Learning about electrostimulation


Electrical muscle stimulation or EMS provides muscle workout without fatigue.This system does not involve the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and keeps stress in the tendons to a minimum.

Electrostimulation and physical activity

Electrostimulation is a method included by muscle building enthusiasts in their muscle volume gain techniques, particularly in the health and fitness world.

Among endurance athletes, the motivations are different: the objective is to ensure maximal muscular strength increase by causing muscular hypertrophy and maximal power gain.

Used after a workout, electrostimulation promotes recovery by eliminating muscle wastes, restructuring tired muscle fibres, and removing post-workout inflammatory factors and therefore reduces soreness and relaxes the muscles.

Electrostimulation thus has a natural place in these performance requirements, in order to optimise muscle preparation, but also to facilitate passive and active recovery

Role of electrostimulation

Electrostimulation strengthens muscle tonus, firms and tones them up and allows body shaping. It helps fight against orange peel skin (cellulitis). It plays a role against pain when using a type of stimulation called "TENS" (this type of current is also used in physiotherapy by masso-kinesitherapists)

Why using electrostimulation in the recovery phase?

An athlete may need to display a significant level of efforts to achieve physical capacity development or for aerobic training, in order to reach a performance or complete a marathon in less than 3 hours. The time devoted to training has significantly increased over the past years to leave less and less room for off-time and recovery.

This is why the higher the volume and intensity of the training load, the more the recovery time should be optimised.

The use of electrical stimulation, which has been studied since the 70s as part of muscular units development, therefore naturally became a time-saving technique allowing the passive work of motor units. The sporting and fitness world quickly took up the muscular and relaxing properties of electrostimulation.

The overall effects of this technique are therefore compatible with the specific athlete requirements as part of appropriate recovery, but the nature, intensity, frequency, impulse area and type of current provide effects on muscle relaxation, recovery, strength, contractility, and pain reduction.

So it takes some knowledge of the required technique to appropriately use the programs for an optimal use of your electrostimulation device


However, if the objective is recovery optimisation, or even muscle preparation, artificial muscle stimulation techniques (electrostimulation) and standard physical techniques (muscle building, muscle strength, stretches) should be combined as part of performance optimisation or recovery.


Docteur Patrick Bacquaert

Médecin chef de l'IRBMS

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Electrostimulation devices include a current generator. The type, quality and number of programmes offered and the displays are elements to consider before the purchase, because there are tolerability differences between generators.