At first glance, all portable electrical stimulation units may look alike. The reality is that each type of unit is different, and if you’re thinking about using electrical muscle stimulation you should know what each one does so you get the right result.
The most common electrical stimulation units available for personal and clinical use include TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), PENS (Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and IFT (Inferential Current Therapy). Although TENS, PENS, and IFT modalities are different in many ways, the common thread between all three is that they provide nerve stimuli for pain control.
TENS is the most universally known modality of electrical stimulation. Used widely for pain relief, TENS sends a series of electrical pulses across the skin and along nerve strands. These electrical pulses “distract” the brain from the pain signal, according to the Gate Control Theory. The Gate Control Theory of Pain says that non-painful stimulus or input closes the “gates” to the Central Nervous System, preventing it from feeling any pain. TENS also stimulates an endorphin release, which likewise mitigates pain.
EMS or Electrical Muscle Stimulation may look similar in some ways to TENS, but its goal is different. Using an EMS system targets the muscle activation beyond using the electrical stimuli to distract the Central Nervous System from pain. The programmable options on the PowerDot EMS personal unit provide unique endurance, resistance, and strength training progressions, because their frequencies stimulate the muscles on a level that causes a contraction.
Although TENS may seem like a good option to reduce pain immediately, the long term affects are minimal. If you are looking for a long term solution to increase strength, reduce recovery time, reduce muscle soreness, and prevent injury; you are looking to get your hands on an electrical muscle stimulator. Make sure whichever device you choose to go with is tested and cleared by the FDA to ensure that it is safe for use.