The Best TENS Units for Runners and Athletes in 2020

Natalie Cecconi
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If you are active, chances are that you have overused the muscles of your feet and shins and suffered as a result.

Injury can take you out of running at the best of times, but if you are in training for a race it can be devastating.

Too many runners put off treating shin splints for too long and they try to tough it out. It’s a classic case of pushing through the pain.

You end up with weeks or even months of downtime, spending time off your feet and hoping that your shins will heal. You may exercise more and more cautiously, overprotecting your shins.

The tens machine I reviewed below is a great way to help with your healing and prevent shin tenderness from happening in the future. It’s from the same company as the best TENS unit for back pain.

You’re not going to be popular with your partner if you spend a ton of time on your feet on a tens machine. Ten minutes will get the job done, however.

The tens machines below are superb for healing up your shins and preventing shin splints from happening again. They are convenient because they are easy to adjust and can be used in combination with ice, a compression sleeve, and a good pair of shoes to treat and prevent a common running injury.

NameCategoryProduct
Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle StimulatorBest Overall
Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle Stimulator
TENKER EMS TENS UnitBudget Pick
TENKER EMS TENS Unit
Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD DisplayUpgrade Pick
Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD Display

1. Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle Stimulator

Our rating: 9 / 10


Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle Stimulator

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Pros:

  • Dual channel
  • 24 modes
  • 10 massage heads included
  • Special modes for pregnant women, seniors, and athletes
  • Good design and quality materials
  • User friendly interface
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Reliable, durable and well made
  • Replaceable pads for long life
  • Timer for safe use

Cons:

  • No adapter included
  • Can’t adjust the intensity of the therapy
  • Don’t use it in the bath.
  • Very powerful for athlete’s.
  • Some customers get a US adapter, but some have to buy it separately.

2. AUVON Dual Channel TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator

Our rating: 9 / 10


AUVON Dual Channel TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator

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Pros:

  • Multiple uses and benefits – You can use it on your back, ankles, knee, shoulders, neck, elbows, hips, wrist, or even on your stomach
  • Safe, easy, and effective with over 20 modes of therapy
  • Rechargeable; no need to purchase batteries

Cons:

  • Difficult to operate because of the cumbersome design
  • The material around the electrodes is very thin, which can break with use

This TENS unit (thermal electrical nerve stimulator) features dual channels with 8 modes and a digital controller. The tens electrodes (24 count) are reusable and self-adhesive. A set of four exclusive safe gel pads are included with every purchase. There are two modes of intensity: low and high. It also has a pre-set mode, which includes: acupuncture, kneading, tapping, vibration, and cupping.

While this AUVON TENS unit is rechargeable, you may need to purchase a charging adapter to use in another part of the world. Check the compatibility before you purchase the AUVON TENS unit.

3. MEDVICE Rechargeable Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator

Our rating: 8 / 10


MEDVICE Rechargeable Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator

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The MEDVICE Tens Unit Muscle Stimulator (also known as a TENS machine) uses electrotherapy to help soothe and relax the body through a process of stimulating nerves. It has an FDA-approved construction and features 16 automatic massage modes, dual channels, 2-way auto-scan, 8-reusable pads, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

The rechargeable battery offers up to 4 to 5 hours of continuous use and charges fully in about 7 to 8 hours. Plus, it has a low voltage shut-off feature to help conserve the battery’s energy and to protect against overheating.

The 16 automatic massage modes provide a wide variety of options to help find a therapeutic one that agrees with your body best, ensuring maximum comfort and relaxation. The dual channels also provide you with plenty of options to target your desired muscles.

4. TENS Unit and EMS Combination Muscle Stimulator

Our rating: 8 / 10


TENS Unit and EMS Combination Muscle Stimulator

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Pros:

  • Equipped with both TENS and EMS
  • Pad size is 2.25–—5 inch
  • Can be used on back, neck, arm, leg, thigh, calves, abdomen, and foot
  • Has a 2 channels feature
  • Can be used for pain management, muscle rehabilitation, and even as part of a workout
  • 12 modes available
  • Automatic shut off shuts the unit off if your pain level reaches its peak or you forget to shut it off.
  • Easy to use and hook up
  • Excellent replacement for creams, ointment, and patches
  • Can be conveniently recharged with USB

Cons:

  • Does not come with any manual
  • It takes a few tries to learn how to use it
  • Switching between the modes can sometimes be confusing

5. TENKER EMS TENS Unit

Our rating: 8 / 10


TENKER EMS TENS Unit

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Pros:

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Great to take on trips

Cons:

  • May not be powerful enough for some users
  • Some buyers report an issue with durability

The TENKER is a portable EMR muscle stimulator that can be used while exercising or doing chores. It has 8 TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) modes that can be used to relax, rejuvenate, or relieve pain. What’s great about this model is that you can also charge it with your computer or laptop computer, thanks to the included USB cable.

This powerful electric muscle stimulator has 8 built-in TENS modes with adjustable intensity level. It uses 2pcs AAA battery which is included in retail package and has a total run time of 2-3 hours.

The TENKER features 8 rubber pads. Used to painlessly stimulate the muscles of your legs, back, arms, or neck. While, it also has an extra large LCD screen with a simple-to-use user interface that shows you the intensity level and time.

6. Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD Display

Our rating: 8 / 10


Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD Display

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Pros:

  • Delivers both TENS and EMS modes
  • Decently priced
  • Two year warrantee
  • Easy setup and use
  • Adjustable intensity (0-100)
  • Good battery life
  • Detachable belt electrode pads
  • Can be used as a physical therapy machine
  • Large LCD screen
  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • The machine may not come with spare parts
  • The battery doesn’t last for long if using the heat/pulsing modes at higher settings
  • One user found it inopportune that you can’t wear it during sleep

The Easy@Home Electronic Pulse Massager is a new portable TENS unit designed with runners, athletes, and other active people from all walks of life in mind. The unit includes two large electrodes that are pre-attached to the side straps of a detachable belt, so you can use it directly on your legs, back, or any area that needs to be massaged or relieved.

The pulses are strong, and can be adjusted from 0-100 on the LCD screen. This is important in ensuring that you do not overuse the machine and cause unnecessary pain or discomfort.

7. Beurer EM34 2-in-1 Knee & Elbow TENS Unit

Our rating: 8 / 10


Beurer EM34 2-in-1 Knee & Elbow TENS Unit

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Pros:

  • Tons of options and modes
  • Relatively cheap
  • Quick pain relief
  • High-quality pulse adjustment features
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Noisy
  • Low battery life
  • Pain relief is temporary

The Beurer EM34 2-in-1 Knee & Elbow TENS unit is a high-quality product that delivers an effective and convenient method of relieving joint and muscle pain. This machine has enough features to satisfy any athlete or active person, but it’s not overly complicated. This is primarily a knee TENS device, but it is also great for elbow pain.

This machine has 25 modes which means it's very diverse. One of its key advantages is the pulse mode, which allows you to adjust the intensity manually. This gives you complete control over the pain that you experience.

The Beurer EM34 2-in-1 Knee & Elbow TENS unit can also be used in combination with other implements. The elastic strap is pliable enough to fit most human arm and knee shapes.

8. TEC.BEAN Rechargeable Dual Channel TENS Units Muscle Stimulator Electronic Pulse Massager EMS TENS Machine

Our rating: 7 / 10


TEC.BEAN Rechargeable Dual Channel TENS Units Muscle Stimulator Electronic Pulse Massager EMS TENS Machine

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Pros:

  • Portable
  • Three pre-programmed massage modes – Quick, Fluid, and Wave
  • Long-lasting rechargeable batteries
  • Convenient continuous and burst modes
  • The strong magnetic plates are attached through magnetic disks in the back of the belt
  • The belt is easy to apply
  • The input and output is electronically balanced over dual channels
  • The operating mode is very private because it is strapped around your waist, minimizing a distracting display
  • Ideal for athletes and runners as it can stimulate both front and back sides of leg

Cons:

  • Manual recommends you use it at least 10-15 minutes per day
  • A little bulky

A TENS unit is a non-invasive and painless way to help you relax your muscles and relieve pain. Most TENS units are bulky and inconvenient but the TecBean EMS takes up much less space around your waist. The design of the belt is meant to optimally target the muscle for maximum power during use.

The three pre-programmed massage modes include: quick, fluid, and wave. There is also a built-in pulse amplitude fine-adjustment knob that allows you to create tiny pulses that target the areas you desire. Things like the timer display, input, and output levels are professionally designed and implemented.

9. TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit

Our rating: 7 / 10


TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit

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Pros:

  • LCD display
  • 20 automatic programs
  • 100% drug free – no side effects
  • Zero overheating
  • Great for beginners
  • The price is affordable
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Some buttons are not labeled
  • Power does not last very long

The TENS 7000 2nd Edition Digital TENS Unit is a drug-free electrical stimulation device that is designed to reduce pain and recover injured muscles.

What’s great about this device is that you can actually purchase the electrode pads and gel separately, so you don’t have to pay additional money for packages that you may or may not need. Also, the buttons are very easy to control and the LCD display is very easy to read, unlike other models.

The TENS 7000 offers a variety of different programs that you can choose from depending on how you want your device to be used. Although this device is designed to be used professionally by physiotherapists and doctors, it is also a great way for beginners to gain experience on how to control and use an electric pulse device.

10. 2020 Model 24 Modes Best tens EMS nmes Unit Machines Electric Electron Electronic Pulse Back Neck Legs Massagers Handheld

Our rating: 6 / 10


2020 Model 24 Modes Best tens EMS nmes Unit Machines Electric Electron Electronic Pulse Back Neck Legs Massagers Handheld

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Pros:

  • 24 modes: deep muscle, relief muscle, massage
  • 16 preset programs
  • 32 independent intensity levels of electrical stimulation, 8 intensity levels for each mode
  • 8pcs extra uesful pads
  • On/off switch
  • Removable power and charging cables
  • Controller with digital display and keypad
  • 8 connecting pads, 2.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Non-slip plastic handle
  • Easily detachable controller keypad

Cons:

  • Absence of detailed instructions
  • Small electrode pads
  • Weak handle
  • App’s syncing issues
  • Can be quite noisy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What TENS unit settings work best?

Many people still believe that using the TENS Unit only for pain relief for injuries and chronic conditions, but it is much more than that.

The TENS device can be used to activate muscles. If you haven't tried a TENS unit, this is a great way to give your muscles a break by taking away the aches and pain.

Using it daily is a great way to keep that soreness from aggravating your knees, lower back, and even your neck. It isn't like Acupuncture – it doesn't hurt, so don't worry about it. You should have better body flexibility and mobility, and you can exercise just as hard without those nagging pains from injuring your body.

Why would a TENS unit be used by an athlete?

TENS units relieve muscle pain for runners and other athletes by sending signals to the brain that block the sensation of pain. This is called Analgesia. The machine is just a tool to assist an athlete in reaching the state of Analgesia!

Sports injuries are often caused by trauma. Trauma can involve either a forceful movement or an impact to the body. In either case, the surrounding tissue is injured and will often result in pain.

TENS units can be used to relieve this pain in a safe way, without having to take unnecessary risks in order to obtain a similar relief. The machine can be used at home during the recovery process.

Can you overuse a TENS unit?

It is very likely that you can overuse a TENS if you don’t use it properly. There are some athletes who swear by the TENS unit as the best way to manage muscle pain and soreness.

But there are others who also report of using the TENS unit to have too much painkilling properties or too much muscle relaxation. Either way, it is clear that if you are using a TENS unit for longer durations or do it too frequently, there are risks that you might build up dependence on the TENS unit.

Please use a TENS unit only after consulting your doctor as he/she will advise you on the best way to use it. Your doctor will help you determine the best duration and frequency of the TENS sessions.

How do I choose a TENS unit?

When deciding what type of TENS unit you choose for your specific needs you should consider:

Mode of electrical stimulation: There are two common types of TENS “ Burst and Modulated. Both modes can be programmed to send various pulses of electrical stimulus.

Burst mode varies the time between pulses in a specific period of time.

Modulated mode delivers a consistent output in voltage.

Burst mode is best for treating muscle spasms.

Modulated mode is best for back pain, migraine, and for stimulating acupuncture points.

Programmable settings: Some TENS units also have a programmable feature that allows you to design your own pain-relieving therapy.

Battery life: TENS units are portable, with most of them running on 9V batteries. Select models, however, can use rechargeable batteries.

Conclusion

If you run regularly, then you know that aches and pains on a regular basis are pretty much par for the course. Sometimes they can be so bad that they affect your level of performance or even make it impossible to run all together, and all this when you want to be at your best to reach a new personal best. That’s why it’s important to invest in some good quality TENS Units for runners and athletes, helping you to reduce your aches and pains and get back out on the course to run as you can.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle StimulatorBest Overall
Belifu Dual Channel TENS EMS Unit 24 Modes Muscle Stimulator
TENKER EMS TENS UnitBudget Pick
TENKER EMS TENS Unit
Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD DisplayUpgrade Pick
Easy@Home Professional Grade Rechargeable TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager,Backlit LCD Display