Debunking the Myths around Compex Muscle Stimulators

NMES Myths Debunking the Myths around Compex Muscle Stimulators

Electric muscle stimulators are great for helping you achieve your fitness goals through increasing your strength and aiding in your recovery. However, 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 and approved by the FDA, 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 or to view the full post, vist www.shopcompex.com/blog).

 

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 NMES devices legal?

A: Yes. Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulators are considered medical devices and are regulated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Only FDA-certified devices can be lawfully sold in the US without medical prescription. Most FDA approved NMES devices are intended for physical therapy and rehabilitation under the direction of a health care professional.

However, Compex has been approved as a level 2 medical device. In order to get that approval and be allowed to be sold directly to consumers, Compex had to prove that the device can be used safely and effectively in that setting, which has been done.

 

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 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!

Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

knee pain women Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

Knee injuries are no laughing matter; 55% of all sports related injuries are knee injuries. But who is at greatest risk for knee injuries when it comes to sports? It turns out that women are 4-6 times more likely to suffer a sports related injury than their male counterparts in the same sport. Out of all sports related injuries, the most common injuries among female athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

The reasons for women having an increased risk of knee injury has nothing to do with strength or ability; it comes down to genetics and anatomical factors, form, and training. Simply put, women are built differently than men and some of those differences put added pressure on their knee joints. Thankfully, the factors contributing to the increase in injuries have been widely researched and while genetics can’t be changed, form corrections and training programs have been proven to prevent knee injuries in women’s sports.

Within the sports community, female athletes who play basketball and soccer are somewhere between 2-10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The reason for the high rate of ACL injuries within these particular sports can be attributed to that most ACL injuries—whether in male or female athletes— are caused by non contact mechanisms. These include common movements like landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running. But why are women so susceptible to ACL injuries? Let’s take a look at the factors and what can be done to reduce the risk.

Genetic and Anatomical Factors:

ACL Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It connects the front of the tibia (shinbone) with the back of the femur (thighbone). It helps provide stability to the knee joint.

The strength and use of the surrounding muscle groups, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, have a serious impact on the ACL. When running and jumping, women tend to lead with their quads, whereas male athletes seem to have a better balance between the quads and the hamstring muscles. A balance between quads and hamstrings means the impact is more evenly distributed, thus reducing the pressure on the knee.

Another reason for increased knee pressure is that women have a wider pelvis which creates a larger Q-angle at the knee. This often results in a more “knock-kneed” posture in women, leaving the ACL more vulnerable for injury.

Q Angle 600 Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

(image via http://blog.footsmart.com)

Additional anatomical factors in ACL tears such as the diameter of the ACL are still being researched.

Some doctors think women are more prone an ACL injury because of the differences in the amount of circulating hormones such as estrogen. Certain hormones give ligaments strength and flexibility. Fluctuations in hormone levels may have some impact on the function of the nerves and muscles and may lead to an increased risk of injury.

Form:

When researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain why this increased risk of ACL injuries in women was occurring, they uncovered that poor form when landing a jump contributed to the risk.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

After this discovery, the same researchers spent six weeks correcting these form issues resulted in a reduction in the likelihood of ACL injury by up to 50%.

Prevention Through Training:

As doctors and orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in ACL injuries in women, training and conditioning programs were designed to correct problems with form, strengthen knees and surrounding muscles and reduce the risk of injury. FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments, has designed a warm up program specifically designed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries in soccer players (male and female).

Teams that perform FIFA 11+  program at least twice a week, for 20 minutes at time, experience 30-50% fewer injured players, according to FIFA.

In addition, the Sports Physical Therapy department at Massachusetts General Hospital have put together a detailed sports conditioning program to help increase knee strength and reduce knee injuries specifically in female athletes through active warm-up, stretching, strengthening exercises, plyometric drills, and agility drills.

While ACL injuries for female athletes were reaching epidemic proportions, through understanding the problems causing the increase and creating prevention programs based on research, the rate of these injuries is on the decline.

Sources:

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/a_females_aching_knees/

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/risk-knee-injury-increases-women

http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/features/sports-medicine-surgeon-urges-girls-soccer-teams-try-acl-tear-prevention-drills

http://wcbe.org/post/epidemic-knee-injuries-young-female-athletes

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/nov10/research3.asp

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices/sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20Knee%20Injuries%20and%20ACL.pdf

http://www.athletestrengthandperformance.com/acl-anatomy-gender-disparity/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465242/

http://www.atipt.com/news-media/blog/acl-tears-and-knee-pain-more-common-women-activity

Prevent ACL Injuries

Did you know women are between 2 and 10 times more likely to injure their ACL?  Wearing a DonJoy knee brace like the Playmaker II with a FourcePoint hinge reduces your chance of on an ACL injury. This knee brace has been proven to decrease your chance of injuring your ACL from a non-contact injury by 60%! And wearing this brace helps train you to utilize the right degree of flexion (how much you bend your knee) so you’re less likely to injure your ACL even if you’re not wearing this brace.

Learn more about the DonJoy Playmaker II with FourcePoint Hinge

Preventing Sports Injuries in High School Students

PreventingInjuryHS Preventing Sports Injuries in High School Students

As parents, your children’s safety is a top priority. According to ESPN, 21.47 million kids between 6 and 17 play organized sports. That’s more than the population of the state of New York.

Sports are great for young people for many reasons; being part of a team, staying active, college scholarships, etc. But with any physical activity, there is a risk of injury. In fact, high school athletes get injured about as often as professional athletes do. Some of the most common injuries occur because many athletes are still growing during their high school years. Bones grow first, causing an uneven growth pattern that pulls on tendons and muscles, increasing the chance of injury. However, there are simple steps you can take to help reduce that chance.

Proper Equipment

Many sports — football, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc — require certain protective gear to play. Make sure all gear fits properly and is in good condition.

If your child has been previously injured, make sure they have the proper support, brace, or protective gear to reduce the chance of repeat or further injury.

Warming Up

Warming up is important for anyone playing a sport. A proper warm up includes stretching before heading out on the field, court or ice. Warm ups increase muscle and tendon flexibility, helping to avoid injuries like pulls and tears.

Conditioning prior to the start of a sports season can help a high school athlete avoid injury during the season. The chance of injury increases when an athlete has a sudden increase in their level of activity that their body is not prepared for. Starting gradually and working up to a full training program is best to get back in playing shape.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure your young athlete drinks plenty of fluids (water or sports drinks) before, during, and after the game.

Don’t Over Do It

Limit the number of sports your high school student plays a season and make sure they take time off. Children and teens who play more than one sport during a season are at greater risk of injury from overuse. Injuries from overuse are common even in adults. If your child is dedicated to a single sport, try to take a couple months off between seasons. Year-round training can lead to overuse injuries as well.

Got other tips for preventing sports injuries? Let us know in the comments!

 

Sources:

Improve Your Health By Walking

Benefits of Walking Improve Your Health By Walking

Staying active is one of the best ways to prevent health concerns down the road but you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to improve your health. The benefits of walking are well documented. Research has shown that even walking for 30 minutes a day can lead to better health by doing the following:

  • Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Improving blood pressure
  • Improving blood sugar levels
  • Strengthening your bones
  • Helping you maintain a healthy body weight / lowering your risk of obesity
  • Helping you relax and de-stress

According to the Stroke Association, walking briskly for up to 30 minutes each day can help prevent and control the high blood pressure that can cause strokes – reducing your risk by up to 27%!

Want to know more about how walking can improve your health? Check out Dr Comfort’s full post on how to walk your way a healthier life (including proper technique to avoid walking related injury): https://www.drcomfort.com/blog/