Compex Recovery: Which Program Should I Use?

The most common use for an electric stimulation devices is in recovery, and rightfully so. An NMES device such as Compex can be used to decrease recovery time by using involuntary muscle contractions and controlled levels of electric pulses to improve blood flow, reduce muscle soreness and flush away lactic build up. But if you turn on a Compex device, there are more recovery programs than just one and knowing how to choose the correct program will further enhance the benefit of using a Compex device.

So which program should you choose?

Active Recovery

This program is also known as the Training Recovery program in the wireless device. This program would be best used immediately post workout and studies have shown that immediate recovery markers are improved by 4.5x when using a Compex device versus a voluntary cool down. Although the program will run for 20 minutes, just 6 minutes of use is enough to be effective in flushing out lactic build up and recovering from “the pump.” This program would be very beneficial in a competition setting or between back-to-back training sessions or events.

 Recovery Plus

This program is also known as Competition Recovery in the wireless device. This program would be best utilized in the hours or days following a physical effort or on “rest day” to reduce muscle soreness or stiffness. This program should not, however, be used during competition.

Massage

This program is also known as Muscle Relaxation in the wireless device. This program is a low-frequency electric pulse that will help to relax tight muscles and help restore mobility with increased blood flow and movement. Like the Recovery Plus, this program should not be used during competition.

 Choosing the correct program can help to amplify the efficiency of your recovery between training and competition events. Better recovery equates to higher levels of performance and decreased feelings of fatigue or soreness and can help an athlete advance to the next levels of their potential.

Fitness Test: Compex Muscle Stim Devices

Check out the review in Men’s Health and Fitness on the Sport Elite and Wireless Device by  Brittany Smith.  Complete article here http://www.mensfitness.com/life/gearandtech/fitness-test-compex-muscle-stim-devices

YOU CAN ZAP your muscles—literally send an electric current down to nerve fibers, fire your motor neurons, and stimulate a strong muscle contraction. It’s called NMES, neuro-muscular electrical nerve stimulation; more specifically, we’re talking about two NMES stimulators from Compex, a company that’s been in the business of electrotherapy for over 20 years. So why should you want to try it out? For one, NMES can help you heal quicker if you’re coming back from an injury. But, it’s not just for guys who have been sidelined. It can also help you recover faster after a brutal WOD and even boost your performance in workouts by better activating bodyparts.

And it doesn’t hurt—aside from some alien tingling sensation you quickly get used to. I can attest to this; I tested both the Compex Sport Elite Muscle Stimulator Kit and the Compex Wireless USA Muscle Stimulator Kit.

But before you read what I thought, check out everything you need to know about personal NMES devices first.

Continue reading →

A Lesson in Lactic Acid: Active Recovery with Compex

Virtually every human being has experienced the bodily responses associated with strenuous activity or physical exertion. Heavy breathing and muscle fatigue are not unique to athletes alone, although high-performance individuals certainly experience strain to an exceptionally higher degree. Regardless of intensity, however, the science is the same and a basic biological understanding of how our human bodies respond to physical stress is important to understand how to best recover.

Continue reading →

What is E-Stim and How Will Compex Help My Training?

Electric muscle stimulation, or neuromuscular electric stimulation (NMES), is a common modality of physical therapy and rehab treatment. For serious athletes, however, it is also used as a powerful tool for training and physical recovery to optimize performance. More commonly referred to as e-stim or muscle stim, an NMES device delivers electronic pulses to motor nerves through electrodes placed on the skin, causing a motor response to achieve a number of desired results.

Continue reading →

TENS VS. NMES: What’s the Main Difference?

Whether looking for a tool to boost your fitness and strength or recover from an injury quickly, electric muscle stimulation (EMS) can help you achieve your goal. With that comes many questions, like what exactly is NMES and TENS? This is a common question we get at events when we are demonstrating the Compex’s uses and benefits. To avoid further confusion, we want to clarify the differences between NMES (NeuroMuscular Electrical Stimulation) and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation). Many people have been in physical therapy and may have had an experience with TENS and NMES devices, but were not educated on the difference between these types of stimulus.

Continue reading →

Introducing Compex Wireless USA

Introducing the first US wireless electric muscle stimulation device designed to enhance performance and speed recovery. For over 20 years Compex has been the global leader in electrotherapy, with products beneficial for muscle recovery, injury prevention and intense training programs. Now with the release of the Compex Wireless USA athletes can experience freedom from wires which raises the training experience and allows athletes to take their workout to the next level.

Professional athletes of all sports from running, functional-fitness and cycling, to basketball and football can integrate Wireless USA into their daily training routines to achieve peak performance and desired results.

From fast recovery to muscle-strength gains and endurance improvements, the use of Wireless USA provides athletes and fitness enthusiasts with an intelligent tool to supercharge their performance and prevent future injuries. The device recruits specific motor nerves by targeting muscle fibers that cannot be reached through traditional workouts and training.

“Compex has been a key tool to enhance my performance since I started training,” said Josh Bridges, 2014 CrossFit Games Competitor. “It allows me to activate all my muscle fibers, dig deeper and ultimately get stronger for competition day. With the introduction of Wireless USA, I’m now able to have more freedom and increase the usage of NMES in my training.”

Additional Compex enthusiasts include: Chad Mendes (UFC), Steve Weatherford (NFL), Andy Potts (Ironman), John Wellborn (Strength Coach), among others.

 

World Champion Triathlete Timothy O’Donnell credits Compex muscle stimulation for recovery during training

Training for a triathlon is no easy feat and there are many elements that come into play when you’re working to become the best athlete possible. World champ triathlete, Timothy O’Donnell recently spoke to Outside Magazine about how he prepares for these strenuous races and credits Compex’s portable electrical stimulation machines during training.

“I have a lot of calf issues,” O’Donnell says in the magazine article. “When they get tight, I hook up the machine and it sends electrical pulses into the muscles.”

Triathlons require stamina and endurance leading up to and during the race so it’s important to maintain strength and health. The Electro Muscle Stimulation maximizes your muscle recovery so you can realize all of your fitness goals. It also flushes lactic acid by increasing blood flow to fight against the sensation of heavy legs, keeping you on top of your game. Compex recovery products also help to stimulate your endorphins to deliver pain relief, further relax muscles and even reduce anxiety.

O’Donnell will be competing in the Ironman Kona October 11on a 140.6 mile journey and we wish him all the luck. For the full article, click here.

Debunking the Myths around Compex Muscle Stimulators

NMES Myths

There are many myths, misconceptions and concerns around electric muscle stimulators and rightly so. Using a device that sends an electric current through your body sounds dangerous and painful. But medical devices like the Compex Electric Muscle Stimulator are reviewed by governing bodies, and are designed to perform very specific functions that are mirrored after the body’s own processes and are very safe.

Let’s dive into some of the most common questions and concerns (for a full list of all FAQs, click here).

 

Q: What does a Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulator (NMES) like Compex do?

A: The principle of electrostimulation is very simple; it reproduces the processes that occur when our brain orders muscles to contract. It works almost like a relay race; when we decide to contract a muscle, our brain sends an electrical current down through our nerve fibers. Once it reaches the muscle, the terminal motor neurons fire and stimulate the muscle fibers to contract.

When you use an electric muscle stimulator, the signal is sent directly to the motor neurons using brain-like electrical pulses. In fact, muscles cannot tell the difference between a contraction triggered by the brain and one caused by a NMES device. The difference is that with a NMES device, you bathe the entire length of the motor neurons. The result is a more thorough and complete muscular contraction. There is also less impact on bones and joints since the stimulation is coming from the device and not from an activity such as weight lifting.

 

Q: Are there any side effects when using a NMES device?

A: Side effects are limited; Compex is a very safe device. However, if you are looking to build strength and start off with too high of a setting, you can experience soreness, the same way you would if you work out too hard at the gym. There has also been reports of skin irritation from the pads.

It should also be noted that improper use of a muscle stimulation unit can easily lead to skin burns, according to research published in “The Journal of Arthroplasty” in 2005. Dr. Daryl Lawson states that if a strong electrical current is delivered through a small electrode, the skin is exposed to a higher concentration of electricity per unit of area, which can cause burns. Again, start off slow and figure out what levels are best for you and that you’re most comfortable with.

 

Q: What about other NMES devices that claim they can help you lose weight? Some claim to give you six-pack abs!

A: While a NMES device may be able to strengthen, tone or firm a muscle, no NMES devices have been cleared at this time specifically for weight loss, girth reduction, or “six pack abs”. Both the FDA and FTC have cracked down on companies making false claims about their NMES products.

Using these devices alone will not give you “six-pack” abs. Stimulating muscles repeatedly with electricity will result in muscles that are strengthened and toned to some extent but will not, based on currently available data, create a major change in your appearance without the addition of diet and regular exercise.

However, in a study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, there was a marked increase in their caloric output from using Compex. Because of their condition, regular exercise was not an option. While Compex does not entirely replace exercise, for patients who cannot engage in more strenuous activity, Compex can be used to strengthen muscle, increase definition and muscle size, and increase caloric output.

 

Q: Does using a NMES device give you an unfair advantage?

A: Not anymore than having a dedicated training and recovery program does. While the use of Compex has been proven to increase performance, it does so by increasing muscle actions that the body already performs during a workout. The difference is that they are much more targeted and allow for more muscle contraction of specific muscle groups and muscle fiber types. The body can’t tell if the signals for a contraction are from the brain or Compex. Compex stimulates the entire nerve vs. just part of it.

 

Q: Are there any sports currently banning / restricting their use?

A: At this time, the use of NMES devices has not been banned or restricted.

 

Q: Is the use of a NMES device a “quick fix? How soon will I see results?

A: Depends on your definition of “quick fix”. While the effects of recovery are felt instantly, using Compex to build muscle doesn’t happen instantly.

If you are using Compex for building strength, expect to start to feel and see results in 2-3 weeks. If you are looking to use Compex to increase the amount of enzymes needed to deliver energy for contracting muscle, it will take about 6 weeks. If you are using Compex to increase tone, you should see results in about 3-4 weeks.

 

Q: What if you only use NMES without exercising?

A: Even without exercise, NMES devices will strengthen your muscles. However, you will not receive the added benefits of an exercise program such as cardiovascular health. It is recommended that a NMES device be included as part of your overall health or fitness plan.

 

Q: Are there any side effects when using a NMES device?

A: Side effects are limited; Compex is a very safe device. However, if you are looking to build strength and start off with too high of a setting, you can experience soreness, the same way you would if you work out too hard at the gym. There has also been reports of skin irritation from the pads.

It should also be noted that improper use of a muscle stimulation unit can easily lead to skin burns, according to research published in “The Journal of Arthroplasty” in 2005. Dr. Daryl Lawson states that if a strong electrical current is delivered through a small electrode, the skin is exposed to a higher concentration of electricity per unit of area, which can cause burns. Again, start off slow and figure out what levels are best for you and that you’re most comfortable with.

 

Q: What parts of the body is NMES most effective on? Is there anywhere on the body where I shouldn’t use an NMES?

A: NMES units can be used on almost all parts of the body. However, stimulation should not be applied on the neck. A severe spasm of the muscles may occur and the contractions may be strong enough to close the airway or cause difficulty in breathing. In addition, stimulation on the neck could also have adverse effects on the heart rhythm or blood pressure.

The effects of stimulation of the brain are unknown. Therefore, stimulation should not be applied across the head and electrodes should not be placed on opposite sides of the head.

Electrodes used for electrical stimulation should not be applied across the chest because the introduction of electrical current into the chest may cause rhythm disturbances to the heart.

While we are discussing the chest, you should use caution when using a NMES if you have an implanted pacemaker. Implanted pacemakers and heart defibrillators can mistake EMI from the electrical muscle stimulator for a physiological signal coming from the body itself. This causes the devices to respond to the signal — pacemakers do so by changing their rate, and implanted defibrillators may deliver an unnecessary shock.

In addition, do not use Compex if you have the following medical conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • Following acute trauma or fracture
  • Following recent surgical procedures
  • Critical ischemia of lower limbs
  • Abdominal or inguinal hernia
  • Cancerous lesions

 

Q: What sports tend to be benefit the most from NMES? Is it just for athletes?

A:  NMES units are for anyone looking to build strength, increase performance, or recover faster. You do not have to be an athlete; NMES units are recommended for anyone looking to achieve their fitness goals.

Compex is recommended for anyone participating in a sport that requires strength like lifting, endurance like triathlons, or anyone in a competitive sports league that needs to speed up recovery time between games or matches.

 

Q: Is there a particular age group that benefits the most from NMES?

A:  Compex has been used for children as young as 10 years old; however not without adult supervision. Compex can be used by young people for recovery but also to build strength. In some ways, it is safer than the weight room because there is no pressure placed on growth plates, bones or joints.

 

Q: Are NMES systems are really expensive?

A: No. Depending on which model you choose, they are relatively affordable. Compex models start at $399.99 USD.

 

Q: Can you use a NMES device everyday?

A: Yes, but remember with any training program, recovery is an important part of the process. Luckily Compex can be used for both training and recovery depending on setting.

 

Q: What is the difference between Compex Muscle Stimulators and ones used for medical purposes like muscle re education, physical therapy or to prevent venous thrombosis?

A: There are a lot of different types of electrical stimulators that stimulate nerves. Physical therapists often use one called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS. TENS units use a different kind of wave / frequency that stimulates sensory nerves instead of motor nerves like Compex. TENS units work with sensory nerves to block pain. When using a TENS device, you’ll feel a buzzing but no contraction of the muscle.

Compex is a NMES: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulator. Compex works on a “all or nothing” principle. Once the motor neuron fires, the muscle fibers that it innervates will contract. The nerve cell and the muscle fibers it innervates is called a motor unit. One nerve cell will innervate anywhere from 10 to 1000 muscle fibers depending on the muscle fiber types, e.g. slow twitch vs. fast twitch. Either all of the motor unit fires, or none of it does. The strength of a contraction is determined by how many motor units fire synchronously.

When the pulse is sent, you will feel a twitch, a variety of twitches or very short contractions when running warm up or recovery programs. This type of response is common in the MarcPro unit, which is for recovery only. Compex not only delivers the recovery twitches, but also delivers twitches to warm the muscle up before an activity. On top of that, Compex has as many as four programs that contract the muscle for seconds at a time; enough so that when repeated throughout the length of a program, increased strength is developed after 10 sessions.

When you compare Compex with other similar products, the technology is the same, but the range of frequencies is different. Compex has 4 circuits. What that means is that four different muscle groups can be stimulated at the same time. A lot of muscle can be covered each time a program is run.

The muscle is the conduit for the current. At the proper frequency and pulse duration, it will stimulate motor nerves and only motor nerves. The Compex can be very powerful – more powerful than other popular NMES devices. It has the ability to penetrate deeply to contract more muscle than can be achieved with a maximum voluntary contraction. When the current penetrates more deeply, you stimulate more motor nerves and more muscle fibers. However, you choose the degree to which the muscle contracts. The stimulation levels are finely graded so you can select the exact level of current you want based on your comfort level.

Compex delivers a biphasic square wave of electricity. What that means is instead of a gradual build up, the current comes almost instantly so the nerve does not accommodate or hesitate. It sounds like it would be more painful this way however, this type of wave is actually more comfortable. Without the hesitation, the nerve and muscle fibers are stimulated at a lower level of energy.

 

Do you have more questions about Compex or electric muscle stimulators in general? Please ask away in the comments!

 

Sources:

http://www.shopcompex.com/training/warnings

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20437&page=2

http://www.medword.com/MedwordStore/PCP/EMS_truth.html

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ucm142478.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/37127-electrical-muscle-stimulation-work/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/153338-muscle-stimulation-dangers/

http://www.activeforever.com/electronic-muscle-stimulators

http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/256/electrical-muscle-stimulation-ems-claims-exposed/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_muscle_stimulation