By Hammer Nutrition
I get asked quite frequently why I devote so much energy to the promotion of a technology that has yet to be accepted in the U.S., despite its presence for almost ten years. So, I thought I'd share a bit with those of you who are still being vexed by this question. I'm referring to Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS), aka neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). Whatever you call it, it's a truly amazing technology housed in a convenient, portable, handheld device that can literally change your life. It did mine, and that's why I'm a believer and the leading promoter, despite the fact that I have better things to do that are far more lucrative. Putting it bluntly, I don't need to promote these technologies or devices; we make almost nothing on their sale, once the expenses incurred in promotion and demonstration are calculated in. Here's a little more background that may help to explain why I'm a cheerleader for EMS.
It all started back in the early 2000s. As many of you know, I'm addicted to riding bikes in Italy and France with my adopted families over there. Round about 2001, I noticed that many of my friends had these little devices with cables that they would attach to their legs and make them jump as if they were being "shocked." Of course, I inquired about what they were doing and got to use one a few times, and noticed that my legs felt significantly better the next day, every time I used it. At that time, it was intriguing, but since these machines were not available in the U.S., that was as far as it went. Then, in January 2004, I ruptured L4 and L5 in my back from a combination of structural/neural damage, heavy stress, and an unfortunate run-in with a snowblower. These injuries were actually small tears; with a few months of PT and rest, I should have been good to go, but I wasn't - nothing would alleviate my constant back spasms. For more than a year, I took to lying on the floor of my office with a laptop propped on my knees. It seems that I had severe neural inhibition in specific muscle groups resulting from repeated concussions in my younger years. Then EMS came to the U.S. and I began using it on my spinal erectors for decontracture and on my abs using the Strength program. I immediately began achieving results that I had not seen with conventional rehab. Within six weeks, I was at my desk 8+ hours a day and riding pain-free!
At the same time, I saw that the companies attempting to market this technology and associated products were completely clueless. You have to experience it to believe it, which requires education and very labor-intensive post-event demonstrations. They wanted none of this - that's not how Madison Ave. works - but their approach to marketing didn't work, so today the technology remains one of the big mysteries and untapped advantages for endurance athletes. Below are some of the salient points that I believe make this technology/product, a must-have for every athlete, from hard core to weekend warrior, strength to ultra distance.
Here are my "5 Big Reasons Why You MUST Start Using EMS":
1. Muscular recovery - Using the Active Recovery, Recovery Plus, and/or Massage programs is like getting the best sports leg rub you can imagine, flushing out all of the acid and waste-filled blood and recharging the muscle with fresh, clean, oxygen-rich blood. EMS does this as good or better than any massage therapists in the world. The convenience of having access to these benefits whenever you have time makes the device worth its price two or three times over.
2. Muscle strength imbalances - We are all asymmetrical, having one leg or arm that is stronger than the other. Over time, these imbalances can lead to ingrained pathologies resulting in pain and discomfort in the hips and low back. Using conventional methods, there is almost no way to correct these imbalances without risking further injury - except with EMS. By using the Resistance or Strength programs, you can not only identify, numerically no less, the differential between two muscle groups, but you can correct it by increasing the input levels on the weaker muscle. This is totally unique, justifying the price in and of itself.
3. Reversing neural inhibition - Believe it or not, most or all of us have some degree of neural inhibition somewhere in our body. It is a lingering effect from injuries and surgeries. From my personal experience and after working with countless athletes applying EMS over the past eight years, I have not found another method for reversing it, let alone one as effective as EMS. It's always fun when I do an EMS demonstration on an athlete; just by seeing how their muscles respond, I can almost always tell whether they are right-side or left-side dominant, and whether or not they've had a major injury to either or both legs, knees, hips, back, etc.
4. Changing your muscles, for the better - One of the more fascinating and controversial aspects of EMS is increasing muscle fiber recruitment. You've probably heard that even world-class athletes utilize far less than 100% of their muscle fibers in any given muscle, an estimated range from 30- 40% to no more than 70-80%. On top of that, each muscle has a percentage of slow twitch and fast twitch fiber that will determine whether they are more naturally suited to being a strength or endurance athlete. We've also been told that there is no way to change these numbersuntil now, by using either strength- or endurance-orientated programs (technically, hertz ranges< 50 reach type I slow twitch fibers and> 50 reach type II fast twitch fibers), you can actually increase recruitment of type II muscle fibers, which will in turn help with your sprint, kick, and other similar movements. Likewise, focusing on the endurance programs allows for increased recruitment of type I slow twitch fibers, which will help with endurance.
5. Lower back/neck stiffness - In this modern world where we sit for most of the day and then sit some more on the bike, aches, pains, and stiffness in the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine are almost universal. If you or your partner regularly experience this discomfort, you've got to get on the EMS plan. The Massage program will change your life, and you can do it anytime that you have 30 minutes to sit or lie in one place.
I have no doubt whatsoever that you could benefit from at least three of the above mentioned reasons. EMS is what you need - just do it. HN