#28: The Science and History Behind EMS

#28: The Science and History Behind EMS

Whether you want to activate your muscles and improve your fitness performance, recover faster, or simply massage away everyday aches and pains, electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) provides the perfect solution. Electrical muscle stimulation is becoming more and more mainstream, where it was once not as widely known and later only administered by physicians and physical therapists. Today electric muscle stimulation is accessible to everyone--from professional athletes and trainers to fitness enthusiasts, weekend warriors and more.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the history of electric muscle stimulation and uncover some little known facts as well as new uses and benefits. You’ll learn about the science behind electrical muscle stimulation plus how you can effectively incorporate EMS into your weekly workout routine.

What is Electrical Muscle Stimulation?

Electric muscle stimulation uses electrical impulses to cause muscles to contract, resulting in stronger, more toned muscles. Your brain sends an electric signal to your muscles, and they contract in response. PowerDot Smart Muscle Stimulator replicates this process, but at a higher intensity. Our EMS device sends electronic pulses to your motor nerves, causing many more muscles fibers to contract than possible during your regular workout.

We’ve taken the proven concept of neuromuscular electric stimulation (NES, or NMES) and created a lightweight, portable smart EMS device that you can use to strengthen, build and relax muscles--all in one. Neuromuscular electric stimulation is a procedure where small electric impulses are used to stimulate, or excite muscles that are weak or paralyzed. Neuromuscular electric stimulation is a type of medical treatment and physical therapy that helps increase blood circulation in targeted muscles, strengthen and re-train those muscles, lessen muscle spasms, and increase a patient’s range of motion.

Muscle Fiber Science

PowerDot engages Type 1 slow-twitch muscles fibers and Type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibers, sending electrical pulses every 2-3 seconds. Slow-twitch muscle fibers contract and tire slowly; they are responsible for supporting muscle strength and endurance. Fast-twitch muscle fibers contract quickly, but require lots of energy and tire quickly as well. Electric muscle stimulation helps promote blood flow, sending oxygen to muscles while also flushing out lactic acids that can cause muscle soreness.

Because electrical muscle stimulation overrides the central nervous system, it helps speed up muscle contraction, strengthen muscles, improve muscle endurance and support faster muscle recovery. Electric muscle stimulation treatments, when applied correctly and consistently, help enhance overall fitness performance including increased explosiveness, strength, strength endurance and recovery.

The Discovery of Electric Stimulation

The earliest known use of electric muscle stimulation dates back to around 500 BC. Over 2,000 years ago the Egyptians discovered that certain fish emit electrical impulses; these fish were used to treat pain. The Greeks and Romans followed suit, leveraging the electrical properties of fish like the electric ray to ease various ailments.

Fast forward to the 18th century. In 1745 German physician Altus Kratzstein wrote the very first book on electrical therapy, asserting that muscles could be manipulated via electrical current. Another notable discovery later that century was Italian physician and physicist Luigi Galvani’s work on bioelectricity in animals. He experimented with passing an electric current through a frog’s spine to control muscle contractions in its legs. Interestingly, writer Mary Shelley was inspired by the concept of what became known as Galvanism--the idea that scientists could manipulate electricity to stimulate, or restart life. This formed the basis of her well known work, Frankenstein.

A History Lesson in EMS

In the 19th century the Faradization technique (1831) emerged, an early method of electrical stimulation therapy used to effectively treat motor paralysis in patients. Physicist and chemist Michael Faraday’s studies of electromagnetism led to the eventual acceptance of electrical stimulation therapy in hospitals in London beginning in 1840. Later, in 1860s London, The Medical Battery Company, Limited produced the Electropathic Battery Belt, or Ab Belt similar to our concept of EMS devices and treatments used today.

At the turn of the 20th century other electrical muscle stimulation devices surfaced. Many of these inventions were bulky, difficult to transport and produced effective yet unpleasant electrical stimulation effects. Physicians began to routinely use early EMS devices to treat various acute and chronic illnesses from 1920 to the mid 1960s.

The 1976 Montreal Olympics served as a major turning point in EMS history. Soviet scientist Dr. Yakov Kots became one of the first proponents of using EMS in sports--specifically to enhance USSR Olympic athletes’ fitness performance in the games. Kots used a 2500 MHz frequency in his EMS application, which became known as the Russian Stim, or Kots Current. His studies and applications showed that this particular electric current increased fast-twitch muscles for greater speed in athletes, and helped athletes build muscle as well.

What are the Benefits of Electric Muscle Stimulation?

Many of the world’s top athletes still use electrical muscle stimulation to enhance their training. But now more than ever, electric muscle stimulation is available to a wider, more mainstream audience. Using an EMS device like PowerDot, you can accelerate your fitness performance, build muscle strength and strength endurance, and recover faster and more fully without a trip to the doctor, physical therapist, or even the gym. Electrical muscle stimulation of this type can be used easily and discreetly on-the-go or in the comfort of your own home. Our EMS device is clinically proven, FDA cleared and safe for weekly use.

Electrical muscle stimulation helps:

  • Improve muscle performance
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Increase muscle growth
  • Increase local blood circulation
  • Relax muscles
  • Reduce muscle soreness
  • Prevent muscle atrophy
  • Tone muscles

Electrical muscle stimulation is meant to be paired with your training routines and workout programs to enhance fitness performance, and support muscle recovery in between workouts or post workout. When correctly and consistently integrated into your workout routine, electric muscle stimulation helps support your fitness journey at all stages and at any fitness level.

With 10 preset programs and customizable settings, you can access highly effective electric muscle stimulation designed to help you run faster, jump higher and go longer than you’ve ever experienced in your traditional workout.

Explore our everyday and performance programs, and get ready to get into the best shape of your life!


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