Using a TENS Unit for Your Athletic Training Program

By: Amy Nutt..

If you are looking for a way to reduce the pain you feel from a sports injury when you are working out, consider investing in a TENS unit. These devices can help you control your pain so that you can get the most out of your workout. TENS units are widely used in the physical therapy field to help patients control their pain while they rehabilitate their muscles. With the proper training, you can benefit from this same technology at home or at your favorite gym.

What Is a TENS Unit?

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A TENS unit uses electrical shocks to block pain signals that are being sent to the brain. It can also stimulate the body to create endorphins, which can increase the body?s ability to perform physical exercise.

How TENS Units Work

TENS units come with small electrode pads that already have gel on them. These are placed on the area that is experiencing pain. The small electrical shock delivered by the device will trigger the nerves in the area. Most users will feel a tingling sensation when they turn the device on. This can block the signal of pain to the brain when used at high dosages. Lower dosages are what trigger endorphin creation.

Who Can Use TENS Units?

Anyone can use a TENS unit with the proper training. However, since these do involve the use of electrical current, you should not use them without medical oversight. If you are recovering from a sports related injury, however, consider asking your physical therapist if you can be trained to use a TENS unit as you return to your sports training program. The device is going to be the most effective for athletes who are suffering from pain due to nerve damage. The common aches and pains that come from a rigorous workout are not what this device is intended to help.

Some people should not use a TENS unit, however. Children should not use the device, as its safety on growing bodies has not yet been tested. Any people with pacemakers or other similar electrical devices inside their bodies should never use a TENS unit. It can interfere with the proper functioning of the device, which can be life threatening.

Safety Concerns When Using a TENS Unit

TENS units are considered safe when used properly. However, there are certain places on the body where they should not be used. The electrodes should never be placed near the eyes or mouth. They also should not be placed on the temples. In fact, it is best not to use them on the face at all, as they could easily be placed too close to one of these sensitive areas.

The front of the neck is another place that the device should not be used. If you have any open wounds, do not put the electrode on them. Never place the device over the belly of a pregnant woman. In fact, pregnant women should not use a TENS device without first consulting with their obstetrician.

Once you have been trained by your doctor or physical therapist as to the best way to use the TENS device in your training program, make sure you resist the temptation to turn the frequency up too high. Remember, there is a limit to the pain relief you can experience with at TENS unit. Putting the frequency too high will actually cause you to have more pain. If you notice your muscles contracting near the electrodes, it is set too high. Otherwise, as long as you are properly trained and have followed these safety rules, you can use a TENS unit to reduce the pain from a past injury as you continue your workout routine.

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