Effectiveness evaluation of WB-EMS as a post-exercise recovery method

Introduction

High intensity during physical activity causes muscle fatigue. Controlling that neuromuscular fatigue efficiently is necessary to improve the athlete’s performance potential. Since neuromuscular fatigue can affect the ability to generate skeletal muscle strength. 

Therefore, recovery time is an important factor in the sports performance of an athlete, because the affected physiological systems may take days or months to recover. 

Different recovery methods have been used to help physical recovery after exercise. These include classic methods, such as assets and liabilities. Also, we have more modern techniques, such as cryotherapy, massage and electrostimulation. However, despite studies on these recovery methods, there is controversy today about their effectiveness in post-exercise recovery.

Neuromuscular electrostimulation has shown inconsistent and heterogeneous results when compared to other recovery methods. Several positive effects have been related to the use of this method, such as: analgesia in muscle pain, the removal and repair of muscle tissues from physical activity.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of WB-EMS as a post-exercise recovery method compared to active and passive recovery methods.

Method

To address the hypothesis that WB-EMS was more effective than other classical recovery methods with respect to various physiological factors and psychological markers; RPE measurements, perceived muscle pain, recovery quality, blood lactate concentration, heart rate, percentage of hemoglobin saturation tissue, body temperature, blood pressure and neuromuscular fatigue were taken. A different recovery method was applied after each session. In the study 9 healthy male adults took part, these participants went to the laboratory in three different sessions with a week apart. The WB-EMS recovery protocol was 1 Hz in frequency and a pulse width of 350 μs, the intensity was chosen by the subject to be as comfortable as possible. During this recovery period, the subjects remained silent in supine position. 

In each trial, participants performed an identical warm-up, followed by a 5-minute exercise to generate physical fatigue. Finally, participants conducted a 20-minute recovery session with a different method after each test. The measurements were acquired at baseline conditions, during exercise, immediately after exercise, at the recovery time of minutes 5, 12 and 20 and 24 hours after exercise.

Results

Regarding the measurement of perceived exertion, blood lactate, body temperature, percentage of hemoglobin saturation tissue, muscle pain and recovery quality, no significant differences were found between the methods in the various measurements made during recovery. 

Regarding the heart rate, significant differences were found in minute 5 in terms of active and passive recovery methods. On the other hand, significant differences in systolic blood pressure were found in blood pressure in the three methods (passive, active and WB-EMS). 

Regarding diastolic blood pressure, no significant differences were found.

Conclusion

In this study it is concluded that WB-EMS (1 Hz frequency and 350 μs) used as a recovery method is not more effective in lactate clearance than active or passive recovery. However, the lack of studies in the scientific literature on WB-EMS, as well as the variety of recovery protocols and electrostimulation parameters used in previous studies, makes contextualization, interpretation and discussion of the results difficult, letting us know that it is necessary to perform more studies in this area.

Bibliography

Miguel A. DE LA CáMARA, Ana I. PARDOS, Óscar L. VEIGA. (2018). Effectiveness evaluation of whole-body electromyostimulation as a post-exercise recovery method. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.07737-X

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