Recovering with the Compex Sport enables you to eliminate lactic acid, increases blood flow, and stimulates endorphins. It is this combination that eliminates all pain, making the muscle perfectly relaxed and ready to work again. An added benefit of recovering with the Compex Sport is this technique does not impose an increase in general and cardiovascular fatigue that comes from jogging or swimming. Neither does it demand mental effort or impose great osteotendinous stresses.
Using Compex Sport, active recovery consists of a single 20-minute ES session. The session begins by stimulating the muscles at a low frequency of between 9 and 10Hz and decreases progressively and automatically every two minutes until it reaches the very low frequency of 1Hz. This applies a very specific level of activity to the muscle fibers, which helps them recover more efficiently and reduces cramps to a minimum. As the frequency falls, the pulses automatically increase in amplitude to penetrate the muscle fibers more deeply and more thoroughly.
Muscle fatigue is caused by the accumulation of lactic acid (12 and 13). Processes that speed up the elimination of lactic acid therefore improve muscle recovery (14). We know that lactic acid elimination is significantly accelerated by intense aerobic physical activity at around 30% to 60% of VO2max (15 and 16). The ideal way of eliminating lactic acid seems to be a level of activity that begins at 60% of VO2max and reduces slowly to 30%. Within 30 minutes of ending approximately ten minutes of VMA activity, blood lactic acid concentration of 11mlMole/l) falls to 3.5 after complete rest, to 2 after constant activity at 35% of VO2max and to 1.2 (the normal resting rate) after activity whilst decreasing the work rate from 60% to 30% of VO2max(17).
Active ES recovery using Compex Sport offers the added advantage of reducing the intensity of activity. The first few minutes of stimulation (at 9Hz) impose muscle fiber activity at a relatively high percentage of VO2max, a level that reduces progressively with the frequency (18). In terms of lactate reduction rate, this technique follows the ideal active aerobic recovery protocol, but with none of the potential problems of increased mental, general cardiovascular and osteotendinous fatigue.
INCREASE BLOOD FLOW
The increased blood flow in specific tissues and muscles means faster recovery of cell function and balance, especially in terms of the interstitial liquid. As blood flow increases, the toxin elimination (intracellular H+) rate accelerates and the ionic balance (extracellular K+) and glycogen reserves are regained faster. The water, mineral salts and carbohydrates delivered by food will further aid recovery.
It has been successfully demonstrated that high quality ES definitely increases arterial blood flow in muscle masses subjected to stimulation (19). This increase in arterial flow is considerable with the rate being four times that of the body at rest, but with the great advantage that this is obtained with no increase in heart rate or arterial pressure, i.e. with no added general fatigue. The frequency delivering the maximum increase is 8Hz (10). Furthermore, the venous return blood flow rate is also increased by the same factor as the arterial flow, thus delivering the genuine venous drainage that is so effective against the sensation of heavy legs. It is also believed that the mechanical effect of the successive muscular spasms applying pressure to the vascular structures (the pump effect) improves lymphatic drainage.
Our central nervous systems naturally produce varying quantities of peptides, which have the ability to use the same receptor sites as morphine. These peptides can therefore deliver pain relief (the analgesic effect), as well as general muscle relaxation and reduced anxiety. These natural substances are called endorphins and encephalins and it has been known for several years that production of both substances can be increased by a variety of stimuli, but especially by electrical pulses (20, 21 and 22). Which is why this technique is commonly known as electroacupuncture. The analgesic effect is most pronounced at a pulse frequency of 5Hz (23).
After eliminating lactic acid (at 9-10Hz) and increasing blood flow (at 8Hz), the progressive decrease in frequency will cause the active recovery session to produce the “endorphin” effect (at 5Hz), thus reducing or even eliminating pain. The increased production of endorphin creates an analgesic effect and general muscle relaxation. In addition to this general relaxation, stimulation at the lowest frequencies (from 3 to 1Hz) produces a local relaxation effect in the muscle masses directly subjected to stimulation.
ES has been used medically for some years to modify muscle tone (24). This local relaxing or “tonolytic” effect is maintained for several hours after stimulation and enables better control of the movements made using these muscles (25). Results obtained empirically show that the maximum relaxation effect on healthy muscles after intense work is delivered at very low frequencies of 1 to 3Hz (26 and 27).
After eliminating lactic acid (at 9-10Hz) and increasing blood flow (at 8Hz), the progressive decrease in frequency will cause the active recovery session to produce the “endorphin” effect (at 5Hz), thus eliminating all pain. The local relaxation effect is then obtained during the last few minutes of the session by use of the lowest frequencies. The muscle is then perfectly relaxed and ready to work again.
(10)Rigaux, P.(1995) Influence de la frequency de stimulation neuromusculaire électrique de la jambe sur le débit artériel fémoral. [Influence of on the femoral arterial flow of the frequency used in electrical neuromuscular stimulation of the leg] J Mald Vascu (Paris) 20: 9-13
(12) Jacobs, I Blood lactate: implications for training and sport performance. Sports Med., 3:10, 1996
(13) Hogan, M.C. Increased lactacte in working dog muscle reduces tension development independent of pH. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 27: 371, 1995
(14) MacArdle & Katch Exercice Physiology Williams & Wilkins
(15) Mac Lellan, TM Blood lactate removal during active recovery related to aerobic threshold Int. J. Sports Med., 3: 224, 1982
(16) Gladden, L.B. Lactate uptake by skeletal muscle. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews Vol 17, Pandolf ed. New York Macmillan 1989
(17)Dodd, S Blood lactate disappearance at various intensities of recovery exercises. J. Appl. Physiol. 57: 1462; 1984
(18)Hoppeler H. Relation between mitochondria and oxygen consumption in isolated cat muscles (Estimation of oxygen consumption during stimulation) J. Physiol. 385: 661; (1987)
(19)Rigaux, P. Augmentation du débit artériel fémoral sous electrostimulation neuromusculaire de la jambe. [Increase in femoral arterial flow as a result of neuromuscular electrosimulation of the leg] Kinésithérapie Scientifique, 357: 7-13; 1996
(20) Synder-Mackler Clinical Electrophysiology 210 Williams & Wilkins 1989
(21) Holmgren, E Increase of pain threshold as a function of conditioning electrical stimulation; an experimental study with application to electroacupuncture for pain Am. J. Chin. Med. 3: 133; 1975
(22) Chapman CR Effects of intrasymental electrical acupuncture on central pain Pain 3: 213; 1977
(23) Andersson SA Analgesic effects of peripheral conditioning stimulation: importance of certain stimulation parameters. Acupunct Electrother Res 2: 237; 1977
(24) Wal J.B. Modulation of spasticity: prolonged suppression of a spinal reflex by electrical stimulation. Science 216: 203; 1982
(25) Carnstan B. Improvement of Gait following electrical stimulation Scand J Rehab Med 9: 7-13; 1977