Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS)

Two different types of EMS instruments will be discussed here. One is a massage type device. The other sends electrical currents to muscle and fatty tissue.  Healthcare practitioners have used approved EMS equipment for years.  EMS equipment is approved for specific applications. Some of these conditions are to:

  • Prevent blood clots
  • Relax muscle spasms
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Rehabilitate muscle function after a stroke

EMS equipment providers explain to consumers that these devices can:

  • Remove wrinkles
  • Reduce breast size

Reduce bellies

  • Remove cellulite
  • Perform face lifts

While no clinical evidence proves these claims, but we will briefly explain how the process works, according to the providers.

The basic principle is applying EMS causes the brain to send a nerve impulse to the particular muscle you wish to change. This signal is a message telling the muscle to expand and contract.

Electrodes are placed on specific motor points of the muscle group(s) for each treatment. During the treatment electrical stimulation is applied through the electrodes with a mild current and muscle contracts and expands. This makes it possible to replicate regular exercise without the effort involved with conventional methods.

During conventional exercise your brain and muscles work together causing voluntary muscle action. Your brain is sending messages down the spinal cord through the nerves with your active muscles. This causes them to relax and contract. 

EMS uses the electrical source to stimulate the nerves that send signals to your muscle to contract and expand.  It sends an electrical current through adhesive electrodes. This expansion and contraction    is involuntary muscle action.

Some healthcare practitioners believe EMS stimulates large nerve axons, or long outgrowths of a nerve cell.  Since some of these cannot be stimulated voluntarily it may be true that EMS allows for increased development of tissue by enlarging through activity and not by multiplying cells.

The massage type device has a trademarked name so we shall not mention its name.  The makers of this device claim to have the first FDA approved device for temporary reduction of cellulite appearance.  They describe the process as a subdermal approach to cellulite reduction and acknowledge it is temporary.

This is facilitated by a hand held motorized device with two adjustable rollers and suction. This creates a symmetrical skin-fold.  It is this folding action by the continuous roller activity that generates smooth and regulated deep tissue mobilization. The skin folds and unfolds gently guided by the rollers. This causes the subcutaneous fat layer to become less viscous. It increases circulation and lymphatic drainage in the immediate area.  This facilitates elimination of excess fluid and metabolites and improves cellular function. Presumably this reduces cellulite or its appearance. 

These instruments may yield harmful effects if not used properly.  Their advertising borders on ‘snake oil salesman’ techniques.  We suggest you do your research and remember the old saying ‘let the buyer beware’.

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