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Electro Muscle Stimulation

Yesterday, one of my Google+ friends shared a video of ultrarunner Kilian Jornet.  Other than being completely amazed by his approach to running and how eloquently he spoke about the sport, I was very curious to know more about one of the recovery methods he was using.  Here is the video so you can see what I’m referring to.  It’s right around minute 5:35 but I highly recommend watching the entire video.

After typing in many different search terms into Google and trying to figure out what this was called, I finally figured out to type “Kilian Jornet electrodes” and got exactly what I was looking for.  He was using electro muscle stimulation.  This was far beyond my knowledge of foam rollers and The Stick for injury prevention so tonight I’m asking…

What is electrostimulation and why is it good for athletes?

Electro muscle stimulation is when electrodes are placed close to certain muscles and deliver low electrical currents throughout the body.  It is thought that this muscle stimulation has great benefits for athletes such as relieving pain, helping with recovery, relieving stress, and increasing range of motion.  It is also suggested the ES can help athletes improve their performance after reaching a plateau.  I looked through a few studies on the effectiveness of ES, and  their findings concluded that ES  is actually quite effective in increasing muscle strength, performance, and helping with injury prevention.  Electro muscle stimulation works by using different programs, or patterns of stimulation, to train different muscle fibers.  Different patterns of electrostimulation can help improve fatigue resistance (in other words, more endurance) while others can increase muscle power.

The FDA regulates the distribution of electrostimulators.  You can buy them over the counter or you can get a prescription.  An EMS that you purchase OTC can only legally claim that it helps with muscle toning.  A prescription device, however, can claim to help with muscle spasms, range of motion, and blood circulation.  I looked online to see how much these devices cost, and the price can vary greatly.  Some cost $60 while others cost $850.  I’m pretty sure this is not something I’ll be investing into any time soon, but it was certainly interesting to learn about.  Maybe I’ll find a friend who has one I can try out =)


Here is a video that describes how to use an EMS device:



I hope everyone has a great Friday evening and a safe weekend of running and racing!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lacy Nyahay #

    Muscle spams can be quite annoying. I would usually take OTC pain killers to manage it. Some light stretching would also do some great stuff on muscle spasms.'”:,”


    August 23, 2012

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