Flexibility as a physical capacity is a determining quality that can improve and optimize learning and performance in sport. It is this quality that allows humans to mobilize body parts that achieve large-scale movement (ROM). Three basic stretching techniques can be used to perform flexibility training (maximum demand): static, dynamic, and pre-contraction stretching.
The last group consists of the anticipated contraction of the muscles to be stretched, the most common technique being Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), which has proven effective in improving the range of active and passive movement of different joints in sports.
The possibilities offered by electrostimulation for our purpose are unknown by most sports professionals. Numerous studies show that the method of muscle stretching through the application of TENS-type currents is extraordinarily effective in improving flexibility.
In this post you will be able to discover all the advantages generated by working on flexibility with the help of electrostimulation systems, how to work on elasticity with stretching and which methods are the most beneficial for your goal.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, flexibility with electrostimulation?
This method aims to stimulate or accelerate the response of neuromuscular mechanisms by stimulating proprioceptors. It uses natural reflexes (autogenous inhibition reflex) to inhibit muscle contraction, resulting in a higher ROM.
The effectiveness of PNF is based on the use of mass movement patterns called spiral-diagonals and on specific techniques that sequence muscle performance during movement patterns.
The muscles gradually become stiff, lose their elasticity, and can even become stronger, but shorter. This determines the functional defect, which will have a negative impact on us both physically and psychologically.
Work flexibility with stretching
To prevent this process from causing problems in our locomotor system, we must practice stretching with electrostimulation to improve flexibility. Stretching is a widely used prevention and treatment technique, and about which many authors have written, so we have extensive information.
On the other hand, many authors use electrostimulation in sports to achieve various purposes: improve muscle strength and endurance, increase muscle mass and accelerate recovery after hard work, prevent and improve recovery from injuries.
For this reason, electrical stimulation has been widely studied as a basic means of strengthening muscles. In fact, in recent decades, it has been widely used to improve the physical condition of healthy subjects and athletes, thus improving their athletic ability and sports performance.
Stretching with electrostimulation
The electrostimulation stretching technique has been adjusted according to the indications of the author Maya, J. (2001) in “Electrical Potentiation and Elongation”. IX National Conference on Physiotherapy in Sport. The steps to follow are those:
- Stretch the muscles until the feeling of elasticity ceases.
- Then increase the amplitude of the current until the contraction occurs and you no longer feel the stretching sensation.
- After that, stretch the muscles again until a new feeling of tension appears.
This cycle is repeated three times in total. Finally, the intensity of the current gradually decreases and the leg (for example) returns to the resting position.
To stretch the muscles through electrical current (TENS), select only alternating current with a direct current value equal to zero. This type of electrical current has a mild effect, it does not cauterize the skin, which prevents the increase in nociceptive input after treatment.
According to the literature and scientific articles, the recommended parameters for training flexibility with electrical stimulation reside in the application of symmetric biphasic rectangular impulses with a phase duration of 0.3 milliseconds and a frequency of 40 Hz.
Electrode placement should be oriented to achieve the best muscle response, so we recommend using Wiemspro technology. With it, you can achieve the same parameters and absolute management of your electrodes, isolate them or place them judiciously through EMS suits.
Wiemspro provides high-end software, which can be used from computers to portable tablets, so that the treatment can be carried out wherever the physiotherapist wants it, making it the main promoter of the comprehensive management of electrostimulation parameters. With the help of Wiemspro professional electrical stimulators, you can have everything under control, it can provide patients with a feeling of comfort during any type of training.
Any location will elicit a motor response, but we need to spend a few minutes on the first day to get the best response. For this, the ideal method is to seek mixed stimulation, in which electrodes are placed near the nerves that control the muscle group (not always possible) and from there disperse channels towards the motor points of the muscle.
We can affirm that both the TENS stretching method and the FNP stretching technique allow a significant gain in flexibility as long as they are applied correctly and systematically. Although it is true that the gains are much greater when using the stretching technique with electrostimulation. We must bear in mind that the muscle we are stretching is at the same time in a state of relative contraction. This fact entails a certain risk, since we can cause a muscle rupture if it is not carried out with an important control.