April 11, 2020 4 min read

Electric Muscle Stimulation mayseemlike it’s just popped up on the scene and taken the world by (electrical) storm. 


However, the principles of EMS have been used not just decades ago—but can be traced back through history to being present own our society for centuries!


Even though electricity might not have come to play back then, the actual earliest known use can be pinpointed to around 500 BC. 


From then on, it has gone through the centuries in development to become the EMS we know and use today. 


In this article, we’re going to take you through the history of EMS and outline its evolution to how it’s become the system being used today.


Taking It Back

From the beginning of time—or at least from around 500 BC, EMS has been used in certain ancient societies. 


Egyptian Culture 3150-332 BC:While fishing, Egyptians had noticed that specific fish species actually were emitting electrical impulses that other fish weren’t. By experimenting and figuring out how to best utilize that sort of power, the people figured out that they could use those species of fish to actually treat pain.


Greek and Roman Culture 700-480 BC:Piggy-backing off the Egyptians, these cultures also experimented with the electrical properties of fish. They took them and tested the power—using them like we would use the electric ray. Once they figured out that they contained sort of healing properties, they began to direct these fish’ powers to treat a number of different ailments.


More Recent Uses

However, the use of electrical muscle stimulation didn’t die out with those societies. 


It carried on again—but not until much later—in the18th century in Germany. 


To be exact, in the year1745, Altus Kratzstein, who was a German physician, actually took over the practice. He went on to write a book—the first one—that explains how electrical therapy works and how it could be used on the muscles. 


Later on, this German influence traveled to Italy, reaching the knowledge of Luigi Galvani, who was a physician and physicist. He started working with the early form of EMS right on animals and experimenting with the effects. 

Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, even took note—focusing on that power of electricity to manipulate, stimulate or as she wrote in her book, restart life.  


Fast forward to the19th century, 1831 to be exact. Electrical stimulation therapy was beginning to be used for motor paralysis, by Michael Faraday and the Faradization Technique. This sort of therapy then spread to common use throughout hospitals in 1840 in London, England. It even led to the eventual invention of the Electropathic Battery Belt by London’s The Medical Battery Company. 


Once the20th century hit, EMS was common knowledge, with more and more unique derivations of these devices emerging. Although they were not yet the portable devices we see today—actually rather bulky, heavy, and unpleasant—they were on their way to becoming more and more evolved. The use of EMS was now widespread to treat acute and chronic illnesses for about 40 years. Although they were commonly found in physicians’ offices, they still had not made it to the athletic scene…


—Until the 1976 Montreal Olympics. 


Soviet scientist Dr. Yakov Kots took the great leap into integrating this sort of technology into using it for sports


The USSR Olympic athletes were then being used as guinea pigs as the Dr. Kots experimented on the effects of EMS on their fitness performance in the games.


By raising the bar to 2,500 MHz frequency in his EMS application—or theRussian Stim, orKots Current—he noticed a difference and increase in the fast-twitch muscles. He concluded that that sort of stimulation can help increase the speed and strength of the individual’s athletic capability. 


And finally, press skip or fast forward until today, 2020, almost 50 years after it was used in an athletic setting. Today we see it even through the use of everyday wear! From being found in the natural power of an everyday fish to being used as a powerful asset in a training regimen, EMS has evolved into something we could never imagine. It has helped athletics and athletes around the world advance leaps and bounds in their everyday training and competition.


From being discovered in the power of natural fish found in the ocean to treatment used in England for chronic illnesses to Dr. Kots’ experimental use with the USSR Olympic team, EMS has traveled a long way to get to where it is today.


Now, EMS is being used with training sessions, as an everyday warm-up and recovery tool, and even in the setting of physical therapy—to rehabilitate an injury back to full health. 


How could the ancient civilizations have known that their discoveries of the properties from fish in the sea could be used in modern-day athletic movements to help people perform better on a daily basis? It’s probably impossible that they would have—but we are so glad they did! 

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