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Currently, the appearance of centers or gyms in which electrostimulation becomes the star of their programs is becoming increasingly fashionable, but in order to know what electrostimulation is for and how it works, it is necessary to previously know how the muscle works.
How does muscle work?
Very roughly, we can say that the muscle is made up of muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber is in turn formed by myofibrils where we can find the actin, myosin, and tropomyosin filaments. They are 3 of the proteins found in the myofibril, but not the only ones.
The muscle contraction process is a chain of elements that are produced until said muscle contraction occurs. This contraction may be both voluntary and involuntary. The nervous system sends a message, via motor neurons, that a muscle contraction must occur. These motor neurons pass through the nerve fibers until they reach the motor fibers. Upon reaching the motor fibers, the release of neurotransmitters occurs, which then, through the activation of the receptors of said neurotransmitters, produces the release of calcium. Calcium is essential since its release implies that it binds to troponin, which binds to tropomyosin and rises, favoring actin and myosin to bind, generating the force attack, and therefore contraction. Once we understand how muscle contraction occurs, the question arises of what electrostimulation is.
What is electrostimulation?
Electrostimulation is the process from which through controlled electrical discharges on the motor point of the muscle, a contraction occurs. The stimulus of this contraction is not sent by the nervous system but is sent by the machine we are talking about.
A study showed the influence of training with neuromuscular electrostimulation on strength and speed. To do this, they used a sample of 36 people of which 10 did training with electrostimulation, 9 did plyometric training, 7 combined both pieces of training and there was a control group of 10 subjects. The plyometry group and the electrostimulation group performed 8 sessions, two per week, of vertical and horizontal multi-jumps at medium-low intensity. The electrostimulation and plyometry group used 8 sessions of each type, 16 in total.
Some significant results were extracted, such as that the electrostimulation groups and the electrostimulation and plyometry group obtained increases in muscle perimeters, being even higher in the electrostimulation group. The electrostimulation group lost speed, but the group that combined electrostimulation and plyometry improved both their volumes and their speed.
After this reading, we can draw a series of conclusions such as:
- If the goal of training is simply to increase muscle mass as well as maximum strength, NMES would be a good training method.
- In those disciplines that are characterized by a high number of explosive and speed actions, and where sporting performance depends on them, it would be advisable to use NMES combined with plyometric work.
- NMES cannot be considered an effective method on its own to improve explosive strength and speed; It must be considered a complement to other training methods. In this way, the desired improvement can be produced.
- After this introduction of the electrical-muscular functioning as well as the functioning of electrostimulation.
What are electro stimulation vests?
These electro stimulation vests cover almost the entire body, exposing only the head, hands, and feet. These vests through strategically placed bolt electrodes at the motor points of the muscles generate a muscle contraction. The sessions that are usually offered in electrostimulation centers are usually 20 minutes.
Understanding these new training methods as training support elements is the way to go. Electrostimulation training must be completed with training integrated with the sport that the subject performs since otherwise negative processes will occur in the athlete, as stated in the previous research. In turn, many of the benefits that these vests claim to offer must be quarantined, since there is no relevant research in this regard. And what better than the professionals of physical activity and sports to advise each athlete on the uses of electrostimulation vests and their interrelation with the practice of each athlete.