EMS-Training ohne wissenschaftliches Fundament?

Prof. Dr. Nicola A. Maffiuletti im E-Interview


I really don’t see how whole-body EMS can represent a valid alternative or even a complement to conventional exercise (for fitness purposes). One of the main concerns I have in this sense is that EMS is only able to activate a limited portion of superficial muscles, and with an activation pattern that is quite artificial/non-physiological.

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Prof. Dr. Nicola A. Maffiuletti…
…ist Forschungsgruppenleiter im Neuromuscular Research Laboratory (NRL) der Schulthess Klinik in Zürich. 2011 hat er an der Fakultät der Sportwissenschaften an der Université de Bourgogne in Dijon habilitiert.
^^^ Weitere Infos zur Person

WB-EMS – schwer zu dosieren

You recently expressed the opinion that whole-body EMS training had been introduced too early, because there was too little scientific knowledge. To what extent and in which respect is the research situation particularly inadequate (in relation to other sports)?

Whatever form of exercise should be quantifiable (the dosage should be controlled) so as to have possible training or therapeutic effects. Unfortunately, whole-body EMS is quite difficult to dose properly, with a risk of both underdosage (no or minimal training/therapeutic effects) or overdosage (e.g., muscle damage).

Do you consider the factual situation of whole-body EMS training so incomplete that it is already negligent to carry out such a training?

I would not say negligent, but I really don’t see how whole-body EMS can represent a valid alternative or even a complement to conventional exercise (for fitness purposes). One of the main concerns I have in this sense is that EMS is only able to activate a limited portion of superficial muscles, and with an activation pattern that is quite artificial/non-physiological.

What do you advise EMS studio operators that point to the significantly higher accident rates and health risks of other sports?

I don’t think we can compare real sports to whole-body EMS; for sure EMS is not as safe as most of the forms of traditional exercise conducted for fitness purposes.

NMES und WB-EMS

What would you recommend full-body EMS athletes who can not get involved in any other sport? Should they prefer to do without sports?

I do not recommend whole-body EMS to athletes. Eventually I would recommend single-muscle EMS (that I call neuromuscular electrical stimulation) to athletes who have special needs or during and after disuse associated to an injury.

In your opinion, there is „a scientific justification“ and therefore „great potential“ for electrostimulation after accidents or operations. What is the difference between the facts and the situation? And to what extent the research results from the rehabilitation can be transferred to the whole-body EMS training?

Single-muscle neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been shown to successfully preserve and restore skeletal muscle form and function before, during and after disuse/immobilization induced for example by an injury and/or surgery. The scientific evidence is quite strong in this direction (this is not simply my opinion). Despite that, NMES is not universally adopted/appreciated in the clinical settings because we are still unable to explain all the underlying physiology. There is a strong link between NMES and whole-body EMS for some of these aspects (both physiological and methodological), but I don’t see how whole-body EMS can solve the problems that we already have with single-muscle NMES (in other words, for me this is only complicating things).

In Germany, a comprehensive study on whole-body EMS training has recently been started to close the gaps in the research situation. Do you think the research period of three years will be enough?

I’m sorry but I don’t know the details of the study; three years seems anyway quite an appropriate time period for answering good research questions

Vielen Dank für das Interview!


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