes on the muscle area you'd like to target. Select your program and let Compex® help you get stronger and fitter faster than you would with your regular routine.
The Edge™, Performance™, Sport Elite™ and Wireless Muscle Stimulator™ offer the Active Recovery program which increases local blood flow, leading to a faster reduction of lactic acid than mere rest, promotes muscle relaxation and helps enable faster recovery. These devices also offer TENS which can be used to temporarily alleviate localized pain.
The Sport Elite™ and Wireless Muscle Stimulator™ devices offer Recovery Plus which runs at a lower frequency for inducing gentle muscle twitches, increasing local blood flow, generating endorphins (the body's natural analgesic) and promoting muscle relaxation when muscles are fatigued after a vigorous workout or competition. They also offer Massage, which runs at the lowest frequency possible to help relax muscles that are fatigued after a workout or competition.
While other competitors may take breaks, stretch or try the workout before they take on the Open workouts, you can allow your body to rest while still helping your muscles improve and strengthen by using the warm-up and recovery programs. Good luck during the Open!
Shop our Compex® Muscle Stimulators
The contents of this blog were independently prepared, and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the views of any other party. Individual results may vary depending on a variety of patient-specific attributes and related factors.
CrossFit® is registered trademark of CrossFit®, Inc.
Brooke Wells is a Compex® Sponsored Athlete.
Compex®, the muscle specialist, is always looking to support athletes in their quest for well-being, performance or even exceeding training objectives.
As a global leader for more than 30 years in muscle stim technology, Compex® has dedicated hours and energy to make sure health care professionals, athletes, and individuals have the essential technology and support needed to help relieve muscle pain and improve strength. Our FDA-cleared products are beneficial for muscle recovery, injury prevention, pain management, and intense training programs. We offer the best in Electric Muscle Stimulators (EMS), Electrodes, and EMS Accessories.
Electrostimulation allows you to naturally reap the benefits of improved stamina, quick recovery, as well as increased blood circulation, strength, and muscle volume. It's a great complement to any existing sports training regimen. From seasoned professionals to weekend warriors, there are many benefits that can be found adding FDA-cleared Compex® muscle stim devices into any training regimen.
Compex® Electric Muscle Stimulators
The technology of Compex®, drawn from its double roots — Swiss quality and medical requirement — is light, portable and easy to use. Whether used for training and muscle strength or relaxation and pain relief, Compex® FDA-cleared EMS devices are an essential go-to training tool as a complement to or occasionally to replace voluntary physical activity.
With many pre-designed program options, the Compex® FDA-cleared devices are meant to help athletes and active individuals reach their fullest potential, fast and effectively.
FDA-cleared medical devices are ones that FDA has determined to be substantially equivalent to (similar) another legally marketed device. A premarket notification submission is referred to as a 510(k) and must be submitted to FDA to review and provide clearance.
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Individual results may vary. Neither DJO Global, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries dispense medical advice. The contents of this blog do not constitute medical, legal, or any other type of professional advice. Rather, please consult your healthcare professional for information on the courses of treatment, if any, which may be appropriate for you.
The preset Resistance program is the most “bang for your buck” among the training programs. By activating both Type 1 and Type 2 muscle fiber types, you can help to maximize the muscle contraction and get the greatest strength gains. Although this program can be used as a stand-alone routine (yes, even while you sit on the couch!) it may be best utilized in conjunction with some body weight exercises such as squats, push-ups, or calf raises depending on what you want to train. By taking your body through range of motion during each contraction, you’ll get even more benefit of the program to help increase your squat, vertical jump, and increase muscle mass!
Active Recovery Program
The moments immediately following a tough workout can be some of the most critical for recovery in a number of ways. Using the Active Recovery program within thirty minutes of your workout can help reduce lactic buildup, muscle soreness and fatigue so that you’re better prepared for the next session. By starting at a higher frequency and gradually tapering down, this program can be used as an effective cool down method.
Recovery Plus Program
In the hours and days following a workout, using the Recovery Plus program will have the most benefit to ensuring your preparedness for the next session. Using a low frequency pulse, this program helps to increase local blood flow back to the muscle tissue to help keep it mobile and fight muscle soreness. A perfect rest day choice, stick on your electrodes for a relaxing weekend as you plan out your next week in how to continue towards your goals.
We know you’re ready to put in work this New Year and Compex is here to help meet your fitness goals. Train, recover and PR with Compex into 2018!
The most common use for an electric stimulation devices is in recovery, and rightfully so. An NMES device such as Compex can be used to decrease recovery time by using involuntary muscle contractions and controlled levels of electric pulses to improve blood flow, reduce muscle soreness and flush away lactic build up. But if you turn on a Compex device, there are more recovery programs than just one and knowing how to choose the correct program will further enhance the benefit of using a Compex device.
So which program should you choose?
This program is also known as the Training Recovery program in the wireless device. This program would be best used immediately post workout and studies have shown that immediate recovery markers are improved by 4.5x when using a Compex device versus a voluntary cool down. Although the program will run for 20 minutes, just 6 minutes of use is enough to be effective in flushing out lactic build up and recovering from “the pump.” This program would be very beneficial in a competition setting or between back-to-back training sessions or events.
This program is also known as Competition Recovery in the wireless device. This program would be best utilized in the hours or days following a physical effort or on “rest day” to reduce muscle soreness or stiffness. This program should not, however, be used during competition.
This program is also known as Muscle Relaxation in the wireless device. This program is a low-frequency electric pulse that will help to relax tight muscles and help restore mobility with increased blood flow and movement. Like the Recovery Plus, this program should not be used during competition.
Choosing the correct program can help to amplify the efficiency of your recovery between training and competition events. Better recovery equates to higher levels of performance and decreased feelings of fatigue or soreness and can help an athlete advance to the next levels of their potential.
Check out the review in Men's Health and Fitness on the Sport Elite and Wireless Device by Brittany Smith. Complete article here http://www.mensfitness.com/life/gearandtech/fitness-test-compex-muscle-stim-devices
YOU CAN ZAP your muscles—literally send an electric current down to nerve fibers, fire your motor neurons, and stimulate a strong muscle contraction. It's called NMES, neuro-muscular electrical nerve stimulation; more specifically, we're talking about two NMES stimulators from Compex, a company that’s been in the business of electrotherapy for over 20 years. So why should you want to try it out? For one, NMES can help you heal quicker if you're coming back from an injury. But, it's not just for guys who have been sidelined. It can also help you recover faster after a brutal WOD and even boost your performance in workouts by better activating bodyparts.
And it doesn't hurt—aside from some alien tingling sensation you quickly get used to. I can attest to this; I tested both the Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator Kit and the Compex Wireless USA Muscle Stimulator Kit.
But before you read what I thought, check out everything you need to know about personal NMES devices first.
What Compex Devices Do
A NMES electrotherapy at-home device mimics the electrical pulses your brain fires to contract muscles, only it lights up the entire length of your motor neuron so you get a complete contraction—as in 100% of your muscle contracts. The average Joe can contract anywhere from 25-40% of a muscle, whereas more muscular dudes (think: Phil Heath—who actively uses Compex) can get about 65%, says Brandon Hearn, the senior director at Compex & Consumer Business Development.
Compex is approved for a multitude of goals, like increasing your muscle size, strength, and density, boosting VO2 max, honing greater explosive strength, and faster muscle recovery. And clinical studies prove athletes can increase muscle size, strength, and endurance within a few weeks when combining Compex electric muscle stim in a regimen; it's also been shown to flush lactic acid out of muscles faster, getting you back on your feet and giving you a greater capacity to perform than using traditional methods or nothing at all.
Why Athletes Use Compex
High-profile athletes like Phil Heath use the device to booststrength gains. "If you want to lift more, you need to get the right muscles firing," Hearn says.
Hearn's used a device on CrossFit Games athlete Lauren Fisher when her foot was bound in a cast, due to an ankle injury. They cut a small hole in her cast in order to place an electrode to apply electrotherapy. "It prevents atrophy," Hearn explains. Lebron Jamesand players from the San Diego Padres are just a few more of Compex's top-tier clientele, as is Mat Fraser, 2016 CrossFit Games Champion and reigning “Fittest Man on Earth."
“Compex is a big part of my training,” Fraser says. “It’s an easy-to-use tool for activation, recovery, and strength. I use the strength cycles quite frequently—especially on my quads—and pre- and post-workout to help recovery on a nagging ankle injury.”
The Difference Between Devices
The Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator Kit has 9 pre-set programs (so no guess work!): Endurance is designed to build your resistance to long-duration aerobic fatigue by promoting the growthof more slow-twitch muscle fibers over a span of 45 minutes. Resistance encompasses endurance and strength, activating the growth of both slow- and fast-twitch fibers for running and lifting in just 12 minutes. Strength boosts pure muscle strength more efficiently than weight lifting alone and reduces your risk of muscleand tendon injuries in 20+ minutes. Explosive Strength can bolster your vertical leap by developing greater short bursts of powerwithout the strain of plyometrics; you'll work in very brief durations, completing exercises like jumps, sprints, and throws in this program. Potentiation warms up your muscles, getting them up to their max working potential, without the usual fatigue of a warmup. ActiveRecovery helps diminish soreness and relaxes your muscles post-workout. Recovery Plus flushes lactic acid from your muscles in just 7 minutes, Hearn says; this program doesn't actually contract your muscles, but increases blood flow, perfect after competitions, races, and vigorous routines. Pre-Warmup doesn't contract your muscles either; it runs a current at a certain frequency designed to oxygenate muscles before a workout and increase blood flow. Massageimproves the movement of blood and oxygen through your blood vessels, too.
The Compex Wireless USA has all the same beneficial programs as the Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator. The only difference is it's portable. By going wire-free, you can attach the pods to the electrode pads, and go through your workout without fear of yanking anything out of place.
Ease of Use
You don't have to have a certificate in physical therapy, but you definitely need to read the instructions and electrode placement guide for the best results. The electrode pads are sticky and you don't want to handle the side you'll place skin-down too much. Clean your skin with soap and water (sweat, oil, and lotion break down the pads' stickiness, but they'll typically last 15-30 uses). Then, follow the placement guide and apply the pads.
Now, for the Sport Elite, you'll snap the electrodes right on the pads, making sure the red cable (positive electrode) is on the pad over the "motor point of the muscle" and the black cable (negative electrode) is placed on the "muscle trajectory." Don't worry. This sounds complicated, like you're jumping a car, but everything is color-coded and spelled out on the online manual.
For the Wireless, you connect the pods onto the pads by sliding them onto the metal applicators; they'll snap right into place.
The biggest difference you'll notice between the two is in the control unit. The Wireless device is superior in its usability. The LED screen lights up when you power on, giving way to the pre-made settings. Choosing which setting you want, the area of your bodyyou're working, and adjusting the intensity of the resistance is intuitive and seamless. The Sport Elite takes a bit longer to get used to. Sometimes you'll power the device off when you're trying to get a program started, so it takes some putzing around to get used to the controls.
When you're done, you just snap or slide the electrodes off, and stick the pads back on their plastic for storage. The Wireless electrodes fit into their own docking unit.
When I met with Hearn, I tested the Wireless USA unit. With electrodes in place on our biceps, we went through the Resistanceprogram together. Now, to reach a significant percentage of working fibers, you need to hit a minimum intensity of 30 mAmp (the red zone, about 250 mAmp, will deliver surprising soreness). Sitting in chairs with hands resting on our thighs, palms facing up, Hearn started the workout, using resistance level 3. The current is strong; Hearn describes it as a biting sensation—and that's no joke. Your arms will probably jerk uncontrollably at first in response to the buzzing energy coursing through your body. (Mine did.) These contractions should be powerful, but you don't want them to be intolerable or overpowering.
From here, the program begins. You only need about 6-10 contraction phases for a solid strength and performance workout, Hearn says. During the stronger "work" contractions, we completed bodyweight arm curls. During the "rest" phases, I relaxed my armsand rested my hands on my thighs; the intensity automatically drops to 50 percent during each rest phase to promote blood flow and improve recovery rate. Once the work phase begins again, Hearn raised the stimulation energy to recruit a higher number of musclefibers. The idea is to keep raising the intensity after each bout. FYI, the ceiling is 999 mAmp on power.
The workout only lasted a few minutes. "In two days, your biceps will be more sore than you've ever felt before," Hearn says. He wasn't kidding. The next day, a significant amount of soreness was sinking in; by day 2 I had a hard time extending my arms out straight. It's like the first time you ever did a significant lifting session, or tried a brand new program for the first time.
I was equally as impressed during the Massage and Active Recoveryprograms, too.
How to Use During a Workout/Everyday Life
Electrical stim devices can be used every day. Use them to prime your muscles during a warmup and activate muscles that have become dormant from sitting all day before a heavy lifting session. If you want to work out with a stim device, you can use it 3 days per week per muscle group, Hearn says.
"Traditionally you'd use a device like this two hours after training—but before bed is ideal," says Drew Little, C.S.C.S., a performance specialist at Michael Johnson Performance, an elite training facility in McKinney, Texas. That's because men have a big spike in growth hormone and testosterone at night, which helps burn off fat and build more muscle. "Shower, so your skin is clean for the electrodes, muscles are warm, and your blood vessels are open, as this will lower the resistance to the electric current, make for a cleaner contraction, and provide better recovery and stimulation," Little explains. Now, if you did a high-intensity sprintor heavy squat, you don't want to complete a program on a device thats just as intensive. "Post-workout, use programs that have a short duration of work and long periods of rest—like a 1:4 or 1:5 work to rest tatio—compared to ones that are 1:1," he suggests. The concentric contraction won’t fatigue your muscles, because it pumps blood in, then releases, which is what your heartdoes.
You can also use a device in tandem with resistance training. On legday, before your workout, set the electrodes on your quads or glutes. Complete 6-8 (max) contraction cycles on a resistance level 3 or 5; squat or lunge for 8 seconds on, 4 second off. Then complete the remainder of your leg workout. After, throw on the Recovery Plus program for about 7 minutes to clear lactic acid. Or, use a device after your workout. Do your typical leg day routine. Next, apply Compex first to your quads, and choose resistance, strength, or explosive strength. Turn the intensity up with each contraction, and then do the same for hamstrings.
Want bigger calves? Put a bar on your back and do calf raises with the electrodes in the proper place; that's more than enough to blast your weaknesses.
If you're a baseball player, playing in a rec league with some buddies or competing competitively, use the Massage or Pre-Warmup programs to keep your muscles ready to go during breaks.
If you're traveling, use the Massage or Pre-Warmup programs tokeep oxygen flowing through your legs on a flight.
Strain something during your WOD? Pop on the electrodes with ice or stim and complete Massage or Active Recovery.
*You don't want to use a device like Compex on the resistance setting every day. To periodize your training, Little suggests doing 10-15 treatments as a strength stimulus if you lift heavy weight (that's 3-4 weeks). Then give your body about a month break, only using the device for recovery. This will revert your body back to its natural tendency, so you can progress and further gains the next time you use a resistance program again.
If you're serious about your overall fitness and recovery, this is a sound investment. The Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator Kit is $649.99 and the Compex Wireless USA Muscle Stimulator Kit is $1,149.99. For the ease of use and added mobility, opt for the Wireless.