Tens Vs EMS – What’s The Difference Between These Devices?

Natalie Cecconi
Written by
Last update:

What is a TENS machine?

A TENS machine (or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation machine) is a small electronic device that is used for a variety of purposes.

The most common use is to stimulate the central nervous system to relieve pain. Other uses include promoting tissue healing, relieving muscle spasms, blocking pain during dental work and even inducing orgasms in the adult entertainment industry, of course.

If you have never experienced a TENS machine, it can be hard to imagine what one is.

Basically, it’s a small device that typically looks like a little box. It’s pretty big as far as a watch is concerned but certainly much smaller than a cell phone.

The outside of the machine has clips that can be attached to your body, a belt that can be worn around the waist, or wires that can be hooked directly to an applicator placed directly on the skin.

The machine itself comes with a power cord and a lead to connect to the applicator.

Certain machines also come with straps and different applicators to change the amount of sensation or area treated.

There are many varieties of TENS machines. Some are supplied by health insurers and are much more advanced than others. The machines used in the adult entertainment industry have an additional setting for enhancing the sensation of an orgasm.

What is an EMS machine?

Short for Electromyography, an EMS machine may save your life or the life of someone you love.

The way it works is through the stimulation of muscles and nerves that supply them.

If you were to use an EMS machine, you’d need to lie down on the bed and the EMS machine’s sensors would be hooked up on your muscles in any area that’s tense or you wish to work on.

Pressing the button on the device would then send a signal to the area or already tense muscles. That would cause the muscles and nerves to be stimulated in different ways.

You can choose a machine that’s for either small muscle groups or the whole body, depending on what your preference is.

If you are more troubled by physical ailments, you would be better off using a full body EMS machine.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to maintain a healthier body, a EMS machine for smaller muscle groups may be more appropriate for your fitness goals.

What are the main differences between these devices?

If you have done any amount of reading on muscle stimulations and their effects on building muscle, you have no doubt come across either or both of these devices.

When it comes to the science behind a muscle stimulation, they have the same basic principles.

Both of them contract and relax the muscles. They can both lead to the same type of muscle growth results.

The biggest difference between the two is the range of muscle groups that each can stimulate.

The tens unit is going to be effective for the muscles that are close to where it is placed, while an EMS device can be placed on the surface of a muscle group to stimulate that entire muscle group.

So the best place to stimulate the muscles of the upper back with a tens unit would be on the upper middle trapezius muscle in the shoulder.

It can be effective for the bicep muscles as well, but the primary muscle to focus on is the larger trapezius muscle.

To stimulate the triceps, however, you need to place the electrodes on the bicep muscles. You may not get a much of a deep tissue result that way, but you will get a full muscle stimulation.

Where the tens unit shines is on the smaller muscle groups. The smaller the muscle group, the more effective the tens unit is.

Which device should runners use?

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) … the kind that is used to strengthen weakened muscles … has grown in popularity among athletes who are eager to keep their muscles brimming with power and prepared to tackle any harsh conditions. But it’s not all that shiny and new. Tens … as electrical muscle stimulation is also known … has been around for over thirty years.

But EMS devices have only recently become extremely popular in recent years due to the popularity of wearable devices. One type of muscle stimulation device is the EMS Vest. The best-known EMS devices (gloves, arm belts, and computer devices) were popularized by professional baseball, football, and softball players. They’re used as a training aid to help the athletes’ muscles get strong through electric stimulation.

Tens … the other electrical muscle stimulation devices … is a drug-free way to manage pain and bring relief to the masses. Tens was developed to treat pain and as a treatment for muscle conditions, specifically orthopedic issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and a number of sports injuries, such as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).

Are there machines that do both?

Thanks to the latest developments in medical technology, there are now machines that can treat both ailments.

The TENS is a non-invasive device that applies low electrical currents to the skin. It is capable of stimulating the body's natural pain suppressants, known as endorphins.

The EMS is an invasive device that utilizes electro-stimulation to stimulate the muscles and nerves as the electrodes are placed directly on the body to control the flow of current.

The difference between EMS and TENS are that EMS tend to work faster but does not cause as much pain. TENS takes longer to help relieve pain, but it’s not as uncomfortable. Both work great to alleviate aches and pains.