EMS (Electronic Muscle Stimulation), NMES (Neuro Muscular Electronic Stimulation), E-Stims, Muscle Stims etc essentially all mean the same thing… However NMES is probably the most fitting name for what Muscle Stimulation is.

Simplifaster, give a fantastic summary of what muscle stimulation is, and the benefits.

The best minds in the world, all agree that muscle stimulation should be included in every training regime. Before we can get to the benefits of muscle stimulation, we first need to understand how it works, and a bit of science behind muscle stimulation

Sensory Neuron

Muscle stimulation is quite simple… a NMES unit will stimulate the nerve, which then stimulates the muscle, causing an involuntary contraction

It is important to note, that to get the full benefit of NMES, you need to set out clear objectives and goals, and use NMES with a training programme, and not use NMES in isolation.

Why use NMES / EMS?

  1. Research shows an increase in performance when integrating EMS with with a training programme
  2. EMS delivers a powerful “clean” contraction – EMS works on the muscle contracting specific muscle in isolation, without putting stress on any joints as you are not working with any load, this is an important consideration when targeting fast twitch muscle fibers
  3. EMS Facilitates recovery – EMS stimulates blood flow thereby promoting quicker recovery.

How does EMS help you perform better

  1. Warming Up – With EMS you “wake up” dormant muscle fibers. Involuntary contractions activate more muscle fiber compared to voluntary contractions. In addition EMS stimulates bloodflow, and gets blood into the muscle much quicker. The more muscle fibers you have activated, the more muscle you have to work with and therefore the stronger you will be
  2. Targeting Fast Twitch muscle fibers is easier with EMS
  3. Activating White, Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers.

Voluntary Contraction

Muscle recruitment order:

  • Slow Twitch
  • Intermediate Twitch
  • Fast Twitch

Voluntary muscle contractions roll through the muscle in a wave to generate a coordinated, directed force. Slow twitch fiber is activated first, as it is the most energy efficient, though not very powerful. Only once red fiber is fully or almost fully recruited, do our bodies add fast twitch fiber to handle the load if necessary. The consequence of this firing order is that white fibers are used much less than red fibers.

EMS / NMES

Muscle recruitment order:

  • Fast Twitch
  • Intermediate Twitch
  • Slow Twitch

EMS training reverses the muscle fiber recruitment ladder, activating the fast twitch fibers first, then the intermediate and lastly the slow twitch. This forces slow and intermediate twitch fibers into shorter recruitment times as priority is given to the fast twitch fibers. This is achieved because the current from the electrical impulses flows more easily through white muscle fibers than through red ones.

Source: http://bionicpulse.co.uk/science-behind-ems-training