Electric muscle stimulation is used to rehabilitate muscles during physical therapy. The devices stimulate muscles by using an electric current. The electric current causes muscle contractions and when used regularly, strengthens the muscle. Electric stimulation can be used to prevent muscle atrophy, improve healing, treat muscle and ligament injuries and relieve pain and swelling. Electric muscle stimulation can be used to strengthen your leg muscles.
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Muscle contraction happens when your nerves send a signal to your muscles. A nerve signal is an electric current that moves along your nerve until it arrives to the neuromuscular junction. Here the nerve impulse causes a release of neurotransmitters that cause a muscle contraction in the target muscle, such as your hamstring. The electric muscle stimulation devices cause a muscle contraction in a similar manner. The electric current from the device will mimic a nerve impulse that leads to the release of neurotransmitters and a muscle contraction.
You can strengthen the muscles in your legs by muscle-strengthening activities such as weightlifting, yoga and rock climbing. These exercises make your muscles work against resistance. When your muscles are regularly forced to work against resistance, such as a heavy dumbbell or your body weight, they will increase in size. Increased size of muscle tissue will lead to strengthening of the muscle. For example, targeting you quadriceps and hamstrings with squats will strengthen your legs.
Electric muscle stimulation devices can be used to resemble resistance training and to strengthen your muscles. When you do weight training, the more resistance -- the higher the weight you are using -- the more muscle fibers are recruited for the muscle contraction. This effect can also be accomplished with the electronic stimulation device. You can change the electric current to mimic a forceful, high resistance or a gentle, low resistance muscle contraction. The faster the rate of the electric current, the “heavier” the resistance is to your muscles and the more muscle fibers will contract.
Use the electric muscle stimulation device to strengthen muscles, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and gastronemicus, in your legs. The muscle contractions caused by the device will have the same effects on your muscles as a muscle contraction that occurs during an exercise. The stimulation is done by placing electrodes on your skin. The electric current will travel through your skin to your muscle and will mimic the normal nerve impulse. Electric muscle stimulation will help increase the strength of your leg muscles as well as blood flow to the muscle. According to William James Lamers, an electric muscle stimulation consultant, if you are activating multiple muscle groups at the same time for over 40 minutes, your blood endorphin levels will also rise.
- “Anatomy and Physiology”; Gary Thibodeau, et al.; 2007.
- BioStimTherapy.com: Electrical Muscle Stimulation - Healing, Strengthening, Mobilization & Pain Management; William James Lamers
- Active Life: Electric Muscle Stimulation