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The EMS Glossary

by PainPod International

When dealing with technology, sometimes people are accustomed to using specific language and terms just because they become familiar, without having a proper understanding of the different meanings of each of the words being used.

With this article, we are going to provide readers with a basic glossary of all the most important terms used in the world of electronic muscle stimulation in strict alphabetical order.

AC CURRENT

A type of current that offers alternating polarity as it changes from positive to negative and vice-versa many times per second.

BIPHASIC

it refers to a waveform with a positive phase and a negative phase.

CONTINUOUS MODE

It is an EMS modality consisting of a continuous delivery of the determined value of pulse rate (Hz), pulse width (μS) and waveform. Mostly used for muscle relaxation and massage purposes.

DC CURRENT

A type of current characterised by a constant electron flow from the negative to the positive electrode with no alterations

DUTY CYCLE

It is the ratio between the duration of the active signal and the total work cycle, describing the on/off phase of delivery of the electrical pulses. It is an essential parameter to avoid the occurrence of fatigue.

EMS

It is an acronym standing for Electrical Muscle Stimulation and it refers to the modality of stimulating motor nerves through the electrical current application.

FALL TIME

The time it takes for the muscle to relax after the stimulation.

FARADIC CURRENT

A type of current resembling the AC current in most characteristics but presenting a higher level of skin irritation.

FREQUENCY

It is the number of pulses per second, measured In Hz.

INTENSITY

It is one of the most important parameters and it represents the amplitude of the current.

INTERFERENTIAL CURRENT

A type of current forming a combination of two high-frequency waveforms (4000 and 4100 Hz) in a crossed pattern.

MONOPHASIC

It refers to a waveform which has a unidirectional pulse from baseline to either positive or negative.

POLARITY

It refers to the direction of current flow in an electrical circuit (flowing from the positive to the negative pole)

PULSE

It is the single electrical impulse being delivered.

PULSED MODE

It is an EMS modality consisting of a predefined set of pulse rate, pulse width and waveform delivered in repeating cycles. It is used mainly for training purposes, in order to elicit repeated muscle contractions and rest periods.

RAMPING

It is a parameter describing the ratio between the rise time and fall time. It is fundamental to reduce contraction abruptness.

RECTANGULAR WAVE

It is a term describing a type of waveform characterised by a rapid rise in current, a prolonged duration and a snap drop-off.

RISE TIME

The time it takes for the electrical current to induce muscle contraction.

SHAPE

With this term, we usually refer to the specific shape of the waveform.

SINE WAVE

It is a term describing a type of waveform that offers the same energy levels both in positive and negative phase.

SPIKED WAVE

It is a type of waveform characterised by a rapid rise in current and an immediate drop-off to zero after reaching the maximum.

TENS

It is an acronym standing for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and it refers to the modality of stimulating sensory nerves through the electrical current application.

WAVEFORMS

It is a term describing the specific form assuming by the electric current leaving the ems unit, which is looking like a “wave”.

Article by

Antonio Robustelli

PainPod BioTechnology advisory board - Head of Sports & Technical Science. International Sports Performance consultant

Home Nation: Italy / Sport: Multiple / Date Joined: 2017

Antonio is a widely sought after International Sports Performance Consultant & Applied Sports Technologist. He works around the world with Olympic athletes and professional sports teams in Europe, Asia and the USA. He is a prominent speaker and contributor to international sports magazines including Athletics Weekly.

His area of expertise includes injury prevention, sports technology, strength training programming, speed development and recovery monitoring. He works with advanced technologies in the field of performance monitoring, injury prevention and improved performance that includes infrared thermography, foot pressure mapping, myotonometry and tensiomyography

A regular speaker and lecturer at International Sports Science conferences, he is currently writing ‘Sports Biometry: application of technology for Sports Science’.