Currently, there is a lot of attention regarding the use of electrical stimulation for muscle developmental purposes. Electrical stimulation and how it can affect muscle strength, tone, and endurance have been met greatly in the sports science community. Recently, certain studies have been published that looked into the effects of electrical stimulation on human muscles. Here, we will explore these research papers’ findings to conclude how this type of stimulation may be effective.
Electrical stimulation essentially involves using an electrical current to cause an excitation response within a particular muscle’s nerves and nerve endings. There have long been many people that have hypothesized that by using the power of electrical currents, muscle strength, tone, and endurance can be improved. Essentially, the rationale behind this is that the energy used in the stimulation process can help energize the nerves found in the muscle, leading to greater performance regarding athletics and other areas of muscle application.
Studies that have been conducted looking into the effectiveness of using electrical stimulation have often involved a small sample size. Two large studies have been conducted testing the stimulation hypothesis using an electrical current; one used five male participants while the other used fifteen. Both of these papers concluded that stimulation using electrical currents could improve muscle strength and muscle toning. The research papers have a strong impact on how the world of sports science views the possibility of using such techniques for fields such as bodybuilding, athletics, and generalized categories of sport.
The research was conducted using young males that were broadly defined as being healthy and fit. The research involved testing a group of these males subjected to electrical stimulation to those who didn’t receive any electrical stimulation. The idea was for the men to exhaust their muscles and then go through a four week period of recovery where the difference in outcomes regarding the group that undertook electrical stimulation was compared with the group that didn’t receive the stimulation.
Generally, throughout the course of the experiment, the men were subject to regular electrical stimulations, which were followed by them performing a muscular strength activity that would measure the amount of strength that their muscles would be able to exert. There were measurements made before the stimulation and after the stimulation multiple times during the four week period. At the end of the four-week period, a statistically significant result showed the group that received the electrical stimulation had stronger muscle strength at the end of the period.
Furthermore, another study showed that using electrical stimulation showed that the muscle tone, size, and strength were able to be improved over the course of a few weeks. The electrical stimulation application methods were also provided methodically and regularly to ensure no inconsistencies regarding the results that would be recorded. Hence, the results opened up the door for the wide range of possible new strategies that may be utilized in bodybuilding and sports rehabilitation using electrical stimulation methods.
The problems encountered throughout these two studies were the fact that they use a petite sample size. The first study only used fifteen males, while the other used only five. Considering how small the sample is, there is a huge chance for errors regarding the found results. The larger the sample size, the more accurate and reliable the conclusions of the study. This is not to say that the studies were inaccurate or were misleading in their results; rather, it simply means that there has to be more research conducted to come to a more definitive conclusion regarding the efficacy of electrical stimulation.
However, it is the general trend within most types of breakthroughs in the sports science community that they start with small research findings, which are then expanded upon. The two research papers discussed show ample evidence that there could be a great use in using electrical stimulation; this will catalyze more researchers to think about the possibilities and potential behind electrical stimulation and conduct research themselves surrounding it. These initial research papers on the subject will likely incite more research to be conducted, but this time with a larger sample size to build upon the initial recorded findings.
The use of electrical stimulation could prove to be groundbreaking for bodybuilding, especially in muscle tone. Fields like bodybuilding are highly dependent on whether or not a contestant not only has a large amount of muscle size but whether their muscles are toned and defined. Hence, if it can be definitively proven that using electrical stimulation methods leads to more defined and toned muscles, whether in the short term or the long term, there will be many commercial and scientific opportunities that arise because of it.
However, one thing that must be considered is safety regarding the use of electrical currents withto stimulate muscles. Considering that using electrical stimulation is still in its early stages, there is definitely a need for strong guidelines regarding applying electrical currents to muscles safely. As is common knowledge, electrical currents can be dangerous at high voltages. Hence, exploring this type of stimulation’s possible effects must also be met with caution regarding how these research trials are conducted to ensure a reliable and safe outcome.
Overall, there is much information that suggests that there is a lot of potential behind electrical stimulation, especially for muscle toning. As mentioned, there has long been a hypothesis that muscle strength, tone, and endurance can be boosted using this type of stimulation. With the recent findings discussed, more evidence suggests that this hypothesis is likely to be correct.