EMS Training Improves Posture
Core Muscle Strength
Based on research done by Justin Pienaar, Alex Johl and Martin Gerry Gerhardt.
Most contemporary modern lifestyles pose a relatively unique challenge to the human musculoskeletal and locomotor system. One-dimensional and single-sided activity patterns, such as driving, office work, meetings, and even most activities at home contribute to many hours in the day in a seated position. While this often appears to be a position of comfort and choice, multiple studies have shown that the sitting position for the human body is characterized by a very low activation of core muscles and most of the load is transmitted to passive structures of the body and leads to the degeneration of the spinal stability. This is often the cause for lower back pain, contributes to degenerative spinal diseases and further increases the risk of sport-related injuries. Due to the potential to activate a large number of muscles that stabilize the spine and the hip simultaneously and due to the long muscle contraction time (10 minutes time under tension), a single 20-minute whole-body EMS training session per week could be sufficient to improve core muscle strength and posture.
Research description and outcome
While previous research findings have shown positive effects of EMS training for the improvement of maximum strength, speed and explosiveness, this study aimed to contribute to the still scarce knowledge on how whole-body EMS training affects core muscle strength and posture.
Therefore, a group of 25 men between 25 and 49 years of age (average age 35,6 years) was tested before and after 8-weeks of EMS training. All research participants were regularly physically active (at least twice per week) and continued with their usual training, only adding one additional 20-minute EMS training session per week.
The analysis of the test data showed highly significant posture improvement after the EMS training, with an average improvement of 11,3% per participant, which can potentially lead to increased spinal stability and the prevention of back injuries or pains. The results further show that posture and core muscle strength significantly improved after the 8-weeks EMS training. The assessment of core muscle strength consisted of a total of 4 different performance test (repetitions until failure) and the results show a highly significant performance increase of 54,5% (varying from 47,6% - 62,1% performance improvement, please see details in table) after the EMS training.
In conclusion, these findings support previous research in that a controlled, dynamic and bodyweight-only EMS training stands out as a best-practice methodology to effectively improve posture and increase core muscle strength for physically inactive and physically active individuals.