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How to use a TENS units & EMS machines for quadriceps muscle pain relief? Placement of electrode pads

The quadriceps are one of the most powerful muscles in the anatomy, and together with the gluteus muscles, they are responsible for providing acceleration at the start of the race. That is to say, in them lies a great part of the power of the first impulse that we make when running, a moment in which they are under tremendous tension.

That is why they tend to be the most injured muscles in high-performance athletes, but they are also the ones that tend to lose the most elasticity over the years, which makes them a magnet for injuries. But luckily electrotherapy can be a great ally to avoid these injuries and relieve the pain generated by these in its TENS and EMS electrotherapy modalities.

How to use a TENS machine to relieve quadriceps pain?

TENS therapy is one of the best ways to relieve pain in the thighs, especially in the quadriceps, and although at first it was spoken of as a pseudoscience, there are now enough studies that praise its use to treat ailments without using analgesic drugs. Its influence on the activity of the femoral and saphenous nerves is such that it can even be used to prevent the onset of neuropathies.

Among its many benefits we can highlight:

  • Pain relief: thanks to its ability to alter the nerve functions of the femoral or crural nerve, and the saphenous nerve, as well as all the nerve branches of the same, by applying currents that oscillate in various intensities to "confuse" the brain.
  • Increase of the pain threshold: since it will alter the receptors of the femoral nerves and their muscular ramifications, so that they require more neurotransmitters to send a noxious impulse signal to the body. This will result in a considerable increase in the pain threshold tolerated by the user.
  • Reduces the production of neurotransmitters: chemical substances such as serotonin or acetylcholine will stop being produced as quickly, which will considerably slow down nerve-brain communication so that you can feel the pain resulting from a muscle injury in the quadriceps.
  • Stimulates vasodilation: this will improve the blood supply to the quadriceps to generate a natural analgesic effect. This will help maintain relief in the muscle for longer after the session is over.
  • Avoid the use of drugs: painkillers are the fastest option to relieve pain in the thighs and quadriceps, but also the least recommended because of the dependency and side effects they have. TENS therapy saves you from having to use them and offers a much more natural form of pain relief.

However, it is convenient to say that TENS therapy is not going to cure you of your quadriceps injury, so you can not ignore the treatment that your specialist has indicated. You should simply use it to relieve pain that may be caused by injuries such as:

  • Tears.
  • Strain.
  • Contracture.
  • Pinched femoral nerve.

Best TENS machines for quadriceps injury recovery

Now that you are clear about the benefits of this therapy, it is time for you to know the most recommended TENS devices you can buy to relieve your quadriceps pain.

IRELIEV - DUAL CHANNEL TENSION PAIN RELIEF MASSAGER SYSTEM WITH 8 MASSAGE MODES
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 8 Modes
  • Intensity: 25 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: 3 AAA Batteries
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 2.14" x 5.5" x 7.08" - 0.33 lbs
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Portable and small size
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Good quality
  • Few types of programs
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
  • Battery operated
This electric massage unit provided by iReliev is one of the most versatile and, at the same time, simplest electrostimulation machines you can find, with 8 predefined modes of use 25 adjustable intensity levels, you can program it to fit your body's needs. Additionally, its dual channel function allows you to program more than one massage mode simultaneously to treat multiple areas of the body.

It has an interesting session timer function that allows you to adjust the duration of each therapy up to a maximum of 60 minutes. Its compact size allows it to be carried in your pocket, so you can take it with you from home to work, or on the road, and use it whenever you need it.

Belifu - Dual channel electromuscular stimulator with 24 modes and 10 electrode pads
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 24 Modes
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 20 hours)
  • Electrodes: 10 Pads
  • Display: Touch
  • Size: 5.12" x 2.56" x 0.39" - 0.35 lbs
  • Portable and small size
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Long battery life (up to 20 hours)
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Not for muscle hypertrophy
  • Does not include user manual
  • No heat therapy
The Belifu muscle stimulator is the perfect combination of TENS and EMS electrostimulation modalities, through which you can apply massages to relieve pain in a natural way, as well as generate muscle contractions that increase the size, strength and tone of the muscle, all in a completely safe and natural way, stimulating the body's natural processes.

It has 24 modes of use and 20 intensity levels that can be applied in isolation to each of the device's channels thanks to its dual channel function, allowing different therapies to be applied to separate areas of the body. In addition, it has a session timer mode and automatic shut-off that will allow you to give greater efficiency to your sessions and make better use of the energy of its high-capacity lithium battery.

Etekcity - TENS unit machine for pain relief with 4 channels and 8 electrode pads
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 15 Programs
  • Intensity: 20 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • Independent control mode
  • Instant pain relief
  • 20 intensity levels
  • 15 different working modes
  • Portable device
  • Battery life not specified
  • Does not specify dimensions and weight
  • No heat therapy
The Etekcity massage unit offers one of the most comprehensive pain relief experiences you will find in a device of this type, with an innovative 4-channel function that allows you to apply different types of massage to individual areas of the body, increasing the effectiveness of electrostimulation therapy and delivering far superior results.

All its modes of use are FSA and HSA approved, making it completely safe for anyone to use. It can be operated and set up very easily. The package includes reusable electrodes coated with adhesive gel in 3 sizes: 2 units of 2x4 inches, 4 units of 2x2 inches and 2 units of 1.5x1.5 inches.

TENS 7000 - TENS unit for pain management, back pain and rehabilitation with 4 electrode pads
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: Dual
  • Modes/Programs: 5 Modes
  • Intensity: 10 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Battery
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 8.8" x 2" x 7.8" - 1.15 lbs
  • Includes user manual
  • Prevents muscle atrophy
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Non-universal electrode replacements
  • Not suitable for muscle hypertrophy
  • Few types of programs
The TENS 7000 has one of the most complete models of electrostimulator, which includes a wide variety of functions and accessories. It is a digital unit that combines TENS and EMS technologies together with an innovative dual channel function that allows you to apply these electrostimulation modalities on different parts of the body simultaneously.

The TENS 7000 muscle stimulator includes one of the most complete electrical stimulation therapy packages you will find. It includes 1 TENS 7000 unit, 2 guide cables, 4 packs of reusable pads, 1 9-volt battery, 1 instruction manual and a hard case to carry your electrostimulation equipment wherever you want.

Med-Fit - 4 channels stimulator with 8 electrodes pads for pain relief fully rechargeable
  • Type: TENS
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 24 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • 4 independent channels
  • Provides cramp relief
  • Portable Device
  • Promotes tissue healing
  • 24 programs
  • Few electrodes
  • Does not specify battery life
  • Does not specify intensity and size
The Med-Fit model BAL-906ª is a very complete rechargeable electrostimulation device of premium quality that has an incredible function of 4 individual channels that will give you a great coverage and a perfect effectiveness when applying different electrical massages simultaneously. It also has a large LCD screen that makes it especially easy to operate, so you can program your sessions with great ease.

It has 24 clinically proven massage programs, which are divided into 12 TENS therapy programs and 12 muscle stimulation training modes. It has a long-life rechargeable lithium battery that will give you a great autonomy of several hours of continuous use, eliminating the extra cost of buying replacement cylindrical batteries.

How to use an EMS muscle electro stimulator for the quadriceps?

Muscle electrostimulation works very differently from TENS, since the latter is based on direct stimulation on the muscle. Although it is not recommended to apply it on a quadriceps injured by a contracture, tear or cramp, it can be of great help to strengthen them.

Among the main benefits of EMS therapy we can highlight:

  • Improves muscle response: as it will allow each explosive movement to recruit and activate quadriceps fibers much faster, which will undoubtedly give you more power when you start a run or attempt a jump.
  • Reduces fatigue: since using EMS on a regular basis will allow you to reduce the oxygen consumption of the soft tissues of the quadriceps, which will cause them to weaken much slower than they normally would. This will be key to allowing you to perform to the best of your abilities for longer.
  • Strengthen your quadriceps: since EMS training will be similar to what you do in the gym, it will allow you to strengthen your quadriceps as you make your electrotherapy sessions a habit.
  • Avoid injuries: by reducing fatigue and strengthening the muscle fibers of your quadriceps you will make them more resistant to injuries such as cramps, strains or sprains, so that you will not have to stop enjoying your favorite sport because of any ailment.

Best EMS electrostimulators to strengthen thigh muscles

Now we introduce you to the best muscle electrostimulation machines you can use to strengthen your quadriceps.

Compex Sport Elite 3.0 - Muscle Stimulator with TENS & 10 programs for improve muscle performance
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes/Programs: 10 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (8 hours)
  • Electrodes: Not specified
  • Display: LCD
  • Size: Not specified
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Accelerates recovery from sports injuries
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Long battery life (up to 8 hours)
  • Does not specify intensity levels
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • No heat therapy
The Compex Sport Elite 3.0 is the next step in the fitness branch of the Compex line of units. It is a completely redesigned and upgraded version of the SP series electro stimulators, built with water resistance, an improved LCD display, a central navigation button and many other new features.

It has a total of 10 programs, which are divided into 2 warm-up programs, 2 strength enhancement programs, 3 recovery enhancement programs, and 2 TENS massage programs to reduce pain. With the Elite 3.0 you can take your workouts to the next level by being able to use it at any stage of your workout, before, during or after.

iReliev - Portable wireless therapeutic system TENS + EMS w/ 2 electrodes for pain relief
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 14 Programs
  • Intensity: 25 Levels
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium (up to 5 hours)
  • Electrodes: 2 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Improves joint mobility
  • Portable and small size
  • Does not specify measurements and weight
  • No heat therapy
  • Non-universal electrode replacements
The iReliev electrostimulator offers users the perfect combination of an electrical pulse massage for the relief of pain caused by injury and illness, and a muscle trainer that uses a slightly more powerful current to generate activity in the muscles. Its wireless operating system is managed by a remote control included in the box.

It has 14 operating programmes dedicated to particular functions. 7 are designed for pain relief, 1 is designed to treat arthritis, and the remaining 6 are different muscle conditioning modalities. In addition to the controller, the box includes 2 wireless pods, 2 reusable 3x5 inch adhesive electrodes, a rechargeable lithium battery, a USB charging cable, a carrying case and an instruction manual.

PowerDot 2.0 - App-controlled wireless TENS & EMS smart device (black model)
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: -
  • Modes/Programs: 15 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Heat Therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium
  • Electrodes: 4 Pads
  • Display: No display
  • Size: Not specified
  • TENS+EMS Combo
  • Control from mobile app
  • Reduces pain symptoms
  • Includes user manual
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Does not specify dimensions and weight
  • Battery life not specified
  • Does not specify intensity levels
This surprising and revolutionary electro stimulator from PowerDot presents one of the most comfortable and complete designs on the market. It is the PowerDot 2.0, an electrostimulation device designed to work by means of a convenient and simple mobile application, available for Android and iPhone mobiles. Its design and functionality is aimed at muscle recovery and pain relief through the application of electrical impulses to the nerves in the affected area.

With more than 400 modes of use and a variety of intensity levels, the PowerDot 2.0 is one of the most complete electro stimulators available, as its functions focus on muscle recovery, improved physical performance, and pain relief. All these features make it the leading choice for the immediate treatment of any pain, whether caused by injury or illness.

Quad Stim - Portable muscle stimulator for electrotherapy by Quad Stim with 4 channels
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 8 Programs
  • Intensity: Not specified
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: 4 AA
  • Electrodes: 8 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: 5.43 x 3.07 x 1.1 in - 1.1 lbs
  • Includes carrying case
  • No effort required
  • Portable device
  • Promotes tissue healing
  • Independent control mode
  • No heat therapy
  • No rechargeable battery
  • No intensity specified
The Quad Stim portable electrostimulation unit is one of the most versatile devices you will find on the market. It seamlessly combines TENS and EMS electrostimulation technologies, as well as a 4-channel function that maximizes the results of your workouts and therapies by allowing you to apply different types of massage to various parts of the body at the same time.

It has 8 customizable massage modes, which are divided into 5 TENS therapy modes, and 3 EMS stimulation modes, which together with its pulse rate adjustment function, make it one of the most versatile electrostimulation machines you can find. It works with 4 cylindrical AA batteries that give the device great portability and allow you to take it wherever you want.

Laspi - 4-channel TENS/EMS muscle stimulator with 20 modes and 8 electrode pads
  • Type: Combo
  • Channels: 4
  • Modes: 20 Programs
  • Intensity: 40 Levels
  • Wireless: No
  • Heat therapy: No
  • Battery: Rechargeable
  • Electrodes: 12 Pads
  • Display: Digital
  • Size: Not specified
  • Includes 40 intensity levels
  • Portable device
  • 12 pads with different sizes
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Features 20 modes
  • Somewhat slow charging
  • No size specified
The Laspi brand of products has an electrostimulation machine designed to maximize the results of your workouts through a complete massage therapy provided by TENS and EMS technologies, which will allow you to combat acute and chronic ailments, as well as increase the results of your exercises by stimulating muscle growth.

It has a function of 4 individual channels that will allow you to apply different massage programs in various areas of the body, in addition to 3 programs that together give you more than 20 options between TENS, EMS and recovery massages, 40 levels of intensity and time control function that will allow you to define the duration of each session.

Video: How to place the electrodes pads on the quadriceps?

Electrodes for thigh

Electrodes for quadriceps
Electrodes for quadriceps
Electrodes for quadriceps

More types of EMS stimulators and TENS machines you should know about

Most common types of quadriceps injuries

Anatomically, the function of the quadriceps femoris is to extend the knee and flex the thigh at the hip joint. These two actions are essential for us to walk, otherwise the knees would buckle from simply standing. So they are two vital muscles for the functioning of the lower extremities.

Among the most common injuries of this part of the body we can highlight:

  • Quadriceps rupture: consists of the tearing of the muscle fibers that make up the quadriceps femoris. This injury is usually the result of the accumulation of wear and tear of the soft tissue of the muscle, which weakens and breaks when an intense effort is sustained for several seconds, such as a 100-meter flat race. It manifests itself with acute pain and even muscle deformity which, depending on the extent of the rupture, may require surgical intervention.
  • Cramps: occur when a section of the quadriceps contracts involuntarily and is maintained for a few seconds, which generates severe pain. Its occurrence is related to overexertion of the muscle, but also to poor hydration of the athlete, and manifests with hardening of the contracted muscle area in addition to the aforementioned pain.
  • Contusion: occurs when the quadriceps receives a blow that generates an internal injury of the muscle fibers, which can become inflamed or, in the worst case, break generating a tear or muscle rupture. It is possible that the pain is maintained for several days as if it were a muscle strain or DOMS as a result of training, since some studies indicate that this damage can also cause muscle hypertrophy.
  • Femoral nerve impingement: occurs when a section of the nerve that goes from the lumbar area to the shin bone becomes inflamed or contracts, generating intense pain that may be accompanied by numbness in the affected leg, and the pain may even be transferred to the buttocks or calves, since this nerve also connects to the tibial nerve.
  • Muscle contracture: similar to cramp, this injury is characterized by the involuntary contraction of a section of the quadriceps femoris, with the difference that in this case it is maintained for several days or even weeks, which requires physiotherapeutic treatment in order to reduce it and then start the rehabilitation of the muscle.

Differences between TENS and EMS: Which one to use for quadriceps pain?

To relieve pain in the legs we can resort to electrotherapy in its TENS and EMS modalities. The first one is called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and what it does is to apply electricity directly on the femoral nerve and the saphenous nerve to affect their ability to send signals with information about a harmful impulse to the spinal cord, and subsequently to the brain.

In addition, it also prevents the production of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are the ones that activate the nerve to send the pain information, generating a relief in the user.

The second is EMS therapy or muscular electrostimulation. This works by sending electrical impulses continuously to the quadriceps to make them contract in the same way they do when running or jumping, or when doing weighted squats in the gym.

Although the muscle work is not the same as when applying weights, the strengthening of muscle fibers is very valuable for people who do not have time to attend training centers.

Each of these therapies are different, mainly in two aspects; the sensation and the type of stimulation. What you will feel when applying TENS will be a tingling sensation on the skin of the quadriceps, while with EMS you will feel the immediate contraction of the quadriceps. This is because while the first acts on the nerves, the other acts directly on the muscle.

So, knowing this information, the ideal therapy to relieve pain in the quadriceps is transcutaneous nerve electrostimulation, since it is designed precisely for this purpose, while muscle electrostimulation is more effective for strengthening muscles and avoiding injuries such as cramps, tears or contractures.

Contraindications in the use of electrodes and electrotherapy

</p> <h3>Contraindications for electrode placement</h3> <p>
The placement of the electrodes is of utmost importance in electrotherapy, whether TENS or EMS, so here are some things to keep in mind before starting a session:

  • Symmetrical placement: the negative and positive poles of each electrode should be connected symmetrically. That is to say, if we use two pads, we should use one positive and one negative pole on each one, while if we use four, the equivalence should be two positive and two negative.
  • Do not cross the electrodes: you cannot use one electrode in the lower train and another in the upper train and more importantly, never cross the electrodes from the left side to the right side of the body and vice versa, since the current path can negatively affect the patient's health. For this reason it is always recommended to use the electrodes in a localized way.
  • Motor point: at least one of the electrodes, whether positive or negative, must be positioned over the motor point, which is the point where the greatest force is achieved in the muscle in question.
  • Control the intensity: the size of the muscle must be taken into account when choosing the intensity of the current, since the less volume and size the muscle has, the lower the tolerated intensity will be.
  • Be careful with the skin: EMS or TENS should not be used on recently depilated areas since the pores will be open and this could generate skin sensitivity. Do not use on irritated or reddened areas, open wounds or recent scars.
</p> <h3>Contraindications for the use of electrostimulation</h3> <p>
Being a therapy that applies currents to the body, it cannot be used for all conditions, therefore its use should be avoided in cases where the user suffers from the following conditions:

  • Epilepsy.
  • Cardiac pacemakers.
  • Circulation disorders and problems.
  • Abdominal or inguinal hernias.
  • Neurological disturbances.
  • Tendency to bleed.
  • Skin irritation, burns or wounds.
  • Diseases that affect muscle metabolism, such as diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome (diabetes, hypertension and obesity).
  • High uric acid levels.
  • Metabolic disorders and metabolic pathologies.
  • Inflammatory pathologies.

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