Muscle electrostimulator (EMS) Does it work

Muscle electrostimulation (EMS) has become popular in recent decades.

In particular, electrodes have been touted as a method that works to burn fat. EMS packages are sold in fitness centers to supplement training routines and are supposed to improve results. Unfortunately, this is not entirely true.

This article analyzes the effects and contraindications of muscle electro-stimulators (EMS) with the scientific evidence that supports them. The objective: is to determine if they work or not.

// Recommended: How to lose weight? – Methods that do work

EMS muscle stimulator – What is it?

A muscle electrostimulation (EMS) is an electronic device that allows muscles to be stimulated by sending electrical signals through electrodes.

EMS works with electrical energy, and the electrodes can stimulate the muscular system so that it undergoes contractions. While this is real, the effects of EMS in toning the muscles are low. (1,2,3)

Electroestimulador word comes from the acronym EMS ( Electrical Muscle Stimulation). EMS equipment providers (such as Bodytec, Beauty Body, innovative fitness, Miha, TEEX, etc.) promise to mark abdominal muscles in 20-minute sessions. However, this is not entirely true.

Expecting that the abs will be marked with electrostimulation in the abdominal region is an illusion.

According to studies, EMS works solely for muscle recovery as a treatment to prevent muscle loss (sarcopenia of chronic severe diseases).

EMS intelligent devices can also be used for incontinence treatment, physical therapy, or muscle toning after certain types of cancer. (4, 5, 6)

Muscle electrostimulation Does it work?

An electro stimulator works, yes. But not for weight loss or abs.

Initially, EMS electro fitness devices were cataloged with “weight loss device.” However, consumer regulators immediately rejected this designation.

They were certified as a suitable device for treating muscle atrophy and the elimination of spasms. (2) They do not work as a device to achieve muscle growth or lose weight.

Only the suppliers claim that the muscle stimulator works for weight loss. Only the people who are dedicated to the commercialization of said products; or receive dividends for promoting their activity are those that ensure good results.

A fitness professional will always favor an abdominal routine over muscle electrostimulation or any electrodes. Both to burn fat and to tone muscles.

Regarding muscle recovery, electrodes can be considered an effective method. However, the results are lower than other methods such as exercises with Foam Roller or myofascial release.

If your goal is to lose weight, the first thing to do is limit simple carbohydrates in your diet. The electrostimulation method may look promising. However, the results in toning the muscles are minimal.

Muscle electrostimulation does not work to lose weight or to mark the abs

One area of ​​the EMS electro fitness device manufacturers is exclusively dedicated to electro stimulator belts for the abdomen. Advertising campaigns promise to reduce abdominal fat in a localized way.

As well as other benefits, for example, that electro stimulators work to eliminate cellulite.

The effectiveness of muscle electro-stimulators has only been proven in totally sedentary people, with difficulties in walking or with severe disorders in the muscular system. (4.5)

flat and marked abdomen is achieved with a low-calorie diet and regular training sessions.

The benefits of the muscle electro stimulator are:

  • Stimulate damaged muscle fibers
  • It works as a preventive treatment of muscle mass in people with sarcopenia
  • Works as an incontinence treatment
  • Recovery of mobility in certain types of cancer

Muscle electrostimulation – contraindications and side effects

The use of muscle electrostimulation equipment is not for everyone. The use of electro stimulators or electrodes is only recommended for medical purposes and always under the supervision of a health professional. (7) The contraindications and side effects of EMS are:

1. Dermatological disorders

The use of a muscle stimulator can cause skin irritation. EMS is contraindicated in cases of ecsema, acne, and pustules on the skin.

2. Wounds or bleeding on the skin

Using electrodes in areas with wounds or bleeding on the skin may result in a longer healing time. Injuries on the skin can be intensified under the use of EMS electrodes.

3. Allergy to the electrode material

Some people are sensitive to the material in which the electrodes are made, such as polyacrylate or petrolatum. (10) Before starting an EMS session, do a skin test.

4. People with pacemakers or electronic implants

Using muscle electrostimulation in people with pacemakers or electronic implants is prohibited. This is because there may be an interference between the electrical energy and the implants, generating errors in their operation.

5. Pregnant women

The side effects of EMS use on the fetus have not yet been established. As a preventive measure, research prohibits electro-stimulators in pregnant women. (6,7,8)

6. Chronic heart disease

One of the contraindications of EMS is its use with people who have heart problems. It should never be used in the thoracic area or near the carotid artery in these cases. This is because using a muscle stimulator can cause excessive vasodilation and decrease the heart rate. (9)

7. Cancer – cancer treatments

The use of EMS in areas close to malignant tumors is contraindicated. The electro stimulator is strictly prohibited for people undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment.

8. In areas with metals – piercings or therapeutic implants

Metal is a good conductor of electricity. The electrical energy of the electrodes can intensify and cause pain effects if applied in areas close to piercings, such as therapeutic implants (knee, hip, etc.)

EMS – Does it work, or is it a waste of money?

Manufacturers of electro fitness equipment and devices have been penalized multiple times for including advertising containing false promises.

These misleading commercials claim that electrostimulation is a replacement for strength training and works to sculpt “a steel abdomen without effort or sweat” (3).

However, the effects of muscle electro-stimulators have only been proven in people with diseases in the muscular system. If you want to mark the abdomen, the EMS does not work.

Origin of the electrodes – muscle electrostimulation

The origin of muscle electrostimulation dates back to the 18th century. Luigi Galvany discovered that muscle contraction occurred after the impulse of an electrical current.

To verify this fact, he carried out a series of experiments with the spinal cords of frogs. In later years, these experiments were replicated in different university centers worldwide, where the integrity of their effects was verified (4).

This technique was created for medical purposes. That is, not to be used for cosmetic purposes to tone muscles. But as a special rehabilitation for people with disorders in muscle tissue.

Currently, EMS devices are used in fitness centers to complement physical exercise to tone, although their effectiveness has been undervalued. According to the scientific community, they are not helpful.

Today, EMS equipment that we know as muscle electrostimulation first appeared in the United States in the late 1990s.

The manufacturers tried that the method of muscular electrostimulation had the most significant possible credibility. However, the scientists refuted his theory. In the attempt to certify their equipment, they were unsuccessful.


The EMS or muscle electro stimulator is a device capable of stimulating muscle contraction with electrodes.

It was initially used to treat diseases associated with the muscular system.

Current studies suggest that the effects of EMS on muscle toning are minimal. So they do not work to mark abs.

The contraindications of electrostimulation are various. Its use is not indicated for people with dermatological problems, heart problems, pregnant women, and any metal under the skin.

The effects of the electro fitness EMS are low. They do not serve to lose weight. Eating healthily and exercising are the best way to lose weight.

If you are thinking of investing in a sports accessory to stimulate your performance in sports, heart rate monitors are a better option.

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