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Electrical Stimulation and It’s Impact On Muscle Recovery

Electrical stimulation is a process that has the ability to impact how efficiently muscles bounce back after a tough workout. In some cases it may even be able to repair injuries. Many athletes integrate it into their training routine as a way to strengthen their muscles, as well as aid in recovery. It is a relatively easy way to send extra support to the muscles, since all it entails is placing electrodes on to the skin and relaxing as they stimulate the muscles they are attached to. This way to improve muscle tissue is especially beneficial since it is a low impact way for the body to heal.

This electrical stimulation works by mimicking the effects of a deep tissue massage. It improves blood flow, which reduces recovery time after a work out. During vigorous exercise the capillaries in the body constrict, making it really difficult for blood cells to disperse throughout the muscles as they should. This can increase the chances of injury. Through electrical stimulation, that blood flow can be beneficial in acute recovery, as well as aid in recovery between workouts. Using a mechanical device to help stimulate blood flow enables the heart to pump blood specifically through the areas of the body that are either injured or are on the presuppose of being injured.

Since there is some debate over the competency of electrical stimulation, recently a group of researchers reviewed various studies from the years 1970 through 2012 that related to the issue. In that time frame, thirteen studies were found that tested electrical stimulation on humans (rather than animals) that examined how efficient the device was at improving soreness, repairing damaged muscles and enhancing athletic performance.

According to these studies, the electrical stimulation did have a positive impact on the human muscles. Patients claimed that their soreness levels were reduced by the treatments more than if they were to have just waited it out. This was scientifically backed when researchers found that the blood lactate levels were reduced more in patients who used electrical stimulation than those who passively recovered by letting the muscles rest. It was also equally as beneficial as getting a deep tissue massage when it came to enhancing muscle performance since electrical stimulation has the ability to clear out metabolic waste from the body. 

Judging from the studies, researchers did conclude that electrical stimulation may act as a viable way to supplement a muscle recovery program. It is able to improve the blood flow in the body by using electricity to stimulate the muscles. However, there may be risks involved due to the many variables that change from person to person, such as how much stimulation is needed and how strong the electrical current has to be in order to get results. Researchers speculate that too much stimulation may actually cause more pain or damage the muscle. Due to the potential risks involved with electrical stimulation, it is important to discuss treatment with your doctor before implementing it into your recovery program.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Morten Skovgaard

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