Soft tissue injuries are a pest regardless of how physically active you are — and they sometimes pop up unexpectedly and at the worst times. Let’s talk about what soft tissue injuries are, specifically, and what you can do to treat them.
Wait, What’s Soft Tissue, Anyway?
Soft tissue generally refers to the tissues that provide vital functionality, stability, and support to other structures and organs of the body. There are various types of soft tissues, including muscle, fibrous tissue, fascia, nerves, blood vessels, lymph vessels, synovial membranes, tendons, and ligaments.
What Are the Different Types of Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injuries can occur not only during physical activities such as playing sports or training in the gym but also while doing simple, everyday activities. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, damages in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can often lead to soft tissue injuries.
It’s important for athletes to understand the most common types of soft tissue injuries in order to minimize the risk of sports injury and stay healthy both inside and outside the gym. The following are the types of injuries that fall under the soft tissue injury category:
- Contusion: A severe bruising caused by an impact that reaches the muscle, ligament, or tendon.
- Sprains: Occur when a ligament is torn or stretched caused by a wrench or twist.
- Tendonitis: Inflammation or irritation of the tendon. Most cases are often due to overuse or repetitive motion of the commonly affected areas such as knees, wrists, shoulders, and elbows.
- Bursitis: Commonly impacts the bursae, a fluid-filled sac situated between tendons and bones or muscles.
- Stress fractures: Occur when bones develop small cracks due to overuse and an increase in physical activity.
- Strains: The results of an injury to a muscle or tendon and are often due to sports-related activities.
What’s the Risk Factor of Soft Tissue Injury?
The biggest risk factor is perhaps the recurrence of a previous injury. An athlete returning to training after suffering from injury should be properly assessed and declared fit to play by a qualified sports medicine professional.
Treating Soft Tissue Injury With Electric Muscle Stimulation
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) using a device like PowerDot is extremely helpful in the healing process of soft tissues. This is made possible by the use of a very small electrical current into the affected tissue or chronic muscle spasms or cramps. Electric muscle stimulation utilizes this current in an effort to reduce swelling and release trigger points that may have locked up the muscle.
In addition, PowerDot acts as a nerve stimulator by sending safe, low-frequency electrical currents to the motor nerves throughout the body, which causes the muscles to contract. This improves blood circulation and increases body temperature.
Your electric muscle stimulation device is a great tool for therapy that works well in relaxing the affected area and allowing it to return to healthy, fully-functioning tissue once again. By increasing the production of the body’s natural pain reliever called endorphins, EMS helps the body to drastically reduce pain, speed up the healing process, and even improve performance.
Your PowerDot is able to accomplish this in two separate ways, more specifically. PowerDot can be used for both neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
NMES is what helps to increase blood flow and nutrient distribution. It can even be more efficient than a standard warm-up or workout in recruiting more muscle fibers. Ultimately, NMES increases strength, speeds recovery, and reduces the risk of soft tissue injury.
TENS is more commonly used for pain management, as it stimulates endorphin release. It sends electrical pulses across your skin and nerve strands. In doing so, it distracts the brain from pain signals, thus relieving some of your discomfort.
Using both the NMES and TENS features of your PowerDot device packs a serious punch when it comes to treating soft tissue injuries and the resulting pain.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, electric muscle stimulation’s primary use is to help patients recover muscle functions that are damaged due to injury or other medical conditions.
A Brief History of Electric Muscle Stimulation in Athletic Injury Management and Recovery
EMS has played a more prominent role in sports during the last few decades. It was first used for physical therapy and orthopedic rehabilitation, specifically to rehabilitate muscles after injury or surgery.
By the 1950s, coaches were using electric muscle stimulation as an integral part of their elite athlete training programs. It was in 1973 when Dr. Y Kots, a Russian scientist from the Central Institute of Physical Culture, presented a paper on electric muscle stimulation at Concordia University in Montreal. Dr. Kots claimed to be able to increase the strength gains of highly trained elite athletes by 30-40% using electric muscle stimulation methods.
Interestingly, in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Soviet Union athletes dominated the world. The Soviet Union (present-day Russia) won the highest number of gold medals (49) and overall medals (125).
Years after that, sports professionals attested and various research projects showed that treatments with EMS can lead to marked gains in strength enhancement and maximal voluntary contraction of the muscles.
The Uses and Other Benefits of PowerDot
There are many other benefits to EMS. The most common of these is a speeding up of the healing process of soft tissue injuries. Here are a few other benefits.
1. PowerDot Helps Improve Blood Circulation
Studies show that EMS can increase blood flow, especially when administered at lower frequencies, to muscle tissues. By creating contractions due to the electrical signals, electric muscle stimulation acts like a pumping system that dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow. Muscle stimulation encourages healing and improvement of motion.
2. EMS Facilitates Muscle Recovery
Recovery is paramount for athletes. In cases where speedy recovery is much needed, PowerDot can be used depending on the athlete’s needs. For better-conditioned athletes, electric muscle stimulation can be applied at a normal pace; but for athletes who are not in their best shape, muscle stimulation’s capacity can be increased at a faster rate without muscle exhaustion.
3. PowerDot Can Reduce Inflammation Caused by Injuries
The lymphatic system normally removes waste products from a swollen joint, and muscle contractions typically stimulate the lymphatic flow. However, if an injured person is unable to move their joint or contract their muscles, EMS can be used to produce low-frequency electrical current to pump through the muscle nerves and connective tissues that will get the swelling out of the joint.
4. EMS Can Improve Mobility
Mobility is important for everyone. Unfortunately, if you’re recovering from a sports injury, the limited movement might lead to hampered mobility.
PowerDot can penetrate deep into tissues and build up strength in the muscles. This will improve the level of functional mobility and will help you return to your normal activities, whether it’s carrying the groceries in the house or benching 200 pounds.
5. Electric Muscle Stimulation Can Help Reduce Muscle Spasms
A fatigued or “worn out” muscle can be a result of an injury due to constant aggravation and repeated contractions. In order to relieve the discomfort and tightness of the muscles, the electric pulses of electric muscle stimulation will cause the muscles to contract and encourage them to be in a more relaxed state.
If any kind of soft tissue injury is causing you pain or discomfort, PowerDot can help speed up your recovery, maintain excellent mobility, and improve strength over time.
If problems in your back or neck are affecting your quality of living, be sure to read our blog on how to relieve chronic back pain.
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