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  1. Reach Your CrossFit Goals with Compex

    CrossFitJump

    Whether you’re a die-hard or more of an enthusiast, CrossFit is not for the faint of heart. Intensity is the name of the game and the goal is to push your body as far as it can go; you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of!

    With any intense workout program, proper form, training and conditioning is crucial to achieving results and preventing injury. First and foremost, make sure your CrossFit program, gym, and coach are the right fit for you.

    Once you’ve solidified a good workout / rest routine and dialed in your diet it might be time to consider taking your training to the next level with Compex electric muscle stimulator. Compex is not only designed to help you recover, but also to build strength; strength you can use to lift more, to jump higher and to exceed your fitness goals.

    If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Here is how Compex can help you with CrossFit.

    Recruiting More Muscle

    Compex can help you to build strength by recruiting more muscle but how? What does that mean exactly?

    Say you are looking to increase the amount of weight you can lift. To be able to lift more weight, you need to train your body to recruit more muscle to the task. By lifting progressively more weight in the same motion, you more develop pathways from your brain to recruit more muscle, which is essentially what building strength is. This takes time and even at your fittest, you’re probably only recruiting around 30% of the muscle.

    With Compex, you can recruit more muscle because the stimulation is direct and does not involve weight increases. The device works as the signals telling your muscles to fire instead of your brain. Targeting of these muscles is also easier because you are placing the pads over the muscles you want to contract. This is also helpful for underutilized muscle groups like gluteals that are important for strength but not as easy to build.

    You can either use Compex to build strength instead of weight training, in addition to your weight training program or while you lift.

    Lifting with Compex muscle stim can help you build more strength by firing more muscle while you’re lifting, thus allowing you to lift more weight. If you’re working on your deadlifts or clean and jerks, this can help you reach new weight goals.

    Reducing Impact

    Typically, in order to build strength, you need to lift more weight. However, this can lead to soreness and recovery time, pressure on joints and connective tissue, and possible injury. Compex muscle stim can help you work passed some of those hang ups and still increase your strength.

    Using Compex muscle stim while you are training helps you have more muscle contraction without adding more weight. This reduces the impact on joints without sacrificing performance. Because of the impact reduction, this can also lead to a shorter recovery time. Get the most from simple bodyweight exercises or make your lifting sessions count more.

    Balance

    We all have a stronger side. When you are doing CrossFit, even if you are aware of which side is weaker, you body will still automatically compensate as soon as you lift, land or run. If you’re not balanced, there is risk of injury. If you have a weaker side, you’re not truly maximizing your strength.

    Compex muscle stim has 4 different channels; that means you can hook the device up to both sides of the body at the same time. Use Compex to either strengthen a weaker side or to keep both sides of the body balanced while building strength.

    Speed of Contraction

    How fast your muscles contract is not crucial, but it is important for quick movements like clean pulls or jumping. Training your muscle to fire a certain way every time is the best way to increase the speed of contraction. Practice makes perfect and the same is true for your muscles; the more times they fire a certain way, the faster they’ll do it.

    For example, when you jump, your leg muscles need to fire right away in order to send your body upwards. Jumping repeatedly to increase your jump or using weights can have a negative impact on your knees, feet or ankles before you reach your goals. However, training with Compex muscle stim allows you to train those muscles to fire how you want and as fast as you want.

    Early this year, we told you about how volleyball player Brandon Talbot used Compex to increase his vertical leap and potentially break three world records. Talbot didn’t want to use weights so he chose electric muscle stimulation to increase his explosive strength. By doing so, he increased his jump using just Compex and ultimately was able to leap onto a 61’’ platform from the ground.

    Recovery

    As important as training is to reaching your fitness goals, so is giving your body time to recover. When you’re in the zone, it might be hard to a take a day or two off to rest your muscles but Compex can aid in recovery and help you get back on the floor faster.

    Using an electric muscle stimulator like Compex helps increase blood flow up to 600%. This means you’re moving out waste products that build up from intense physical activity like lactic acid or debris from muscle fibers. This leaves more room for fresh blood to help your muscles heal.

    Foam rolling is a great way to break up adhesions that can cause muscle pain and soreness. However, foam rolling is a very mechanical process where you physically roll out your muscles like you would with a rolling pin and dough. While this is very effective, it can be painful. Using the Active Recovery program helps break up some of the adhesions, but it only targets the muscle, not any connective tissue, making it less painful. At the same time, it helps to release endorphins, making you feel better and want to get back out there.

    Got questions or want to tell us about how Compex has upped your CrossFit game? Talk to us on @CompexCoach on Twitter.

  2. Debunking the Myths around Compex Muscle Stimulators

    NMES Myths

    There are many myths, misconceptions and concerns around electric muscle stimulators and rightly so. Using a device that sends an electric current through your body sounds dangerous and painful. But medical devices like the Compex Electric Muscle Stimulator are reviewed by governing bodies, and are designed to perform very specific functions that are mirrored after the body’s own processes and are very safe.

    Let’s dive into some of the most common questions and concerns (for a full list of all FAQs, click here).

     

    Q: What does a Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulator (NMES) like Compex do?

    A: The principle of electrostimulation is very simple; it reproduces the processes that occur when our brain orders muscles to contract. It works almost like a relay race; when we decide to contract a muscle, our brain sends an electrical current down through our nerve fibers. Once it reaches the muscle, the terminal motor neurons fire and stimulate the muscle fibers to contract.

    When you use an electric muscle stimulator, the signal is sent directly to the motor neurons using brain-like electrical pulses. In fact, muscles cannot tell the difference between a contraction triggered by the brain and one caused by a NMES device. The difference is that with a NMES device, you bathe the entire length of the motor neurons. The result is a more thorough and complete muscular contraction. There is also less impact on bones and joints since the stimulation is coming from the device and not from an activity such as weight lifting.

     

    Q: Are there any side effects when using a NMES device?

    A: Side effects are limited; Compex is a very safe device. However, if you are looking to build strength and start off with too high of a setting, you can experience soreness, the same way you would if you work out too hard at the gym. There has also been reports of skin irritation from the pads.

    It should also be noted that improper use of a muscle stimulation unit can easily lead to skin burns, according to research published in "The Journal of Arthroplasty" in 2005. Dr. Daryl Lawson states that if a strong electrical current is delivered through a small electrode, the skin is exposed to a higher concentration of electricity per unit of area, which can cause burns. Again, start off slow and figure out what levels are best for you and that you’re most comfortable with.

     

    Q: What about other NMES devices that claim they can help you lose weight? Some claim to give you six-pack abs!

    A: While a NMES device may be able to strengthen, tone or firm a muscle, no NMES devices have been cleared at this time specifically for weight loss, girth reduction, or “six pack abs”. Both the FDA and FTC have cracked down on companies making false claims about their NMES products.

    Using these devices alone will not give you "six-pack" abs. Stimulating muscles repeatedly with electricity will 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.

    However, in a study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, there was a marked increase in their caloric output from using Compex. Because of their condition, regular exercise was not an option. While Compex does not entirely replace exercise, for patients who cannot engage in more strenuous activity, Compex can be used to strengthen muscle, increase definition and muscle size, and increase caloric output.

     

    Q: Does using a NMES device give you an unfair advantage?

    A: Not anymore than having a dedicated training and recovery program does. While the use of Compex has been proven to increase performance, it does so by increasing muscle actions that the body already performs during a workout. The difference is that they are much more targeted and allow for more muscle contraction of specific muscle groups and muscle fiber types. The body can't tell if the signals for a contraction are from the brain or Compex. Compex stimulates the entire nerve vs. just part of it.

     

    Q: Are there any sports currently banning / restricting their use?

    A: At this time, the use of NMES devices has not been banned or restricted.

     

    Q: Is the use of a NMES device a “quick fix? How soon will I see results?

    A: Depends on your definition of “quick fix”. While the effects of recovery are felt instantly, using Compex to build muscle doesn't happen instantly.

    If you are using Compex for building strength, expect to start to feel and see results in 2-3 weeks. If you are looking to use Compex to increase the amount of enzymes needed to deliver energy for contracting muscle, it will take about 6 weeks. If you are using Compex to increase tone, you should see results in about 3-4 weeks.

     

    Q: What if you only use NMES without exercising?

    A: Even without exercise, NMES devices will strengthen your muscles. However, you will not receive the added benefits of an exercise program such as cardiovascular health. It is recommended that a NMES device be included as part of your overall health or fitness plan.

     

    Q: Are there any side effects when using a NMES device?

    A: Side effects are limited; Compex is a very safe device. However, if you are looking to build strength and start off with too high of a setting, you can experience soreness, the same way you would if you work out too hard at the gym. There has also been reports of skin irritation from the pads.

    It should also be noted that improper use of a muscle stimulation unit can easily lead to skin burns, according to research published in "The Journal of Arthroplasty" in 2005. Dr. Daryl Lawson states that if a strong electrical current is delivered through a small electrode, the skin is exposed to a higher concentration of electricity per unit of area, which can cause burns. Again, start off slow and figure out what levels are best for you and that you’re most comfortable with.

     

    Q: What parts of the body is NMES most effective on? Is there anywhere on the body where I shouldn’t use an NMES?

    A: NMES units can be used on almost all parts of the body. However, stimulation should not be applied on the neck. A severe spasm of the muscles may occur and the contractions may be strong enough to close the airway or cause difficulty in breathing. In addition, stimulation on the neck could also have adverse effects on the heart rhythm or blood pressure.

    The effects of stimulation of the brain are unknown. Therefore, stimulation should not be applied across the head and electrodes should not be placed on opposite sides of the head.

    Electrodes used for electrical stimulation should not be applied across the chest because the introduction of electrical current into the chest may cause rhythm disturbances to the heart.

    While we are discussing the chest, you should use caution when using a NMES if you have an implanted pacemaker. Implanted pacemakers and heart defibrillators can mistake EMI from the electrical muscle stimulator for a physiological signal coming from the body itself. This causes the devices to respond to the signal -- pacemakers do so by changing their rate, and implanted defibrillators may deliver an unnecessary shock.

    In addition, do not use Compex if you have the following medical conditions:

    • Epilepsy
    • Following acute trauma or fracture
    • Following recent surgical procedures
    • Critical ischemia of lower limbs
    • Abdominal or inguinal hernia
    • Cancerous lesions

     

    Q: What sports tend to be benefit the most from NMES? Is it just for athletes?

    A:  NMES units are for anyone looking to build strength, increase performance, or recover faster. You do not have to be an athlete; NMES units are recommended for anyone looking to achieve their fitness goals.

    Compex is recommended for anyone participating in a sport that requires strength like lifting, endurance like triathlons, or anyone in a competitive sports league that needs to speed up recovery time between games or matches.

     

    Q: Is there a particular age group that benefits the most from NMES?

    A:  Compex has been used for children as young as 10 years old; however not without adult supervision. Compex can be used by young people for recovery but also to build strength. In some ways, it is safer than the weight room because there is no pressure placed on growth plates, bones or joints.

     

    Q: Are NMES systems are really expensive?

    A: No. Depending on which model you choose, they are relatively affordable. Compex models start at $399.99 USD.

     

    Q: Can you use a NMES device everyday?

    A: Yes, but remember with any training program, recovery is an important part of the process. Luckily Compex can be used for both training and recovery depending on setting.

     

    Q: What is the difference between Compex Muscle Stimulators and ones used for medical purposes like muscle re education, physical therapy or to prevent venous thrombosis?

    A: There are a lot of different types of electrical stimulators that stimulate nerves. Physical therapists often use one called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS. TENS units use a different kind of wave / frequency that stimulates sensory nerves instead of motor nerves like Compex. TENS units work with sensory nerves to block pain. When using a TENS device, you’ll feel a buzzing but no contraction of the muscle.

    Compex is a NMES: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulator. Compex works on a “all or nothing” principle. Once the motor neuron fires, the muscle fibers that it innervates will contract. The nerve cell and the muscle fibers it innervates is called a motor unit. One nerve cell will innervate anywhere from 10 to 1000 muscle fibers depending on the muscle fiber types, e.g. slow twitch vs. fast twitch. Either all of the motor unit fires, or none of it does. The strength of a contraction is determined by how many motor units fire synchronously.

    When the pulse is sent, you will feel a twitch, a variety of twitches or very short contractions when running warm up or recovery programs. This type of response is common in the MarcPro unit, which is for recovery only. Compex not only delivers the recovery twitches, but also delivers twitches to warm the muscle up before an activity. On top of that, Compex has as many as four programs that contract the muscle for seconds at a time; enough so that when repeated throughout the length of a program, increased strength is developed after 10 sessions.

    When you compare Compex with other similar products, the technology is the same, but the range of frequencies is different. Compex has 4 circuits. What that means is that four different muscle groups can be stimulated at the same time. A lot of muscle can be covered each time a program is run.

    The muscle is the conduit for the current. At the proper frequency and pulse duration, it will stimulate motor nerves and only motor nerves. The Compex can be very powerful – more powerful than other popular NMES devices. It has the ability to penetrate deeply to contract more muscle than can be achieved with a maximum voluntary contraction. When the current penetrates more deeply, you stimulate more motor nerves and more muscle fibers. However, you choose the degree to which the muscle contracts. The stimulation levels are finely graded so you can select the exact level of current you want based on your comfort level.

    Compex delivers a biphasic square wave of electricity. What that means is instead of a gradual build up, the current comes almost instantly so the nerve does not accommodate or hesitate. It sounds like it would be more painful this way however, this type of wave is actually more comfortable. Without the hesitation, the nerve and muscle fibers are stimulated at a lower level of energy.

     

    Do you have more questions about Compex or electric muscle stimulators in general? Please ask away in the comments!

     

    Sources:

    https://www.compex.com/user-manual/indication

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20437&page=2

    http://www.medword.com/MedwordStore/PCP/EMS_truth.html

    http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ucm142478.htm

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/37127-electrical-muscle-stimulation-work/

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/153338-muscle-stimulation-dangers/

    http://www.activeforever.com/electronic-muscle-stimulators

    http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/256/electrical-muscle-stimulation-ems-claims-exposed/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_muscle_stimulation

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