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Spartacus Maximus
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 1735

Styles: Shorin ryu

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject: Ever used EMS pads? Reply with quote

Has anyone ever used electric muscle stimulation devices? EMS are usually sold in sets of several pads for abs or arms or legs. They have been around for at least three or four decades. Athletes of the Eastern Block were known to use them and many high profile personalities including Bruce Lee before the things began to be sold to the general public.

As of now there are countless makers, brands and varying types ranging from cheap 50USD to stupidly expensive 1000's of USD. Are they really worth it? They seem to more of a fad or a gimmick and artificially causing muscles to contract without actual physical effort might have unknown or misunderstood negative effects on the body.

What is your opinion and why? Is EMS a legitimate way to train?
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2439
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Train? No. Aid in recovery? Possibly. It's used by physical therapists the world over, at this point, and I felt that it helped me recover from my last knee dislocation. I know a number of athletes who use it to add in recovery from DOMS as well. It's not going to make your muscles stronger.
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Shorin-Ryu | 2010-Present: Nidan | Sensei: Richard Poage (RIP), Jeff Allred (RIP)
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Karate Obsession | Arizona Practical Karate
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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6159
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used a TENS machine (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) for pain management and to treat DOMS. Not wholly sure whether it works or is just a placebo effect. Never tried it for muscle growth and I wonder how effective it really is.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14485
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope!! Never have, never will!! Reading that Bruce did things like that, turned me off on the idea quickly because, to me, it seemed strange and cheating, and to be honest, a fad.

But, that's me. Skeptical to the end.



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JR 137
KF Sempai
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Joined: 10 May 2015
Posts: 2380
Location: In the dojo
Styles: Seido Juku

PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used it as described in the OP in a rehab setting. To be honest, I found its effect minimal. I used it (Russian stimulation, which is the waveform) a lot on ankle sprains; I'd attach it to motor points on the peroneal muscles and have the patient dorsiflex (bring the toes to the shin, so to speak) while the current was on, and have them relax when it went off. Same with ACL rehab, where I attached it to the head of the VMO muscle (lock your knee out, it's the teardrop shaped muscle on the inside edge of the kneecap). It helped with disuse atrophy (muscle loss due to not using it properly) and relearning some motor movement. With these injuries, I felt it was better to do it and say it was minimal if anything than not do it and have someone say they would've been better off if they did.

For any other way to build muscle or strength, IMO it's a waste of time. And money.

TENS and other waveforms can work well for pain control. They hypothetically desensitize nerves, blocking some pain signals. This allows better regular use of the injured muscles/tendons/ligaments, which can help the recovery process along.

As far as cost and quality of the pads go, I've used many different ones and found no difference related to price. The main concerns should be the appropriate size, shape, and type. If it's too big, you can't zero in on an area. Too small and you can't get enough current without burning the skin.

Type - there's 2 main types: adhesive and non-adhesive.

Adhesive has a sticky gum-like bottom that goes onto the skin. These typically dry out (and dry out faster if not sealed in a bag when not in use), and if you're not careful you can pull the wire out of the pad easily.

The non-adhesive type have a flexible plastic pad, and you can put either ultrasound gel or a wet sponge under it and strap it onto the area. They're far more durable, but can slide off easier.

I mainly used adhesive. And there wasn't any realistic difference between brands and cost. I'd avoid the fabric backed ones in favor the foam type ones. The fabric ones fell apart quicker.

Get the cheapest of this type and call it a day IMO:
http://www.djoglobal.com/products/chattanooga/dura-stick-ii-self-adhesive-electrodes

Not this type:
https://www.tensunits.com/product/E235PRWCP.html
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