Electrical muscle stimulation is a treatment used in chiropractic services. In this treatment, electric currents travel through select groups of muscles to force them to contract. The process has been shown to promote health, particularly when individuals are recovering from injuries. Many professional athletes use electrical muscle stimulation devices to help with recovery following an injury. It is important for individuals to understand the way the device works to make sure they operate it safely. Muscle contractions can also be beneficial for individuals who have limited voluntary movement in parts of their body. Some runners use electrical muscle stimulation techniques to help their bodies recover after a long run instead of utilizing them for physical therapy.
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Prevent Muscle Atrophy
Studies have shown electrical muscle stimulation devices can help prevent muscle atrophy, which occurs when an individual's muscles waste away due to disuse. This often happens when individuals are injured, since they need to let their injured body part rest during the healing process. It's also common in patients with chronic pain problems that cause limited mobility. Patients with nervous system problems may experience muscle atrophy because their nervous system isn't communicating fully with their muscular system. In paraplegic individuals, the ability to move the paralyzed body part is partially or totally cut off. The low current levels in an electrical muscle stimulation device cause weak muscles to contract. This stimulation is essential to keeping inactive muscles healthy.
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Improves Physical Rehabilitation
If an individual is injured, they should seek the guidance of their physician before using electrical muscle stimulation devices independently. Different injuries have different healing needs, and it's important to avoid accidentally aggravating an injury through electric currents. With that said, electrical muscle stimulation improves physical rehabilitation in many injuries sustained by athletes. The electrical stimulation encourages blood to flow into the injured area. Blood is full of oxygen and important nutrients to build muscles back up. In addition to the improved blood flow, regular electrical muscle stimulation therapy has the same basic results as light exercise. The muscles contract, which causes them to build back tone and strength. Some patients use electrical muscle stimulation techniques as a stepping stone to more involved physical therapy exercises. Furthermore, the process strengthens the nervous system's connection with the muscles. With the nervous system on board, patients can progress to more difficult exercises more quickly.
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Prevents The Development Of Pressure Sores
One of the most important benefits for individuals with limited movement is electrical muscle stimulation prevents the development of pressure sores. Pressure sores are damaged parts of the skin that form in places that withstand too much pressure. When individuals stay in one position for a long period, their weight rests on certain pressure points throughout their body. Failing to adjust position means the skin, muscles, and bones bear the weight for too long. Pressure sores are most commonly experienced by individuals who are bedridden, who can't change their positions, and wheelchair users. The risk can be mitigated by using pillows to relieve pressure, but some individuals may still struggle. With electrical muscle stimulation, the muscles tense and contract rapidly enough to prevent the body from 'settling.' This solution is especially ideal for individuals who cannot tolerate exercise due to fatigue or pain. If patients do develop pressure sores, they should be treated as soon as possible. The more advanced the sores get, the longer they take to heal.
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Relieves Muscle Pain And Discomfort
Electrical muscle stimulation relieves muscle pain and discomfort. Studies have shown patients who use these techniques experience physical results similar to massage therapy. With massage therapy, the muscles are kneaded until they release tension and built-up acid. The process also encourages blood flow. When an individual uses electrical muscle stimulation, the contracting and releasing of their muscles creates the same effect. Muscles contract and then release their tension, leading to a more relaxed feeling overall. Since the process also encourages blood flow the same way light exercise does, patients experience relief in their aching and sore muscles. Some practitioners argue these physical health benefits are comprehensive enough to lower the body's stress levels.
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Reduces The Occurrence Of Muscle Spasms
Electrical muscle stimulation reduces the occurrence of muscle spasms. When skeletal muscles spasm, it's usually because of an electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, muscle fatigue, or overuse. For this reason, individuals who experience frequent muscle spasms should first make sure they're properly hydrated. Athletes commonly experience muscle spasms after they go through a particularly difficult workout. By helping the muscles 'cool down,' electrical muscle stimulation techniques help mitigate spasms caused by overuse. In addition, the practice reduces edema, otherwise known as the gathering of excess fluid around the muscle. It's common for muscles to swell with fluid after a rough workout, but electrical muscle stimulation disperses the fluid and relieves swelling. This makes it a popular choice for long-distance runners whose legs and feet swell after a long period of high-impact exercise.