TENS machine vs EMS Machine

Either a TENS machine or an EMS machine are an excellent alternative for those looking to alleviate pain, for a safe and drug free method of pain relief.  The best part is that you can apply these simple and safe methods of pain relief in your very own home.

Here’s how it works – TENS and EMS machines!

TENS units can be used to overcome chronic pain, or long term injury pain, and you can apply the TENS electrodes while you relax at home.  EMS machines can be used as a supplementary way to enhance your exercise regime, either for elite athletes, or during recovery from injury or surgery.  Whether you need help to get up and about, or whether you want to build muscle to achieve your personal best, EMS and TENS machines are a perfect solution to restore your vitality.


How does a TENS Machines Work?Tens machine

A TENS machine is actually called a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation machine or TENS for short.  This means that an electrical signal is passed under the skin to interact with nerve cells in the body.  Although this may sound risky or painful, in fact the process is perfectly safe, and provides a pain free and drug free way to prevent chronic pain.  Medical professionals have used this process for many years as a safe and painless alternative to medicinal pain relief.

When used in conjunction with traditional methods of pain relief, TENS is a safe and simple way to transition sufferers of chronic pain onto a long term, self managed solution for pain relief.  TENS acts by interrupting or interfering with the transmission of nerve signals from the body to the brain.  If the nerve signals are prevented from reaching the brain, and therefore not received by the brains’ pain recognition center, then the sufferer will no longer experience the painful symptoms.  Long term use of TENS treatment can overcome chronic and long term pain.

How does an EMS Machine Work?Compex Edge Electronic muscle stimulator

EMS machines are actually known as Electrical Muscle Stimulation machines, or EMS for short.  EMS is an advanced muscle development and muscle toning process that complements your current training routine.  EMS is similar to TENS, except that where TENS acts on the nerves, EMS acts directly to stimulate the muscles.

Electronic muscle stimulation can be used to provide a perfectly safe, pain and drug free way to strengthen and rehabilitate the muscles after strenuous exercise or sport.  The EMS is particularly beneficial for athletes and sportspeople who need to rest, relax and recover in between training sessions.  EMS can assist in faster turnaround between intense workout sessions, as well as increasing circulation, remove lactic acid from tired muscles and even provide a massage alternative.  EMS can also be used as a supplementary exercise regime to assist with strengthening weak or injured areas, as there is no stress or strain placed on the joints or tendons.

Where can you apply EMS?

An EMS treatment can be used to accurately target specific areas of the body that you might wish to work on.  For example, you can choose to effectively increase muscle strength, or you could focus on muscle definition, or even keep your body symmetrical if you happen to over-emphasise one side of your body.  Say if you are a right handed tennis player, you can use the EMS treatment to relax and recover your right arm, and use the same EMS machine to build and strengthen your left arm.

EMS settings

EMS applies an electrical signal into your muscles in a repeated frequency that stimulates the muscle to contract, and then release.  This intensity and frequency of muscle contractions can be adjusted to provide different levels of muscle activity, from warm up routines, to toning, strengthening, recovering, healing and massaging, depending on your requirements.

EMS works on the muscles in two ways

When the muscle contracts, not all of the muscle fibers are activated by the contraction.  The remaining muscle fibers are not activated until the working muscle fibers become fatigued. When the working fibers become physically tired then the other parts of the muscle take over.  This is where the EMS treatment is valuable, as it stimulates the whole of the muscle fibers and therefore works the whole muscle at the same time.  An EMS machine session can speed up the muscle development process, and save you time during a workout session.

An EMS machine grows more than just muscles

As well as stimulating the growth of muscles, EMS is also good for the development of nerve connections between the muscles and the brain.  When these pathways are exercised, the nerves make a stronger and more efficient pathway.  A stronger nerve connection allows for more effective muscle reaction time, better strength output, and more effective training routines.  This is where athletes look for a competitive edge, and enhanced performance.


Do I need a TENS Machine

or an EMS Machine?

EMS units and TENS machines can be used in conjunction as a treatment for pain relief and muscle recovery.  As we have discussed previously, the TENS machine is specifically used to interrupt the nerve signals, and EMS for muscle stimulation.  However, the real benefit from long term rehabilitation of chronic pain can often involve a combination of both treatments.

Often chronic pain is the result of muscular tension and stress, such as when the skeletal system is pulled out of alignment by muscle tightness.  The relief of tension may be achieved by a combination of pain relief, followed by massage to relax the muscle, and these combined treatments can fix the underlying problem.

A TENS machine can often be used to alleviate pain in the short term, because it targets the nerve signals.  Subsequently, the EMS treatment can be applied to recovery of the muscles by increasing circulation, and strengthening the core muscles within the body.

Both can be used to treat pain and promote healing, but the main difference is that TENS machines stimulate your nerve endings while EMS machines stimulate your muscles. With TENS machines you are likely to feel relief more immediately because they target the nerves directly, while EMS machines target specific muscle groups to increase blood circulation.

Dr Jo gives an excellent demo of both a TENS unit as well as an EMS machine in this video. It is well worth watching if you want to learn how to use these excellent devices.



TENS vs EMS – In Summary

Both TENS and EMS machines are a very safe and drug free alternative to alleviate pain, soreness and fatigue.  TENS units are excellent for those suffering from chronic long term pain, as an effective way to self manage pain, and to do so in the safety and comfort of your own home.  EMS machines can be used as a supplementary exercise routine for a range of users from elite athletes or those people undergoing rehabilitation and therapy.  A TENS machine and an EMS machine offer a safe and drug free way to recover from pain, to increase strength and to restore physical vitality.



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