After a strenuous workout, you get home only to find that your muscles are sore. Perhaps you notice a burning sensation in your leg while working out, only to discover that you have experienced a muscle sprain. These are common events that happen regularly, so having a countermeasure that helps with recovery and performance is important. While you can take medication for pain relief, some people prefer a more holistic approach.
A muscle stimulator is a great choice for people who want to reduce muscle soreness after their workout session. While it won’t replace physical therapy, it is still an effective option for at-home use. These devices help to stimulate muscle fibers to contract, which leads to pain relief and other benefits. While there are several muscle stimulators on the market, we are going to look at some of the top options in this article.
What Is A Muscle Stimulator?
A muscle stimulator is an electronic device that uses electrical signals in order to produce a stimulatory effect on muscle fibers. It provides electrical muscle stimulation that causes contractions, which can provide various benefits to the user. The muscle stimulation is great for improvement and recovery, which is why muscle stimulators are so widely used today.
These devices come in several different designs and sizes. The purpose, however, still remains to produce electrical muscle stimulation in the user.
Many people turn to muscle stimulators after they experience an injury. Injury to muscle tissue can take some time to heal. The electrical muscle stimulation can help to speed up this particular process. Muscle stimulators also serve as a type of rehabilitation system and can be used at home or during physical therapy.
A muscle stimulator is not only good for pain relief. There are other reasons why people turn to electric muscle stimulation. Many professional athletes, for example, will use the electrical impulses created by muscle stimulators to improve their athletic performance. The muscle stimulator can also be very useful when it comes to recovery after a workout. When the recovery happens faster, you can put out more effort and experience muscle growth and other benefits in a reduced amount of time.
Types Of Muscle Stimulators
It is important to note that not every muscle stimulator is the same. Even though two of these devices may have a similar appearance, there are different types of technologies that companies use when they manufacture muscle stimulators.
To help you better understand the different types of muscle stimulators that are on the market, we take a closer look at the most common ones below:
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS): These are some of the more common technologies used in muscle stimulators. They use a very low voltage electrical current in order to stimulate nerve fibers. While there is a large focus on stimulating nerves, a TENS machine can still produce results on sore muscles as well. One of the main functions that these machines provide is their ability to effectively reduce the amount of pain that a person experiences. They work on pain signals in the body in order to accomplish this.
- Functional Electrical Stimulators (FES): These muscle stimulators work by also using a type of electrical current. They are, however, mostly used among people who experience certain muscle function problems. These issues with muscle function can be caused by spinal cord injuries and other health conditions.
- Electromyography (EMG): An electromyography device is essentially a piece of hardware that focuses on providing biofeedback. This is not the same as other muscle stimulators, as it provides feedback on muscle activity, which the user can then use in order to improve their control over muscles throughout their body.
You may also come across muscle stimulators that are called EMS. This stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. It is a basic version of these muscle stimulators and lays a foundation for devices that are used to assist with muscle recovery and rehabilitation.
What To Consider When Buying A Muscle Stimulator
If you want to get your hands on a muscle stimulator, then it is important to have a thorough understanding of what you should look at. By considering the specifications and factors that we list below, you will be able to better understand which of these devices are the right tool for your own needs.
Start with the purpose that you have in mind for the stimulator that you are going to buy. Personal requirements should play a major role in deciding on a specific stimulator. You should then look for EMS machines that can cater to these particular needs. The purpose might be to help you with recovery, to reduce pain, or to assist with muscle rehabilitation.
Type Of Stimulation
There are different types of stimulation technologies that these devices can use. For a highly effective option, it is definitely a good idea to look for one that combines EMS and TENS technologies. This can provide you with a more significant relief of soreness in your muscles.
Ease Of Use
A muscle stimulator should be quick and easy to use. When you want a treatment for your injuries, you do not want to spend a lot of time configuring the device or figuring out how it works. Steer clear of EMS machines that are too complex, as they might affect your experience with the technology.
Comfort is an important element, especially since the EMS modes on these machines will generate electrical impulses that are sent into your body. This causes muscle twitches and contractions. Make sure the machine you opt for is not too intense with these electrical impulses and that it won’t make you feel uncomfortable.
Another thing that you should also take into consideration is the price of these devices. The price can significantly differ from one EMS machine to another. It is a good idea to start by first looking at your budget and deciding how much you are able to afford to spend on the stimulator.
It is also important to consider the reputation of the brand that manufactures each of these devices. Some brands are more well-known for producing top-quality devices and tools that help with recovery, exercise, and pain management.
Best Muscle Stimulators
A quick search and you’ll find that there is a significant number of muscle stimulator devices on the market. This makes it hard for a person to pick a muscle stimulator that is right for their requirements. Some of these muscle stimulators are very similar to each other, but there are also options that offer superior quality and performance.
We did extensive research to look at the types of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation devices, EMS options, and other units that are currently available. We considered a variety of factors, such as quality, performance, electrical currents and pulses, and more. This helped us narrow down to a selection of the best overall muscle stimulators that you can currently find on the market.
Best Overall Stimulator – PlayMakar PRO
First up on our list is the PlayMakar PRO Muscle Stimulator. This is our best overall pick as it provides you with exceptional performance yet comes at an affordable price.
The PlayMakar PRO costs $249.95, but the manufacturer regularly runs promotions where they reduce the price to $199.95. There are 14 different programs that you can use with this EMS machine.
Each of these programs has been designed to provide specific results – from improving blood flow to aiding in muscle recovery. The package includes either two or four pods. These pods are what deliver the electrical pulses to your body.
The electrode pads are placed directly on your skin. You can then control their functionality with the wireless remote control that also comes with the package. The muscle stimulator offers a total of 25 different intensity levels. There are also timing functions that allow you to set the duration for the muscle stimulator to function.
Both the electric pads and the wireless remote control come with a rechargeable battery. The pods last around three to five hours per recharge. The hand control can last for up to 10 hours, depending on how frequently you use it to make adjustments to the device.
The muscle stimulator makes use of both EMS and TENS technology. This combined approach delivers better results when it comes to muscle growth, rehabilitation, and strength.
PlayMakar PRO is the ultimate take with you anywhere electrical muscle stimulator system.
- Comes with 14 programs.
- Help build strength, maximize endurance, assist recovery, improve the quality of warm-up, manage pain, and massage away tension in just one device.
Best Affordable – PlayMaker SPORT Muscle Stimulator
When it comes to looking at the best muscle stimulators, you will often find that some of them are quite pricey. In fact, a couple of options can go over $1,000. If you are working with a tight budget, you might want to look at some of the more affordable options – but you still want to ensure the device can give you the performance and quality you expect from it.
This is where the PlayMakar SPORT Muscle Stimulator comes into play. If you enjoy playing sports, then this is a great choice for you. With a price that is under $150, it won’t set you back much but still gives you the performance you need to reduce pain and stimulate your muscles.
This is not a wireless option, so it is not a great option for wearing the pads on the go. Still, it makes for a great addition to your routine at home. The remote control provides you with an easy-to-use panel.
There are just five buttons on the device to ensure you do not feel confused. The pre-programmed massage modes also ensure you do not have to go through various configuration menus in order to get the right intensity levels for your needs.
These devices are good for pain management as well. Some of the pre-programmed massage modes focus specifically on helping to reduce muscle tension and pain after an intense workout.
One unique feature of the PlayMakar SPORT Muscle Stimulator is the explosive strength mode. This creates faster twitches in your muscle fibers, which contributes to enhanced muscle growth and recovery.
- This highly effective wired muscle stimulator.
- This system comes with 10 pre-set programs.
- 25 levels of adjustable intensity..
Best For Pain – iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Machine
Many people turn to muscle stimulators to help them manage pain. This pain may be due to a workout, in which case you’ll use it to help with your active recovery.
Perhaps you have recently undergone surgery and want to strengthen your muscles, but also get rid of the pain. These are all scenarios where the iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Machine comes into play.
While this machine isn’t designed to help you build muscle, it is a great option for reducing the pain level you experience after an intense workout session.
You can also turn to the iReliev machine if you want to own TENS and EMS machines. This is because the device combines both of these technologies in order to produce superior results. Apart from sports-related purposes, the iReliev Wireless TENS + EMS Machine is also a great solution for people who have arthritis and want to try out EMS devices.
Another major benefit of this system is the fact that it is a wearable device. This means you do not have to worry about constantly having to carry around wires. You are also mobile while you use the device. Simply place the pads on the skin areas where you want the treatment to focus, then adjust the settings with the controller that is included in the package.
You are able to choose between either two or four wearable pods when you opt for this particular system. Additionally, there is also an option that comes with a case – this allows you to easily carry the device and accessories with you. The full suite of items that you get in this package is backed by a two-year warranty.
Best Quality – Compex SP 8.0 Muscle Stimulator Kit
Compex is a brand that is known for its superior quality products and is often even used by professionals and physical therapists. They have a range of different muscle stimulators available, but the Compex SP 8.0 is one of the best options that they have to offer.
This is a complete kit that gives you a high-powered option similar to those used by elite athletes. There are a couple of functions that the Compex SP 8.0 offers and these primarily focus on people who regularly exercise or those who play sports.
The LCD screen on the device adds to the overall usefulness that it offers. Even though the LCD screen is quite small on the device, it still provides excellent visibility for the functions that you want to see.
The adaptive function of this particular device ensures it automatically makes certain modifications to the programs based on your needs. There are four modules in the box, along with a loading station and a charger. you also get access to a total of 16 electrodes. This includes snap electrodes that are super easy to attach to your skin.
Designed for athletes, SP 8.0 is the TOP of the range in terms of wireless muscle stim. Equipped with unique MI (muscle intelligence) technology, Compex stimulators adapt to each of your muscles to provide the most effective muscle stimulation possible, while offering greater comfort and better performance
Muscle stimulators give you the ability to easily reduce tension and pain symptoms. They do come in several different designs with various intensity levels. If you are looking for the top quality option, then consider the Compex Sport Elite system, with the SP 8.0 being the latest in the line. The iRelieve wireless system is great for people who want a stimulator that helps with pain symptoms. EMS machines from PlayMakar are also good options for people who want a balanced choice.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost