Electrical Stimulation: How It's used in Physical Therapy

Electrical Stimulation

If you are looking for a way to lose weight, you may have heard of electrical stimulation devices that claim to help you burn fat, tone your muscles, and get "rock-hard" abs. But do these devices really work? And are they safe to use? In this blog post, we will explore the science behind electrical stimulation, its benefits and limitations, and some tips on how to use it effectively.

Is Electrical Stimulation Effective for Weight Loss?

What is Electrical Stimulation?

Electrical stimulation, also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) or Electromyostimulation, is a protocol that elicits a muscle contraction using electric impulses that directly stimulate your motor neurons. An electrical stimulation unit (like a Powerdot, Compex, Tone-A-Matic, or MarcPro) is a device that delivers this in the comfort of your own home.

This stimulation creates muscle contractions that can be quick and frequent, fast with long pauses, or contractions that are held for several (uncomfortable) seconds or minutes at a time. Normally, it is your body that fires your muscles by sending electrical impulses from your brain through your central nervous system (CNS).

Electrical Stimulation device

But an Electrostimulation device allows you to engage in deep, intense, and complete muscular contractions without actually activating (or stressing) your CNS not to mention your joints and tendons.

The coolest thing is that your body doesn’t know the difference between a voluntary contraction and an electrically stimulated one. Your (silly) body only recognizes that there is a stimulus and reacts to it accordingly.

How Does Electrical Stimulation Help with Weight Loss?

Electrical stimulation can help with weight loss in two ways: by increasing muscle mass and by improving muscle recovery.

Muscle mass is important for weight loss because it increases your metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories at rest. Muscle also takes up less space than fat, so you look leaner and more toned.

Electrical stimulation can help you build muscle by providing an additional stimulus to your muscles that complements your regular exercise routine. Studies have shown that electrical stimulation can enhance the strength and performance of trained and elite athletes, as well as increase the muscle size and endurance of healthy individuals.

Muscle recovery is also crucial for weight loss because it allows you to train harder and more frequently without getting injured or overtrained. Electrical stimulation can help you recover faster by increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and relaxing muscle tension.

Studies have shown that Electrostimulation can reduce muscle soreness, improve muscle function, and prevent muscle atrophy after exercise or injury.

What are the Limitations of Electrical Stimulation?

Electrical stimulation is not a magic bullet for weight loss. It has some limitations that you need to be aware of before using it.

First of all, electrical stimulation alone will not make you lose weight. You still need to follow a balanced diet and a regular exercise program that includes both cardio and resistance training. Electrical stimulation is meant to supplement your workout, not replace it. It can help you achieve better results faster, but it cannot do all the work for you.

Secondly, electrical stimulation is not suitable for everyone. It can be contraindicated for people with pacemakers, metal implants or medical conditions such as cancer. It can also cause skin irritation, burns, or shocks if used improperly or excessively. You should always consult your doctor before using an electrical stimulation device, especially if you have any health issues or concerns.

Thirdly, electrical stimulation can be uncomfortable or painful if used at high intensities or for long durations. You should always start with low settings and gradually increase them as you get used to the sensation.

You should also follow the instructions of the device manufacturer and avoid placing the electrodes on sensitive areas such as the face, neck, chest, or genitals.

How to Use Electrical Stimulation Effectively?

If you decide to use electrical stimulation for weight loss, here are some tips on how to use it effectively:

Choose a device that suits your needs and budget. There are many types of electrical stimulation devices on the market, ranging from simple pads to sophisticated wireless units. You should look for a device that has multiple programs, adjustable intensities, and easy-to-use controls. You should also check the battery life, warranty, and customer reviews of the device before buying it.

Use the device regularly but moderately. You should use the device at least 2-3 times per week for optimal results. However, you should not use it more than once per day or for longer than 30 minutes per session. You should also take breaks between sessions and avoid using the device on consecutive days. Overusing the device can cause muscle fatigue, damage, or adaptation.

Optimizing Fitness: Integrating Device Usage with Exercise and Diet for Effective Results

Use the device in conjunction with exercise and diet. You should use the device before, during, or after your exercise session, depending on your goals and preferences.

For example, you can use the device before your workout to warm up your muscles, during your workout to enhance your performance, or after your workout to speed up your recovery. You should also use the device in combination with a healthy diet that is low in calories, fat, and sugar, and high in protein, fiber, and water.

Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly. You should track your weight, body fat percentage, waist circumference, and muscle strength regularly to see if the device is working for you.

You should also adjust the settings of the device as you progress, such as increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of the stimulation. You should also experiment with different programs, electrodes, and body parts to find what works best for you.


Electrical stimulation can be an effective tool for weight loss if used correctly and safely. It can help you increase your muscle mass and improve your muscle recovery, which can boost your metabolism and enhance your physique.

However, electrical stimulation is not a miracle cure for weight loss. You still need to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and a regular exercise routine. Electrical stimulation is meant to support your weight loss journey, not replace it.


Filipovic A., Kleinöder H., Dörmann U., Mester J. (2012). Electromyostimulation--a systematic review of the influence of training regimens and stimulation parameters on effectiveness in Electromyostimulation training of selected strength parameters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(11): 3218-3238.

Kemmler W., Schliffka R., Mayhew J.L., von Stengel S. (2010). Effects of whole-body-Electromyostimulation on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and maximum strength in postmenopausal women: the Training and ElectroStimulation Trial (TEST). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24(7): 1880-1887.

Babault N., Cometti C., Maffiuletti N.A., Deley G. (2011). Does electrical stimulation enhance post-exercise performance recovery? European Journal of Applied Physiology 111(10): 2501-2507.

Gondin J., Cozzone P.J., Bendahan D. (2011). Is high-frequency neuromuscular electrical stimulation a suitable tool for muscle performance improvement in both healthy humans and athletes? European Journal of Applied Physiology 111(10): 2473-2487.

Dirks M.L., Wall B.T., van de Valk B., Holloway T.M., Holloway G.P., Chabowski A., Goossens G.H., van Loon L.J. (2014). Neuromuscular electrical stimulation prevents muscle disuse atrophy during leg immobilization in humans. Acta Physiologica 210(3): 628-641.

Samir Sali

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