Muscle pain have can be bothersome especially if it prevents you from doing physical activities. If you’re a worker who engages in physically demanding tasks, an athlete who trains most of the time, or someone who suffered an injury, pain is inevitable. But thanks to technology, we have access to devices which you can use for pain relief anytime and anywhere.
The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit is used to distract the pain by producing a small voltage of electrical impulses to trick your brain to feel the stimuli from the device instead of the pain.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) devices on the other hand are used for muscle rehabilitation and strengthening. Experts have studied that the use of an Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) device is one of the best ways to cause muscle contraction which lessens the swelling of the affected area. EMS devices are widely used for physical therapy in rehabilitating weak muscles.
For athletes, according to published studies, EMS can help the trained and best athletes to enhance their muscle strength as much as possible. It won’t develop athletic skills but it will help your muscles recover better for improved endurance and strength over time.
In another study with a controlled experiment, high-frequency electric muscle stimulators were placed on the stomachs of the subjects to test if they will make significant physical changes to the abdomen. The result of the experiment reveals that high-frequency therapy using EMS devices attached to the skin significantly reduced body fat and body mass. The slimming of the waistline is apparently evident as well.
For pain relief and relaxation, these are the following best muscle stimulators you can choose from.
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If you have chronic or recurring muscle pain and don’t want to keep on taking an oral medicine for pain relief, this combination of TENS unit and EMS device can be your best alternative.
Soothe the Pain
The TENS function can temporarily soothe your store-related pain in your muscles from your shoulders to your legs, due to physical strain from work or exercise. The EMS function of this device can be used to improve muscle strength.
This TENS unit is packed with a rechargeable lithium battery which can be used continuously for up to 20 hours. With a battery level indicator, you can avoid interruption during your therapy session.
You can charge the device at a wall socket, or if you’re planning to bring this to you while traveling, you can also charge the unit via USB port and power bank.
The Osito TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator comes with easy to clean, 8 pieces TENS electrode pads that can serve you up to 50 to 60 uses.
The pads and wires are made of the same materials used in medical units so it’s easy to find replacement accessories if necessary. Programmed with 25 modes and 50 intensity levels on an individual button. There is also a timer function and setting features which default is 30 minutes.
Designed to be compact, you can carry the Osito TENS unit everywhere you go in case your muscle pain acts up. With its ability to stimulate diverse massage methods, this device is the best pain relief companion for various pains such as back pain. arthritis, inflammation of joints, shoulder tension, headache, and muscle spasms.
- Long battery life which can last up to 20 hours of continuous use
- Replacement spare parts and accessories are easy to find in the market
- Compact - easy to pack and easy to charge.
Offers Different Intensity Levels
The Auvon TENS offer fully independent dual channels which allow you to have 2 isolated treatments, intensity and mode at 2 different parts of your body, adjusting to the level of therapy that you need.
Unlike other dual-channel devices which only allow different intensity levels for separate channels, Auvon TENS enables you to set different massage modes for 2 different therapy areas. The best example would be if your shoulder that most likely need acupuncture therapy would be hooked on channel A, while your back would be set on tapping mode on channel B, working simultaneously. No need to wait for the session to be over before shifting to other modes.
This pain relief TENS is equipped with medical-grade, pin-style electrodes that conduct stable current from the device to the pads. The pads are made of soft fabric, conductive wire-end layer, best-quality conductive carbon film, and 3rd gen American gel which provides the adhesive-like substance that sticks to the skin. These pads can be used up to 45 times.
The device programs have 20 modes. For pain relief in connection with aching and fatigued muscles in the shoulder, lower back, and knees, there are pre-set modes which include massage therapies such as hammering, kneading, shiatsu, and others.
Continuous Use for Long Hours
Can be operated for up to 10 hours of continuous use with a built-in rechargeable lithium battery. The TENS device comes with 1 dual-channel TENS machine, 16 pieces 2×2 inches, premium electrode pads, 8 pieces 2×4, high-quality electrode pads, pad holder, 2 lead wires, USB charger with cable, carrying pouch, and user’s manual.
- Compact and light to carry
- Good battery life
- Scroll-type in choosing modes
The Compex Sport Elite 2.0 is FDA approved, electrical muscle stimulation device specifically designed for elite and competitive athletes who go through tough training and challenging exercise routine. It features 10 programs which include 4 strength, 2 warm-ups, 1 recovery, and 1 TENS.
Five Levels of Programs
These programs have 5 levels of sequence to build strength and endurance, and to fight sore muscles. The Pre-warm up Program runs on low frequency and no muscle contractions. Its purpose is to oxygenate muscles before a workout to avoid cramping.
The Resistance Program works on both slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers with a similar effect of lightweight training, an all-around program for endurance and strength. The Endurance Program works on the slow-twitch muscle fibers for better blood circulation.
The Strength Program works on fast-twitch at a maximum strength without stressing the tendons and joints.
The Explosive Strength Program produces short power bursts on the muscle without the rigorous movement and stress as athletes would do in traditional training.
The Potentiation Program is used to warm up muscle without tiring and stressing. The Active Recovery Program relaxes the muscle tissue by creating muscle twitch to help clear lactic acid for post-workout recovery.
The Recovery Plus program runs on low frequency without muscle contractions but designed for safe muscle stimulation after work out. The Massage program help develops the blood capillary network of the exposed muscle as targeted by electrotherapy.
Comes with a Kit
This electronic muscle stimulator kit comes with 8 pieces 2×2 easy snap performance electrodes, and 4 pieces 2×4 easy snap performance electrodes, battery charger, electrode replacements, 4 easy snap electrode lead wires, carrying case, a CD with a guide, and user manual.
- Best for training athletes
- Versatile for recovery
- FDA approved
- A bit pricey
The BrownCastle rechargeable electronic muscle massager is easy to use. Its LCD touchscreen with LED lights makes it convenient for you to view the programmed massage mode and intensity level if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a quiet massage in the dark.
Equipped with Touch Screen
Just with a touch of a screen, you can view and choose from 6 massage types with 4 mode selections, and 20 intensity settings per therapy area, no need to fiddle with buttons to get to the massage settings that you want.
The TENS unit is built with dual-port, and powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery for an uninterrupted therapeutic session with clinic-quality muscle stimulation at the comfort and convenience of your own place and time. Set it, lock-it, and be relaxed.
Approved for Over-the-Counter Use
This device is a combination of TENS-EMS unit and approved for over the counter use. It comes with 4 sets of reusable electrode pads, 2 lead wires, and an armband for a hands-free treatment.
- Touchscreen design
- Versatile Relief
- Various modes and pulses
- The screen is fragile
The More, The Merrier
These muscle stimulator set from Techcare embodies the saying “The more, the merrier”. The set comes with Plus 24 Mode in 1 dual massager unit, a controller, 1 fat-burner belt, a pair of reflexology shoes, 3 pairs of large electrodes, 2 electrode cables, wall charger, and USB charging cable, 1 electrode pad, a wire holder, and supporting documents such as user’s manual and treatment points chart.
The device programs include categorized groups such as kneading, Swedish, cupping, scrapping, reflexology, and tai-chi. Each group has 4 modes to choose from.
This muscle stimulator device has a dual-port with 2 dual channels and each channel has individual intensity level control. This is the best feature if you’re having 2 different levels of pain from any part of your body. However, this doesn’t mean that you can run 2 different modes for each channel.
Built-In Rechargeable Batteries
This TENS and EMS combined unit is powered by built-in rechargeable lithium batteries. Programmed with adjustable timer starting from 20 minutes to 60 minutes. If you’re looking for a holistic and therapeutic electric muscle stimulator, this set offers you the best option to relieve your pain from top to toe.
- Comes with the whole set
- TENS and EMS combined in one device
- Good battery life for uninterrupted therapy
- Lacks instruction documents for fat-burning belt and shoes
- Shoes come in one size only
Electronic muscle stimulators are the best options for people who don’t have the time to visit spa and massage therapy centers to be relaxed and be relieved of muscle pain. The SantaMedical PM-470 TENS Unit is an electronic pulse massager with a rechargeable battery that you can take anywhere.
Long Battery Life
With its compact size and long-life battery, you can be relieved from your pain even when you’re in the office. Long hours of sitting with bad posture can cause back and joint pains. The mental stress of work can manifest into physical pain.
This compact device can ease your pain as you finish your long day at your workplace. If you will be sitting at the airport and long flight hours, this TENS device can make your travel soothing and relaxing.
Controlled by Professionals
This TENS device is FDA cleared, scientifically designed to be a micro-computer-controlled device by professionals using technologies in relation to body simulation, bionic, bio-electric, and a microcomputer to produce the best electric muscle stimulator with the ability to penetrate muscle groups effectively.
Adjustable Intensity Level
This device have adjustable intensity levels, the programs have 6 pre-installed modes and unlimited manual mode, making it an effective pain relief option for muscle fatigue, muscle stiffness, and muscle pain anywhere on your body with just a touch of a button.
- Portable and compact
- FDA cleared
- Inexpensive device
- Pads do not stick well after several uses
Management of Relief of Pain
The Uthlusty is a rechargeable muscle stimulator device using noninvasive therapy for the management and relief of pain by delivering small electrical impulses through the adhesive electrode pads attached to the skin. The electric stimulation flood the nervous system and reducing pain signals to reach the brain.
Large LCD Screen
This TENS device is equipped with a large LCD screen with a touch pen to operate. Installed programs include 24 massage modes and 20 intensity levels. The fully isolated channels will allow you to select 2 different modes and 2 intensity levels for each channel.
Has a Lock Function
Enabling you to receive the required therapy for your muscle pain accordingly. Other best features and functions include: lock function to prevent unwanted and accidental touch that will change the mode you are in while you are working or running, time setting up to 60 minutes, TENS EMS function in one device.
Portable and lightweight, you can get massage therapy such as acupuncture, cupping, tapping, foot massage, tuina, and combination, anywhere you are.
- Large LCD screen with a pen
- Easy to use
- Pads are not durable
Designed with Powerful Pulse
The EHE012PRO electronic muscle stimulator from Easy@Home offers a premium professional grade TENS device for muscle pain relief. Designed with powerful pulse through 5 automated massage modes, and 3 traditional massage modes, with adjustable 20 levels of intensity.
Approved for Over-the-Counter Use
Approved for OTC use, you can have relaxing and soothing massage therapies with the touch of a button in your most convenient place.
With its user-friendly interface and backlit LCD screen, you can easily choose and view massage settings, intensity levels, battery level, and time left on your therapy. It has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery via USB or wall plug.
- Professional-grade quality
- Reasonable price
- A basic unit, lesser massage modes compared to other TENS EMS devices
For High-Performance Athlete
The Compex brand is most well-known to produce the best electric muscle stimulators for training high-performance athletes. This Electric Muscle Stimulation Machine or EMS is dedicated to muscle training which gives the athletes choose the type of electro-stimulation they prefer in targeting the muscle groups they want to enhance.
It is designed to maximize the benefits of the trainees’ workout, enable quick muscle recovery. The TENS mode helps athletes with pain management.
Four Program Modes
This EMS unit offers 5 levels of progression and 4 program modes. The first 2 are strength programs consist of Endurance Program which works with slow-twitch muscle fibers to help increase muscle resistance from long-duration of rigorous training, and Resistance Program works fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers to increase explosive muscle strength.
The 3rd program mode is Active Recovery/Training which helps blood circulation to remove lactic acid by producing a muscle twitch at low frequency. This program enables muscle relaxation and faster recovery after a painstaking workout. The 4th and last program is the TENS mode temporarily relieves muscle pain.
The Compex Edge Muscle Stimulator comes with a stimulator control, battery charger, carrying case, and 4 easy snap gel electrodes.
- EMS and TENS function in one device
- Best for muscle recovery after hard workouts and long runs
- Great for athletes
- A bit pricey
- TENS mode's maximum duration is 20 minutes
Multi-functional electric muscle stimulators are always the best choice if you’re the muscle pain-prone type because of the nature of your work, activities, or even just because of natural aging.
24 TENS Programs
Getting an EMS and TENS programs in one device will do great for your physical well-being. The Belifu offers 24 TENS programs that are pre-installed for pain relief, managing your discomfort from head to feet. The micro-computer intelligent control technology and human body simulation technology are used to simulate massage methods for treating back pain, shoulder tension, arthritis, or inflamed joints and discs.
Adjustable Intensity Levels
Built with dual-channels and 20 adjustable 20 intensity levels, and time control, the Belifu can give your muscles the whole body therapy it needs. This device is rechargeable, with a built-in lithium battery that can last up to 20 hours so say goodbye to limited charged AA batteries.
This compact device comes with instruction, 2 pieces large pads, 6 pieces medium pads, 2 pieces medium pads, a string bag, 3 pieces electric wires, and a USB cable.
- Good battery life
- EMS and TENS device in one
- Pocket size device
- The interface is complicated to navigate
How to Choose the Best Electric Muscle Stimulator
Electric muscle stimulators can be used in various ways for different purposes. Electrical Muscle Stimulation or EMS are mostly used by athletes for strengthening and recovery. Whereas, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is widely used for pain relief. Both functions have their own focus.
So, in choosing the best muscle stimulators, you might want to understand first what each of the devices is used for so it can satisfyingly serve your muscle therapy need.
The EMS devices generate electrical impulses through electrodes set on your skin around the muscle that needs therapy. It also works by sending small electrical impulses directly to cause muscle contractions.
Basically, an EMS machine helps to relax the muscle, minimize inflammation, stimulate muscle growth that is beneficial to training athletes, speed up muscle healing, prevent muscle atrophy, and improve blood circulation. With these benefits, EMS devices are quite popularly used by athletes but of course, not exclusive to them.
TENS units are nerve stimulators. It also emits electrical impulses connected to electrodes placed on the skin. The TENS unit’s main function is to stimulate the mechanisms that cause pain by blocking the pain signals to reach the brain, stimulate endorphins – the natural painkillers in our system, and improve blood circulation.
With this effect, TENS units are used to relieve chronic nerve, joint, and muscle pain which can be manifested in different forms such as arthritis, pregnancy contractions, foot pain, back pain, and sometimes even migraine.
Programs and Modes
Although more programs and modes give you a lot of options for therapy, more does not necessarily mean better. Depending on the TENS or EMS devices’ interface and design, more functions could be daunting when it comes to navigating controls and choosing modes.
There are devices that only stick with TENS functions, while others have both. Depending on your need, the frequency of pain, and the type of pain you feel, you can find a reference to which kind of therapy you really need. But basically, massage functions are based on known methods like acupuncture, kneading, tapping, cupping, and shiatsu.
Easy to Use, Easy to Navigate Controls
If you’re only starting to use the EMS machine and TENS machine, instructions are crucial. But sometimes instructions are not enough to understand these devices, that’s why it’s important that the interface design and function keys are easy to navigate without having the need to combine buttons to get your machine started.
If you’re stressed enough in making the muscle stimulators work, then it’s not doing its job to relieve you from pain. The best electric muscle stimulators are the ones that you can get to work without additional pain in your brain.
Electronic muscle stimulators are usually pre-programmed with modes that the manufacturers see fit for the users. But sometimes it all goes down to personal preference. There are EMS and TENS that have manual program options as well as intensity level adjustments to serve your need.
Some require low stimulation, while some need high stimulation for them to be able to feel that the therapy is working. Considering your level of tolerance and pain should determine the effectiveness of the machine.
If you like to bring your electronic muscle stimulators everywhere you go, the size will matter. For people who are traveling for work, competing athletes, and people who are just simply prone to getting muscle pain, portability is one factor to be considered in choosing an EMS or TENS.
Some machine offers carrying cases and electrode holders to keep your devices organized while traveling. Most of the EMS and TENS have wires that can be tangled when not properly kept or rounded up so it’s nice to have something to hold it during transport.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Electronic Muscle Stimulators really work?
An EMS device may temporarily strengthen, firm, and tone a muscle. However, there are results such as weight loss, girth reduction, and getting tough abs that have not yet been cleared. But there have been studies that have been conducted that they increase performance edge.
Can you build muscle with electrical stimulation?
Many athletes seeking a competitive advantage use EMS to build muscle faster. Using EMS enhances a workout by delivering additional muscle contractions that lead to faster muscle growth and building muscle at a faster pace.
Is TENS better than EMS?
TENS and EMS both produce electrical impulses but with different effects and purposes. For pain relief, TENS are mostly used, and EMS for muscle building and strengthening. Depending on the purpose, one may be better than the other.