myosesh Myotherapy What is EMS? and difference between TENS and EMS

What is EMS? and difference between TENS and EMS

EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. It is also called Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES). This is often used to strengthen muscle and activate the muscle I early phase of training.

It has been said that we can only utilize roughly 30% of the muscle when we exercise, then the rest is waiting until contracting fibres get fatigued. Even athletes use approximately 35% of muscle fibre.

Difference between TENS machine and EMS

EMS contracts the muscle to help muscle firing weak and unused muscle while TENS machine sends message (electrical current) to the nerve to trick the brain so that pain ceases for a while.

Because of the different purpose of use, electrodes of EMS place on the same muscle (origin and insertion)

TEMS machine does not contract the muscle

How does EMS work?

EMS is designed to stimulate and the muscle by electrical current. According to TENS machine maker such as omron and the original TENS units, EMS is used to reduce swelling and inflammation and to strengthen muscle.

 Also, EMS may reduce muscle spasms and oedema and improve blood flow.

When to use EMS?

  • Weak muscle that needs to strengthen
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Muscle pain (strained muscle)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Poor blood circulation

Do abs pads or stimulators work?

You probably have seen an advertisement as to ab pads or stimulators. Basically, you put some pads on abdominal muscle and get a machine to contract the muscle. As you keep on doing it, you will get 6 pack abs. Although article*3 shows that EMS on abdominal muscle increased muscle strength, endurance and tone, the other group did not exercise.

And just because muscle gets firmer and toned, does not mean you can lift a lot heavier weight. Therefore, it is effective to use this in early stage of rehab or exercise.


  1. The original TENS unit
  2. OMRON Transcutaneous electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) vs Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)
  3. John P. Porcari, Jennifer Miller, Kelly Cornwell, Carl Foster, Mark Gibson, Karen Mclean and Tom kernozek The Effects of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Training on Abdominal Strength, endurance and Selected anthropometric Measures 2005 J Sports Science Medicine 4(1) 66-75

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