An EMS machine can be a helpful aid when trying to manage back pain. Often, people who suffer chronic lower back pain and sciatica experience this due to their muscles being in spasm. A TENs machine may help block nerve pain/discomfort and certain types of muscular pain, however, the EMS machine is excellent when it comes to relaxing the muscles. Look for an EMS/TENs machine that has modes such as warm up, active recovery mode, and muscle calming – it’s these modes that will help reduce the recovery time for back pain sufferers.
An electronic muscle stimulator is what the physician or therapist recommends to you, if you happen to suffer from any form of muscle injuries, or are undergoing muscular rehabilitation at home. A personal handheld electronic muscle stimulation system works by sending little pulses of electricity into your muscles through the skin. These pulses cause the muscles to contract and relax, depending on the shape of the source signal and its frequency. Different types of muscle stimulation units are available on the market, so it’s important to read the features of each unit to see which one is best for you.
HealthmateForever TENS Unit Handheld Body Massager
The HealthmateForever TENS Electrotherapy Pain Relief System is our top pick because of its perfect combination of portability, features, and battery life. This particular model is powered by a special Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack that gives it a 10-hour+ continuous usage rating.
You can recharge it by connecting it to a wall outlet via the power adapter, or you can also use the USB port to charge it from a powerbank or computer. Moving on to the performance, the HealthmateForever muscle stimulator unit is capable of both EMS as well as TENS.
There are a total of 4 electrodes, and it is fully approved by the FDA. You get to choose from over 20 preset intensity levels, and there are 6 massage modes built-in. The gel pads are conductive and self-adhesive, so you just need to take them out and put them on the affected area.
STAR BUDGET PICK
HealthmateForever TENS Unit with 4 Outputs
If you are just looking for a basic yet highly portable EMS device, then consider getting the HealthmateForever YK15AB TENS stimulator unit. The large LCD display shows the signal frequency, selected preset mode, etc. There are buttons beneath the display arranged in a phone pad style structure, with clear labeling on the top that says “shoulder”, “neck”, “elbow”, “hip”, “ankle”, etc.
You can adjust the signal intensity to make your muscles work faster or slower. This is a TENS type muscle stimulator, and there are 15 electrotherapy programs preloaded into the ROM of the device. There are 20 intensity levels, and the auto shutoff timer is set to 80 minutes by default, which is the maximum. There are a total of 9 automatic muscle stimulation exercises, and 6 massage modes. Eight electrodes are connected, and there are 4 outputs in total.
Compex Edge Electronic Muscle Stimulator Kit
For those of you who want slightly more functionality than the YK15AB, but don’t want to pay a premium for it, the Compex Edge is the perfect answer. It has only 3 basic programs built-in, however those three signal types are optimized for developing muscle strength and increasing recovery rates.
This device is meant for people who want to tone their muscles but have limited time for daily exercise. You just have to strap the 8 self-adhesive electrodes onto your abdomen, back, biceps, chest, or any other part of your body that you wish to toughen up. Then select from any one of the three preset exercise modes which allow you to achieve peak performance and fitness state without stressing your joints or causing cardiovascular fatigue.
The active recovery program is a unique feature of this model, and it is designed to clear the lactic acid buildup in your muscles that occurs after stressful activity. The exercise programs are designed to target both slow as well as fast twitch muscle fibers. The Compex Edge weighs a mere 2.2 pounds, and measures 8.2” x 6.1” x 3.9”.
Pure Enrichment PurePulse Pro TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator
If you suffer from muscular pain or cramped up/knotted muscles, then the Pure Enrichment PurePulse Pro is something that you should definitely get. It is completely FDA approved, and comes with a reliable 2 year warranty. There are multiple muscle auto stimulation programs which are designed to exercise your muscles on different levels of stress.
You have 25 intensity levels to choose from, the highest of any stimulator machine on this list. There are a total of 4 electrodes and two outputs, all 4 of the electrodes are pre-gelled and are self-adhesive. The various preset modes that are loaded in the memory of this device allow you to choose between specific exercises for different parts of your body, such as neck, back, biceps, quadriceps, abs, etc.
You can select everything and modify the intensity settings with the help of the large backlit LCD display. There are 5 buttons below the display, and these allow you to choose various presets, change intensities, set the auto shut off timer, etc.
Choosing the Best Electronic Muscle Stimulator for Back Pain
In order to choose a muscle stimulator, you must first consider what type of injury you have been diagnosed with. If it is on the muscular level, then an EMS unit would be right for you. If a particular nervous section needs therapy, then choose a TENS unit. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Simulation, and it passes electric current through your skin in order to stimulate the nerves.
There are some muscle stimulator units that come with both TENS as well as EMS abilities, meaning that they can be used to stimulate both the nerves as well as muscles. However, when you stimulate the nerves, you also affect the muscles in that region, so a TENS unit also doubles up as a muscle stimulator, but an EMS unit cannot act as a TENS unit.
Prices of muscle stimulator units can vary greatly depending on the amount of presets that they have, and the frequency range of signals that can be produced by the stimulator. All of them use AAA batteries or lithium ion cell packs, so choose one that has good battery life if you plan on travelling around with it. The most basic models come with signal presets for muscle rehabilitation, endurance training, and mild exercise.
More advanced models will include extra presets, such as strength training, extreme strength training, stamina buildup, massage mode, etc. They will also allow you to select the intensity of the signal. The more intense a signal, the more power your muscles will apply in response to it, and the more work they do.
Also look for features such as auto shutoff, programmable timers, etc. There are many models out there, and they vary a lot in terms of features and prices. Don’t get a top of the line model with 20+ presets and intensity settings if you just plan on muscle recovery after an injury, those stimulators are designed for athletes and body builders who need to tone and strengthen their muscles on a regular basis. On the other hand, getting a cheap recovery-based model with less than 10 presets is going to handicap your progress, if you happen to be an athlete or fitness trainer.