There are no mathematical formulae for determining the optimum level of electrical stimulation. The level of intensity must be enough to cause the required level of contraction but without discomfort or pain for the patient. It is also important not to forget that the quantity of muscular fibres recruited depends not only on the intensity applied but above all on the position of the electrodes. Very often, it is sufficient to move an electrode by just a few millimetres in order to obtain a greater contraction.
The habit of taking electrostimulation to maximum levels, often above the pain threshold, is a practice which should be done extremely carefully; the harmlessness of electrostimulation at high levels does not yet have any scientific backing, and any secondary effects regarding degenerative muscle damage, due to overstimulation, have not yet been sufficiently studied.
We do not know, in substance, if a high level of stimulation, at the limit of the pain threshold, can be damaging for muscle or nerve fibres. Usually, during the strengthening session, the patient is trained to increase the intensity every 3 or 4 contractions; this becomes almost essential, considering the progressive fatigue of the phasic fibres. In substance, the idea is to “replace” the lower level of strength produced, due to the inexcitability of certain fatigued fibres, with the recruitment of other muscle fibres, characterised by a higher excitation threshold. CAUTION! During electrostimulation, an analgesic effect is inevitably produced, through the hypersecretion of endorphins. Any pain caused by electrostimulation, which in some cases could act as a safeguard threshold, is attenuated by the analgesic effect of the electrostimulation itself. Common sense and moderation are always the best guide!Leave a reply