EMS long-term safety

EMS isn’t my field, I admit. And it seems most forum participants accept it as being generally safe for the short and long-term. I’m not saying I disagree, but a thought occurred to me.
1] Give a man testosterone long enough and his own long-term supply will lessen.
2] Give a man growth hormone long enough and his output will eventually shut down as well.
3] Give a man thyroid hormone long enough and he will become dependent on it for life.
4] Stimulate a body to wake up or be in a good mood long enough with caffeine, and in it’s absence you feel tired and miserable.
5] Give a man EMS long enough and…?
Clearly, the potential flaw in my reasoning is that the first three examples are hormonal in nature whereas EMS is an exogenous energy source. The body shuts itself down in my first examples with it’s protective hormonal feedback loops. But does the logic still apply? The human body seems to be remarkably consistent in that if an outside source repeatedly does the organism’s ‘work’ for it, the long-term effect is that the body has a more difficult time doing it’s intended job without the assistance. Does anybody else wonder if firing ‘artificial’ electricity in place of the body’s own might have a long-term effect on some bio-mechanism we don’t fully understand yet?

One thing to recognize (even for the hormonal effects) is that if you cycle the stimulus, you can avoid the shutdown effect.

For EMS, I’m not sure if there are any long-term negative consquences for chroninc use, but understand that the way EMS is most effectively used is in extremely short cycles and for a limited amount of time for during the year.

Generally, you will use it in 2 week cycles in coordination with the peaks of your 3-1-3 strength cycle. If you do a max strength cycle 3x annually, that works out to a total of 12 weeks of EMS - only 36 sessions per year!

Note that the reason why you keep the EMS cycles short is because the effectiveness of EMS for strength development plateaus very quickly. That is, if you use if for more than a couple of weeks, your strength gains will quickly level off.

Yes, I appreciate that cycling can shut down long-term inhibitions in the human body. But we all know that once you own an EMS machine, it can be a very accessible, easy way to stimulate some type ll’s that day. Is there any peer-reviewed research that has EVER been done on the long-term safety of EMS? We simply can’t assume that motivated athletes have the common sense to cycle something they are being told has no long-term complications. Thoughts?

Have you ever used EMS? I personally don’t find it all that accessible or comfortable and if you are using it at the intensities necessary to build strength, there is no way you could keep it on all day!

Is there any peer-reviewed research that has EVER been done on the long-term safety of EMS?

I’m not aware of any, because long-term extended use is not a protocol that any reasonable researcher would choose to study (because nobody uses EMS that way.) However, TENS (which is essentially a low level EMS stimulus to help relieve pain) is used long-term and continuously. You may be able to find some studies on that.

We simply can’t assume that motivated athletes have the common sense to cycle something they are being told has no long-term complications. Thoughts?

Stupid athletes don’t last long…

Yes, I have a Powerstim and use it wisely, and this prompts my questions. If you have all-consuming children like I do and can’t always get to the gym it becomes ‘accessible’ within recommended protocols! Comfortable-NO-but the pain you just deal with. Kind of like cilimbing under squat racks for the last 20 years!

And xlr8, I think we may have misunderstood each other. Obviously no one cranks it up and stays on it all day-that is not what I meant by “long-term usage” I simply meant-and this is a VERY legitimate question: If somebody WERE to stim for longer [over the course of a career], or more often than recommended what effects might we see?

These machines can deliver strength-and all of us know that young athletes may think more is better. When you say that ‘nobody uses EMS that way’ I think you are being presumptuous-like anything helpful in sport it not only can but WILL get overused-you can put the money in the bank on that. I’m so used to being able to tell young athletes " Don’t do too much of THIS, or THIS will happen. I just wish we knew enough about EMS to be able to conclusively tell them what would happen if they over-stim.

The truth is, my gut tells me EMS is probably OK for normal use. I guess I will just assume for now that none of us can really say for sure, and hope that somebody DOES see the worthiness in trying to determine if there are overuse consequences of this technology. Cheers, Johnny

Overuse or inappropriate use of any training methodology leads to problems. For example, lets make a list of the long-term negative consequences of inappropriately high volume, high intensity weight training: tendonitis, cartilege degradation, arthritis, ligament and/or tendon tears, etc…you get the idea.

The point is not that you shouldn’t do these things, but instead that you must learn about approriate use. Next thing we know, the government will do some long term study about the effects of inappropriate use of EMS (or weight training) and determine that bad things will happen and then ban it for all of us to use.

Here’s what you can tell an athlete about EMS: If you use it appropriately in short max strength cycles, coupled with a solid weight training plan and your regular sports training (all periodized and cycled appropriately), then it will provide good results. If you use it in long cycles, too often, or overuse it, the results will be the same as if you overdid your regular weight training: plateau, stagnation and probably injury.

I hear you on the government.

Interesting…it is funny how some will claim that things don’t work yet they are dangerous…like supplements. good ideas and the same could be be said for insulin spikes and surge! Who ten years of stim? I am not worried…ten years talking on a cell phone? Cancer of the brain.