Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation


At MOTUS, we strive to provide our patients with cutting-edge tools to help them meet their training and recovery goals. One of our trusted products is known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), also sometimes called electrical muscle stimulation. This tried-and-tested technology provides a localized treatment that enhances muscle recovery and training.

NMES is safe, simple, and provides quick results. Whether you need help building strength after an injury, or want to enhance your workout routine, NMES could be a good tool for you.

What is NMES?

When it comes to NMES, the name says it all. This advanced, non-invasive technique uses gentle electrical impulses to stimulate the muscles. The treatment creates a similar effect to a physical workout, while allowing the patient to sit still and relaxed. Because it puts no strain on the patient, it’s an excellent tool for retraining weak muscles, or enhancing warm up and recovery for an athlete.

There are no risks and no side effects with NMES. The process provides a safe, drug-free way to help patients regain their strength after surgery or injury, and gives athletes a tool to enhance their traditional strength-building routine.

How does it work?

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is applied using electrode pads that are attached to a device controlling the output. During NMES treatment at MOTUS, you’ll be placed in a comfortable position that allows for effective application. Your physical therapist will position the electrode pads around the area being treated.

At MOTUS, we use Chatanooga Continuum devices, which feature customizable waveforms. The therapist can use the device to adjust the waveform type, the pulse rates and durations, the cycling type, and the treatment time. All of these customization options will help you find a pleasant but effective treatment. During therapy, you’ll experience a gentle tingling feeling in the muscle, but should not experience any pain.

The electrical impulse stimulates the target muscle in two phases. In the first, it causes a muscle contraction similar to what would happen in exercise. During the second phase, the muscle relaxes. This two-phase stimulation acts as a passive workout that delivers the benefits of exercise without putting physical strain on the patient.

What are the benefits of NMES?

As the name implies, the benefits of NMES therapy are all in the muscles. Many professional athletes and trainers have embraced the remarkable impact of NMES on athletic performance, starting with increased muscle strength.

For an active athlete, NMES doesn’t mean to take the place of conventional training. Its application can enhance a regular routine by providing complete muscle contractions in addition to the contractions in the workout. The contractions created by NMES provide enhanced workout benefits without exhausting the athlete.

A 2019 study looked at the effectiveness of NMES compared to photobiomodulation therapy for volleyball players. The researchers wanted to see which method could offer greater muscle strengthening and an improved jump performance. Their findings showed that those who received NMES versus photobiomodulation or no therapy at all had a much greater lower limb strength than the others. Benefits also continued for two weeks even after the NMES treatment had ended.**

NMES increases the blood flow to whatever area it’s applied. Increased blood flow improves the circulation to an area and helps prevent muscle soreness. Athletes can use NMES to target specific muscles post-workout to enhance their muscle recovery and be better prepared for their next physical demands.

NMES isn’t just reserved for athletic training and recovery. The passive exercise that NMES creates also benefits those who need help returning to normal muscle strength after long-term inactivity.

A review published in May 2019 looked at the evidence for NMES as a tool for strengthening the quadriceps after a total hip replacement. Their findings indicated that applying NMES immediately after surgery allowed for a much higher exercise volume despite inhibited muscle movement. The review also concluded that NMES combined with physiotherapy provides improved strength and functionality after total knee replacement.*

Is NMES right for me?

If you recently underwent surgery, or are healing from an injury that inhibited muscle movement, NMES could be a good method to help you regain strength. Our NMES therapy is used to address muscle atrophy and muscle soreness. It’s even being studied as a tool for motor restoration after a stroke.***

At MOTUS, we’ve used our NMES to help out numerous patients in the Orange County area, athletes or not. Contact us today to discuss whether NMES is right for you.


* Louise C. Burgess et al – Strengthening Quadriceps Muscles with Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Following Total Hip Replacement: a Review

** Ronaldo Alves da Cunha et al – Photobiomodulation therapy and NMES improve muscle strength and jumping performance in young volleyball athletes: a randomized controlled trial study in Brazil

*** Jayme S. Knutson et al – Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for Motor Restoration in Hemiplegia