Whole-body EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) is quickly becoming popular as a time-efficient type of training that can cut down on hours at the gym while still giving you the benefits of traditional exercise. A 20-minute EMS session can improve your muscle structure and strength to roughly the same extent as four hours of weight training.
Importantly, the benefits of whole-body EMS aren’t just limited to fitness – there’s also plenty of scientific evidence that it can help improve physical health conditions like lower back pain (LBP). Let’s have a look at what the research says.
How Whole-Body EMS Can Help Reduce Lower Back Pain
You’ve probably heard of chronic lower back pain – maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. It’s one of the world’s most common health conditions, with roughly 80% of people suffering from it at some point in their lives. There are lots of different reasons for LBP, like lifting heavy objects in the wrong way and bad posture, so often it’s difficult for medical professionals to work out the exact cause – an estimated 80% of LBP cases are non-specific in cause.
This makes finding alternatives to surgery important for people affected by chronic LBP (who often also can’t participate in traditional exercise). Whole-body EMS combines the best of both worlds, delivering a time-friendly therapeutic workout. Here’s the science.
A 2017 study found that just 16–25 minutes of whole-body EMS per week helped reduce lower back pain intensity by an average of 87%, and reduced lower back pain frequency by an average of 64%. The best part? The whole-body EMS sessions produced better results than traditional therapeutic exercises, and took less time to complete.
A 2018 study offered similar results. Over six months, whole-body EMS significantly decreased lower back pain intensity, and resulted in roughly +15% lower back extensor strength, maximum back isometric strength and abdominal strength. These results were compared to a control group who only used traditional exercise techniques.
A third study from 2019 found that whole-body EMS and traditional exercises reduced lower back pain by roughly the same amount, although the study’s authors noted that whole-body EMS had many benefits over traditional exercise.
So what happens if you combine traditional exercise with a whole-body EMS workout? A 2001 study did exactly that. Guess what they found? Using EMS with traditional exercise improved strength, reduced pain and improved function better than traditional exercise on its own.
EMS Versus Traditional Exercises for Lower Back Pain
Although traditional exercises like weight-lifting, stretching and callisthenics can benefit people affected by LPB, there are a couple of great reasons to use whole-body EMS instead.
Whole-body EMS needs less time to be as effective
Many therapeutic exercises need longer, more frequent sessions to be as effective as whole-body EMS, which (as we know from the studies we talked about earlier), normally only needs one 20-minute session per week to help reduce lower back pain.
Let’s take a look at some other types of lower back pain therapies and their effective times and frequencies: ·
A 2017 study comparing the effectiveness of yoga, eurythmy therapy and physiotherapeutic exercises for LBP used each exercise type for 60 minutes once a week. ·
A different 2017 study comparing AquaStretch and land-based stretching for improving LBP used each exercise type for 30 minutes twice a week. ·
A 2015 study used home exercise sessions 20–60 minutes long six times a week to reduce neck and lower back pain.
Are training times and lengths the same for every person who has lower back pain? Definitely not! Different bodies and different circumstances need different types of training, but, on average, whole-body EMS is more effective in a shorter period of time than most therapeutic exercises.
That’s not the only benefit, either. Remember how 20 minutes of whole-body EMS gives you a workout equivalent to four hours at the gym? At the same time as the therapeutic effects of EMS are helping your lower back, the electrical pulses are also working every muscle group in your body, giving you an energising, full-body workout.
Whole-body EMS works for people with limited mobility and kinesiophobia
A big problem with using recovery techniques like stretching are conditions like limited mobility and kinesiophobia (fear of movement), which often go hand-in-hand with LBP. These conditions can limit the range and quality of therapeutic exercises, making recovery slower and much more difficult.
Whole-body EMS is one way to work around that problem. The electrical impulses that activate your muscle fibres allow you to experience many of the EMS benefits without moving, which, in turn, can make recovery much faster and more effective if you have limited mobility or kinesiophobia.
Discover how whole-body EMS can help you
If you’re suffering from chronic lower back pain, or you know someone who is, it’s time to start using whole-body EMS. You get the benefits of a traditional workout with the remedial effects of physical therapy – and you can do it in just 20 minutes a week.
Don’t believe the science? Try it yourself. Come down to the 20v EMS training studio in Broadbeach and experience a free 12-minute trial of our German-engineered EMS machines, guided by one of our expert trainers.
What are you waiting for?