Tight muscles is a common thing, and it affects our ability to move freely and without pain, exercise, and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Lower back pain and tightness has increased dramatically in the past few years. 

The increase in the tension of the contractured muscle fibres and the crushing of the capillary network resulting from this causes a decrease in the blood flow and a gradual accumulation of acid metabolites and free radicals. This muscular “acidosis“ is directly responsible for the pain, which in turn sustain and reinforce the degree of contracture. If left untreated, there is a risk that the contracture will become chronic and real atrophy of the capillary network will gradually develop; the aerobic metabolism of the muscle fibres deteriorates, giving way to glycolytic metabolism, which gradually becomes predominant. This mechanism of chronic contracture is summarised in the following diagram:

Compex Pain Management Electric Muscle Stim TENS Unit

In addition to the general effect of increasing endorphin production (which raises the pain perception threshold), stimulation with an endorphinic programme produces marked local hyperaemia and allows drainage of acid metabolites and free radicals. The major analgesic effect obtained in this way during each session should not, however, lead to premature termination of treatment. Indeed, in order to restore the previous atrophied capillary network, the treatment must be continued for a minimum of ten sessions or so.

it must be ensured that the stimulation energy levels are sufficient to obtain clearly visible muscle twitches (leading to a marked hyperaemic effect) so that the acid metabolites swamping the capillary bed of the contractured muscle can be drained away.

What Compex program should I use?

The most recommend program for chronic muscle contractures is a combination of the "Muscle Pain" program under the "Pain Management" category of programs (this program is also called "Endorphinic" on the old range of Compex devices) and the "Reduce Muscle Tension Program, also under the "Pain Management" category of programs. 

A number of study publications concerning pain reduction by increasing the level of secretion of endorphins shows that the electrical impulses  have to be sufficient for excitement of type Aδ nervous fibres as well as type Aα. This means producing muscle twitches at low frequencies (1 muscle twitch per second and 5 muscle twitches per second), which is offered by both Compex Pain Management programs mentioned above.

In addition to the effect of increasing the production of endorphins at the level of the hypothalamus (a small portion of the brain in which one of the major functions is regulating the Autonomous Nervous System) – which reveals the threshold of pain perception – there exists a local effect of primary importance. The five muscle twitches induced by the stimulation produce a very significant increase in blood flow which drains the metabolic acids and free radicals that were accumulated in the chronically contracted muscular zones.

Where should I place the electrodes?

We always recommend you to follow the Electrode Placement Guide provided with your Compex units. Considering the above programs will be producing strong muscle twitches as opposed to only stimulating the sensory nerve fibres (which is the difference between Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS)), electrode placement is important and the human anatomy should be taken in consideration.  

Identify the desired muscle group you want to work on, and follow the electrode placement provided accordingly in order to achieve optimal results.

You can also learn more about Electrode Placement here.  

What intensity level should I use?

Because this is a program producing muscle twitches, the Compex Muscle-Intelligence Technology will give you what is the optimal level of intensity to be used based on the scan it conducts prior the stimulation session. The optimal level of intensity is 100% personalised to your unique physiology, at this particular time. As mentioned above, strong and visible muscle twitches are required in order to drain away the acid metabolities.


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Compex is part of the DJO Global family,. DJO is multinational orthopedic medical device company and we can assist you to get and keep moving. From prevention to recovery, DJO Global enables people to live their lives to the fullest by providing intelligent medical technologies and services. #MotionIsMedicine