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.
Electric muscle stimulation, or neuromuscular electric stimulation (NMES), is a common modality of physical therapy and rehab treatment. For serious athletes, however, it is also used as a powerful tool for training and physical recovery to optimize performance. More commonly referred to as e-stim or muscle stim, an NMES device delivers electronic pulses to motor nerves through electrodes placed on the skin, causing a motor response to achieve a number of desired results.
Top E-Stim Picks
An e-stim device allows you to contract up to 100% of your muscle fibers, an effect that is virtually impossible with exercise alone. Compex devices can add quality to your training in ways that traditional methods of exercise, mobility or recovery can’t and will give you an added edge to your sport or training. The broad variety of programs offered with Compex will allow maximal contraction of Type 1 (slow twitch, endurance) and Type 2 (fast twitch, power) muscle fibers for a better quality of performance and improved worked capacity in any domain.
Use the Compex Warm-Up or Potentiation programs to increase the efficiency of your warmup and thoroughly prep your body for training or an event. The wireless unit is especially convenient to move through exercises as you follow a quick prep program.
Not only can Compex be used in addition to your training sessions, but it can be used for accessory work or even as a stand alone workout. Boost your performance by recruiting more muscle fibers by adding the Compex device to your workout routine, an extra session at home, or during travel. The Compex device can also be beneficial to reeducating muscle groups to contract correctly and can be used to target problem areas or muscle imbalances and deficiencies that you struggle to balance and correct with conventional methods.
The twitches of muscles produced by your Compex recovery programs help to promote blood flow that brings vital nutrients to sore and fatigued areas that assist in healing and recovery. It can also be used to alleviate muscle spasms by breaking the pain spasm cycle, allowing it to relax.
Using a Compex device is easy with low effort for high rewards. The Compex program instructions are simple to follow and will benefit any athlete or training enthusiast driving for the next level. E-stim is a powerful tool to move you beyond your routine!
Whether looking for a tool to boost your fitness and strength or recover from an injury quickly, electric muscle stimulation (EMS) can help you achieve your goal. With that comes many questions, like what exactly is NMES and TENS? This is a common question we get at events when we are demonstrating the Compex’s uses and benefits. To avoid further confusion, we want to clarify the differences between NMES (NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation) and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). Many people have been in physical therapy and may have had an experience with TENS and NMES devices, but were not educated on the difference between these types of stimulus.
TENS vs NMES
TENS and NMES target different nerve groups of the body. TENS is specifically targets the sensory nerves, which are responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. NMES targets the muscle itself, specifically through the motor nerves. This allows the NMES machine to create a muscle contraction to recruit more muscle fibers when training; warming up or recovering. Sensory and motor nerves fire at different frequencies, which is why NMES and TENS devices affect the body differently.
TENS - Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
TENS is the use of an electrical current to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes. TENS stimulates the sensory nerves, suppressing the pain signals that are being sent to the brain to give the user relief. In other words, TENS “tricks” the brain to ignore the pain for a short duration of time by applying a non-painful stimulus to the same area.
NMES – NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation
NMES uses electric muscle stimulation (EMS) to cause excitement in the muscle tissue. This stimulus is designed to mimic the same type of signal the brain sends to the muscle when working out. There are two types of muscle fiber: slow twitch and fast twitch. Both muscle fibers contract at different frequencies. Compex Electric Muscle Stimulators offer various pre-programed settings which target the specific muscle types differently by adjusting the frequencies and work to rest cycles. To learn more about the variety of settings, click here. The training settings are set to run in time intervals that depend on the goal of the muscle stimulus. For example, an Endurance Program will run at a lower frequency to target slow twitch fibers, have a longer contraction time and a shorter rest cycle. The more you increase the intensity of the device, the more muscle fiber you recruit. This is how users see big strength gains, increases in vertical and reduce the risk for injury.
Check out the article in Men's Health and Fitness all about the safety of NMES written by Brittany Smith. www.mensfitness.com/life/entertainment/healthy
Is This Healthy?
Athletes are using personal neuro-muscular electrical nerve stimulation to get an edge in the gym and unleash their full potential. We investigated whether it's safe and if you should try it, too.
Is This Healthy?: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Devices
Short answer: Yes. With very few side effects, and potential to supercharge recovery, muscle, and strength gains, using an at-home neuro-muscular electrical nerve stimulation device can be valuable for pretty much anyone.
The practice of zapping muscles to stimulate contractions was first introduced in the early 50s among European countries, like Russia, for space programs, in order to prevent muscle atrophy in astronauts, says Drew Little, C.S.C.S., a performance specialist at Michael Johnson Performance, an elite training facility in McKinney, Texas. More literature came out on the technology in the 70s before it made its way to the U.S. and Canada in the 80s and 90s.
How It Works
When you attach a device—like what's offered from companies such as Compex, pictured above, to a muscle and begin a program (for more on the types of programs you can do—and to read our review on two Compex devices—click here), an electrical current travels through the electrodes, down your nerve fibers, sets off their motor neurons, then stimulates a strong muscle contraction, mirroring what your nervous system typically does on its own, only to a greater extent. Now, you can attach a device during a warmup to prime your body for lifts, use it during a workout to elevate bodyweight or weighted moves for better results, pop it on in lieu of a workout with a resistance setting, or use post-workout to speed up and kickstart the recovery process.
NMES devices stimulate and contract 100% of your muscle, something your body can't voluntarily do; your body caps stimulation at about 45 percent for normal guys and around 65 for weightlifters as a protective mechanism to prevent injury. So, your body prevents you from lifting something monstrously heavy, like a car, so you don't obliterate your body (though there are "freak" instances and scenarios where this is overrided and adrenaline kicks in so you can surpass this maximum).
A NMES device also hastens the amount of time it takes to trigger slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. "During a squat or bench press, depending on the load, your body will recruit slow-twitch muscle fibers first (which takes about 20 milliseconds), then roll into the fast twitch (which takes 50-60 milliseconds)," Little says. "But a NMES device bypasses that pathway, so all muscle fibers are recruited at the same time."
You stimulate hard-to-get-to muscle fibers quicker and more effectively than you can with traditional weightlifting; plus, it puts less strain on your joints. And, unlike a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit, which delivers very small doses of electric currents to relieve pain, you can use a NMES device to accelerate your results in the gym, from warmup to cool down. Find out more about how to use it here.
Who Should Use NMES
Cyclists, runners, triathletes, lifters, baseball players, football players, basketball players, and other athletes—beginner or advanced—can use these devices to get faster, go longer, jump higher, get stronger, reduce chronic pain, enhance circulation, prevent imbalances, and strengthen the core. Basically any guy who wants a bit of an edge when it comes to health and fitness should try one out.
This doesn't mean you should quit your gym membership, though. It's best used to enhance your regimen, not replace it.
There are few negative side effects. "There's a rare possibility electrical burns can happen with poor pads or faulty, damaged wires, or that someone uses the device incorrectly," says physical therapist Chris Kolba, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
For instance, you should never apply any muscle stim device to your neck, head, or chest. Severe spasms can close your airway and make it difficult to breathe; scientists don't know the effects of stimulation on the brain; and electrical currents to the chest can throw off and disturb rhythms to your heart.
"The only other kind of complication that can come from this type of device is if people have pacemakers and cardiac conditions; you need to get permission from your medical provider to see if it elevates your risk of heart attack," Little adds. People with epilepsy, have recently had acute trauma, fracture, surgery, and some other conditions shouldn't use a device either. Speak with your healthcare provider before starting anything new.
And while there aren't particularly harmful outcomes from using NMES, there are times when the device can hinder your progress and goals. "You want to periodize your training regimen with a device, so you're not using resistance programs 52 weeks a year," Little explains. To keep your body from adapting, you need to provide new foreign stimuli. In other words, you can over-use a device like this for strength, power, and resistance (though using it daily for recovery, warmups, and cool downs is perfectly fine).
Kolba concludes: "I prefer foam rolling, soft tissue and mobility work, sleep, nutrition, and a proper strength and power program for significant gains." That said, a device could help enhance and assist all of the above. For a more in-depth profile of how to incorporate a device in your regimen, read our review on two of Compex's most high-tech devices.
One of the big questions we get from athletes is how to use Compex for more than Recovery. We sat down with Casey Parlett, Co-Owner of CrossFit760, to discuss how they introduce Compex to their athlete’s at all different levels.
What is the CrossFit 760 philosophy?
CrossFit760’s philosophy is directly in line with what CrossFit has been doing since the beginning: Constantly varied, Functional movements executed at a high intensity. To take that a step further at CrossFit760 we are adement the proper movement mechanics and consistency must be in place before adding intensity.
How does Compex fit in with that Philosophy?
Compex fits right in with what we are doing because of its ability to teach proper muscle recruitment to improve movement flaws. Also the recovery and strength building with Compex allow our athletes to be in the gym more consistently – they’re constantly being able to work at those high intensities that produce the greatest results.
How do you recommend someone new to lifting use Compex?
New athletes wanting to use Compex will generally feel most comfortable using it for the recovery aspect. However, starting a new lifter on the resistance setting in a static position on a low intensity level, allows the athlete to start acheiving strength and muscle building benefits, while getting comfortable with how to use and feel of the unit.
When do you progress?
As with any other training protocol it is important to have a slow and steady linear progression over 4-8 weeks, gradually increasing intensity. Everyone is different in their level of fitness and how they’ll adapt to Compex. Some people have more experience with form and technique, or have years of lifting experience so they may find they progress faster as they get comfortable with the device.
Example of a Squat Progression for a person new to lifting.
What gains have you seen compared to before recommending Compex?
In the gym we’ve seen improvements across the board from our athletes that are using it. From increased recovery, to strength gains, to injury rehabilitation.
How does that change for a more experienced lifter?
The more experienced lifter is going to see smaller gains, but that little bit more work the device allows through increased recovery and the small strength gains pay off huge long term.
Stay Tuned as we continue to dive deeper into incorporating Compex into specific lifting techniques, for beginners to advanced lifters, throughout the year.
We caught up with Compex triathlete Josh Amberger to talk about his favorite Compex program he uses and how he incorporates it into his weekly workout routine. Here's what Josh had to say:
I love the strength mode on my Compex and I use it twice weekly to compliment my strength sessions on the bike. We can only stress the heart and lungs to a certain point before fatigue, but I find I can use the Compex in strength mode to get a little bit more from the muscles without stressing the heart and lungs beyond the bike ride. Once I get in the door from a key bike ride, I prepare a meal and then sit down to eat whilst dialing the Compex into a strength program. The strength program has different levels of operation, which I can adjust depending on how hard and low I pushed on the bike, what training I have tomorrow, and how far away from a key event I am. It's the perfect mode for going one step further in my training.
To learn more about the different Compex units and which electric muscle simulator device is right for you, check out our product comparison page. There we talk about the differences and benefits to using the Comepx Edge, Performance US and our Sport Elite unit. ShopCompex.com/Muscle-Stimulators
Check out the latest muscle stimulator in Compex's line of EMS devices. The Performance US was designed for the fitness enthusiast and/or the athlete which engages in frequent competition. It features a total of 5 programs with 5 levels of progression to help competitive athletes achieve the highest level of performance.