What is EMS?
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) therapy uses electrical currents to stimulate nerve muscles. It’s popular in physical therapy and professional sports training. You can use a portable or at-home device for EMS treatments, which allows you to take control of your physical fitness and pain management easily.
How does EMS work?
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a technique physical therapists use to stimulate muscle contractions through electrical currents. It’s typically used as a supplemental treatment tool in physical therapy, is not meant to be used as an exercise regimen on its own, and should always be prescribed by your doctor. The electrical current is delivered through two electrodes that are attached to a control unit that’s connected to wires; these two electrodes can either be placed directly onto the skin or attached to adhesive pads. The stimulation of EMS causes the targeted muscles to contract and then relax, which helps improve blood circulation and muscle rehabilitation.
What do the studies say about EMS and pregnancy?
EMS during pregnancy has not been studied extensively, but there is enough data on both animals and humans to suggest that this technique can be safely used in pregnant women. One study found no negative effects on the weight or size of the baby in rats that were at a gestational age similar to the third trimester in humans. Another study found that electrical stimulation reduced the risk of premature birth by two-thirds compared to untreated rats. A small clinical study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School further revealed positive findings: three pregnant women who received EMS for roughly half an hour for 10 days straight reported improved circulation, less pain, and better sleep.
Evidence suggests that EMS can be safely used during pregnancy.
- Consult with your doctor first. If you’re a new mother and already exercise regularly. You can likely use EMS during pregnancy, but there are many situations where this is unsafe. It’s essential to consult with your physician before deciding whether or not to use EMS during pregnancy.
- Be aware of the risks of using EMS on the abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Because of how the electrical pulses contract these muscles, possibly causing uterine contractions. It is advisable to avoid them altogether when pregnant. At most, you should only stimulate the lower abs. To ensure that stimulation does not reach the upper abdominal area (above the belly button).
- Don’t use EMS on your abdomen during the first trimester of pregnancy. While there is no evidence that abdominal muscle stimulation can cause miscarriages. It is still better to err on the side of caution and avoid doing so unless advised by a physician.
- Have your training partner ensure the proper placement of electrodes over your shoulders and upper back. As they will help support proper posture while pregnant.