You may have noticed that we have some great deals on Compex electro muscle stimulation units (EMS), running from November 1 – December 31, including the top-selling SP 4.0 and SP 8.0. For those that have been keeping tabs, this is the first time that we have offered the units at a discount. And just in time for Christmas!
I thought that I would take this opportunity to share some of my personal history with using Compex, and that of athletes that I have worked with.
My first introduction to EMS was at a Hammer Nutrition road cycling camp in Tucson, AZ in 2012. Our U.S. partners had a few units on hand for athletes to play around with after each days ride. They were being promoted primarily as a recovery tool (an alternative to expensive regular massage) and for those with nerve pain, which can be alleviated through TENS programs. Although Compex is not a Hammer produced product, company founder Brian Frank is a big believer in the technology as a compliment to our fueling and recovery products. “Muscle stimulators are commonplace in European sport stores. You’ll see them on the front shelf, right next to the fuels,” he would explain. The technology was still very much in the early adopter phase in North America, however.
Fast forward to present day, EMS is now gaining traction in the triathlon and CrossFit arenas as a serious training tool, no longer to be confused with late night infomercials like Dr. Ho (primarily marketed to older adults with nerve pain). Competing product Marc Pro, heavily into the CrossFitt world, and Compex sponsorships of internationally recognized athletes like ultra runner Kilian Jornet has helped break the stigma.
Our Canadian customers now primarily fall into one of four camps: Amateur athletes that train multiple times / week, Olympic athletes, NHL players, and anyone looking for an alternative to rehabbing muscle and nerve issues (often prescribed by a doctor and covered by a medical plan). On the amateur side, the SP 4.0 is the unit we most often recommend (and my unit of choice). Aspiring professionals tend to lean toward the greater depth of programs and wireless functionality of the SP 8.0. See the program comparison chart >>
My own experience with the units has been invaluable. I have chronic nerve pain and muscle tightness in my legs (due to a 2010 stationary cycling world record attempt). I’ll use the units almost daily, especially around heavy periods of training. Massage and flushing out lactic acid in my legs is a top priority.
Dabbling in strength gains has been an ongoing test, and where some of the biggest misconceptions of EMS stand. It is important to note that Compex strength programs primarily focus on the recruiting of dormant muscle fibers – where strength gains initially appear when you start any resistance program. Any claims of increased muscle volume and six pack abs are not proven. These types of gains typically come from pushing heavier weights and a striving toward a healthier body mass index. Don’t be sucked into recruitment being less important than volume, however, especially for leaner endurance athletes. Also, those with an injury or possible neurological impairment (think of spine or brain injuries), EMS stimulation bypasses the voluntary contraction – your brain attempting to tell your muscle to contract – and does it involuntarily, stimulating the motor neurons that have lost connection, and in full. Healthy athletes with muscle imbalances will also see the value.