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What Is Muscle Stimulation?

What is Muscle Stimulation?

Muscle stimulation can be used in strengthening weak muscles. It is mainly used in rehabilitation settings, such as in physical therapy. Typically, it has two primary uses, which are muscle re-education and pain relief. 

In many settings where it is employed, there will be a machine present with a sole purpose of supplying electrical current. The wires from this particular machine will then be connected to adhesive patches placed in predetermined areas on the skin surface. Once set, the electrical current gets set to the adhesive patches from the machine, and are delivered to the underlying muscle tissue causing a motor or sensory response. 

Currently, there are two theories on why muscle stimulation can assist in strengthening the weak muscles. They are:

1. When a muscle is contracted maximally, at best, you will find that only about thirty percent of the muscle fibers will be in a contracted state. This means that the remaining seventy percent is in a dormant state waiting for it to be recruited once the contracted muscles have become tired. Using muscle stimulation, you will be able to stimulate all the rested muscle fibers, and this will generally increase your strength. From a clinical approach, stimulation seems to work best when all the muscles are weak, and a person is experiencing difficulties performing anti-gravity related tasks.

2. Another reason as to why it works is because it is based on the recruitment of your nerve rate conduction. Normally, it will require close to ten thousand repetitions for the brain to acquire knowledge on how to send messages to your muscles quickly through the fastest nerve pathways. This is known as the memory engram. It implies that the more frequently you recruit a particular muscle, the easier it becomes for your body to find ways to recruit this muscle. Muscle stimulation has the potential to provide the body with recurrent contractions that help in accelerating the education curve. 

Benefits of Muscle Stimulation 
  • Pain Relief
Muscle stimulation can be used in relieving pain. Stimulation will cause your brain to start releasing the natural painkillers that are found in your body. These are the enkephalins and endorphins. Once released, you get to experience the much-needed relief from pain. 

  • Re-educating the Muscles 
Stimulation can also be applied in re-training of the muscles that may be experiencing problems whenever they need to contract. Even though it can be applied for varied conditions, it is mainly applied to people who have undergone orthopedic surgery or have recently suffered a stroke. In many instances, these patients will have trouble moving their joints or muscles. As such, when an electrical impulse, under the right settings, is sent to such a muscle, it is able to contract without any input from the affected individual. Stimulating the muscles, while encouraging a patient to actively attempt to contract affected muscles may at times enable the brain to start the re-education process on muscle contraction.

  • Wrap Up
As noted above, muscle stimulation comes with many benefits, all of which support its use as an effective muscle re-training, and pain management mechanism. A good thing about the e-stim used in electrical muscle stimulation is that it is not addictive. Machines used in the process are user-friendly and very compact, and as such, can be said to provide an alternative method of pain management. 

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