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History of Electro Muscle Stimulation

Michael Faraday
1791 – 1867
The history of (EMS) Electro Muscle Stimulation is quite interesting because it goes all the way back to 2500 B.C. which was the time of the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty.

Although electricity as we know it was thousands of years from existence, the Egyptians discovered an electric fish that could be used in the treatment of pain.

Records also show that in 46 A.D. the Mesopotamian physician Scribonious Largus prescribed the “Seashore Treatment” for patients who suffered from acute pain.

For the treatment, the patient placed a foot on a species of fish which used mild electricity as defence (the electric eel) and the other foot on wet sand thus completing the electric circuit.

The first scientific evidence that current can activate muscle was provided by Luigi Galvani (1791).

During the 19th and 20th century researchers studied and documented the exact electrical properties that generate muscle movement.

It was discovered that the body functions induced by electrical stimulation caused long-term changes in the muscles.

The first passive slimming machine using the Faradic current was invented by Michael Faraday in the 1920's.

The current was initially used for Physio Therapy, tightening and toning the muscles.

It wasn't until 1965 when "Pain Mechanism: A New Theory," a paper by Ronald Melzack and Patrick David Wall that was written after a tremendous amount of research, revealed the benefits of electricity used as therapy to the people of today.

For many years the medical profession has been aware of the therapeutic value of EMS in helping to restore and re-educate muscles which have been damaged and in the toning of flabby tissue therefore greatly improving body shape.

The use of the Faradic current stimulates exercise by contracting and relaxing the motor points of the muscle, without being physically active.

Proudly Used by Olympians and Professional Athletes

Olympic athletes and body builders have been utilising EMS to enhance their training for over 20 years increasing muscle tone, strength, endurance also relieving spasms and fluid retention.

Decades ago Eastern European Olympic contenders used EMS technology to help boost their results in achieving bigger, stronger muscles.

Now EMS technology has reached the West and athletes of all kinds use EMS for strengthening as well as for recovery or repair.

The Medical Advisory Committee has allowed the use of E.M.S. systems by athletes since the 1972 Olympics.

Professional athletes, physiotherapist, sports doctors, and chiropractors use EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation to supplement their regular workout routines or aid in the repair & recovery of muscles.

Why · How · When Apply EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation

Normal Exercise

Normal physical exercise is controlled by the brain, which acts similar to a computer. It monitors sensory input and recall from memory to compute and send motor nerve messages to the muscles.

Fast traveling, high frequency, action potential impulse rate motor messages activate skeletal muscles.

Skeletal muscles are attached to bones across joints, causing joints to move the body.

Slow traveling, low frequency, action potential impulse rate motor messages activate visceral muscles located within viscera and blood vessels in order to make body organs work and increase the carrying capacity of blood vessels.

Progressive increases of application time of EMS enables

  • Aerobic and Anaerobic conditioning of the muscles.

  • The conditioning of heart and lungs functions due to aerobic exercise.
    This enables individuals to work longer without tiring.

  • To increase the capacity to work, muscle-stretching exercises are used to increase length or pull.

  • To increase the strength of the pull, repetitive training exercise is required.

  • Stretching also helps to prevent internal muscle tension from rupturing muscle and tendon tissue.

Natural Exercise and EMS

Work performed by muscles is measured by the strength of the pull of muscles (contraction power), the length of pull of the muscle and the time in which the work is performed:

  • Contraction power is gained by anaerobic exercise.

  • Length of muscular pull is gained by aerobic exercise and by stretching the muscles and increasing the flexibility of joints.

Exercise and Bone Density

Increasing the strength of muscles is directly proportional to the increase in bone thickness.

Increase in general bone density and joint strengthening is also proportional to the workload performed.

Exercise and Circulatory Flow

Muscular exercise substantially increases the general and micro circulatory flow to, from and within the muscles.

Exercise provides a supply of nutrients and oxygen to the body, as well as the removal of lactic acid and carbon dioxide.

Exercise and Cellular Activity

All exercise increases the bio-electrical activity across muscle cells.
This causes increased Ionization across the cell walls, which supply and removes the products that maintain muscular exercise.

The increase in vascular flow that occurs is also beneficial in hastening the healing processes.

How the Body Uses Electricity


Electrical Muscle Exercise

EMS is the application of electricity in the form of trains of minuscule pulse charges, which activate exercise in both skeletal and visceral muscle.

EMS causes skeletal and visceral muscles to work and may also be used to pass nutrients, waste products and gases across cell walls.

The body uses minuscule amounts of electricity in two ways:


To pass currents across cell walls by way of ionization particles, which causes nutrients and waste products to pass to and from the cells.

To generate changing electrical potentials.

These potentials travel in nerve fibres to initiate and maintain body functions.

For EMS to clone the actions of the body’s natural neural impulses, they are introduced in pulse trains, at the body’s natural functional frequencies (rate).


The 3 Muscle Types of The Body

Skeletal Muscle

This is the most commonly known type of muscle.

They are the muscles attached to our bones that move the body in accordance with our brain's control.

These muscles are very easy to exercise using EMS.

The results of EMS in building muscle strength and stamina are often compared to the physical activities of weight lifting and running.

Visceral Muscle

These are the hidden muscles of the body located in the gut, bowel, body organs and the blood vessels.

Visceral muscles are controlled by the demand requirements of the body.

Visceral muscles are operated at low frequency and therefore low frequency has been included as an operational setting of EMS.

EMS now allows control over healing, pain management and relaxation, which was not previously possible.

Cardiac Muscle

Cardiac muscle is a special high demand muscle that never stops working.

Such muscles include the heart, liver and kidneys.

It is not possible to will these muscles to work quicker, but they will readily work harder when required.

The Multiple uses of EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation

Body Toning and Shaping


EMS - Electro Muscle Stimulation has been successfully used to improve body strength and body shape.

For many years the medical profession has been aware of the therapeutic value of Electro Muscle Stimulation in helping to restore and re-educate muscles, which have been damaged and in the toning of flabby tissue therefore greatly improving body shape!

Experts believe that a 30-45 minute session using electro muscle stimulation is equal to a 6-8 hour gym workout.

Take for example the stomach muscles the ‘Bel Viso Body Bar’ EMS BODY TONING machine can perform 1200 different movements per hour, whereas the average person could only do about 50 sit-ups per session.


Bel Viso Body Bar's  EFA Facial Toning

This specially designed hand held attachment EFA Electronic Facial Attachment harnesses the strength of EMS Faradic Current allowing you to smooth, lift and firm the deeper muscles of the cheeks, jaw-line, neck and décolletage, while increasing oxygen and blood flow to the muscles and the skin.

The light tingling sensation you experience leaves your skin feeling totally exhilarated and alive.

This attachment comes with the Bel Viso Body Bar's Facelift 2 machines and can also be used with any of our EMS Body toning machines for salons and home-use as an added benefit.

Sports Training

EMS may be used as an adjunct to sports strength development if it is used in the same way as weight training.

As a supplement to a routine of normal training EMS can develop strength in joints and muscles.

EMS may also be used to strengthen a weakness that is present as a result of a residual problem or to improve the general aerobic and anaerobic fitness of an athlete.

Injury Prevention

EMS is used for strengthening and toning muscles to prevent injury.

For instance, it can strengthen the legs muscle groups to give stability and help prevent injury or recurring injuries to the knees and ankles.

Prevention of Fitness Loss

The application of EMS to specific muscle groups can maintain the muscle tone during inactive time periods.

Strengthening Weak Muscles

Electro Muscle Stimulation, whilst improving the strength and stamina of the muscles, automatically pumps the blood and mobilizes muscles and joints.



Electro Muscle Stimulation can be used to overcome the effects of a severe injury or illness.

EMS Following Injury

Injured muscles rapidly deteriorate if unused.

An important aspect of rehabilitation is the strengthening of these weakened muscles.

The strengthening process comes from slowly increasing the workload on the muscles throughout the rehabilitation period.

Precise control of muscle contractions is possible using most EMS devices.

Over a period of weeks, as the injury recovers, the workload is increased.

However, instead of lifting more weights or doing more repetitions, EMS can be applied to increase the intensity and induce stronger contractions.

It is important to induce a level of muscular exercise that is within the range of comfort.

This range will increase as the strength of the muscle increases.

Keep in mind the analgesic effect of EMS as well.

EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation and the Elderly

Loss of Strength and  Loss of Balance

As people age, they settle into a more sedative life style, which leads to the progressive onset of fragility and a loss of tone and strength in muscle power.

This loss of strength may exceed 50% of the strength present during adolescence and early adult life and this loss affects a person’s mobility and balance.

The loss of strength may curtail their social and other home activities.

Loss of balance can also lead to falls and other injuries, which could be as serious as a broken hip.

EMS applied to the large hip, buttock and thigh muscles can reverse the onset of fragility, by enabling the elderly to regain the tone and strength of these anti-gravity teams of muscles.

Every nursing home or retirement village should have at least on EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation body toning machine for their guests’ health and wellbeing.

Rehabilitation of Incontinence

Stress and urge incontinence may be effectively rehabilitated using a course of EMS Electro Muscle Stimulation to strengthen both the visceral and skeletal muscle of the pelvic floor and the organs of the pelvis.

^References: William James Lamers. Victorian Registered Physiotherapist

Copyright 1999 - Published by: TENS Pain Management Centre. Australia




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