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Electrical Stimulation Review

Michelle Schiwart
Summary of “Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation training on muscle size in
collegiate track and field athletes” by Taku Wakahara & Ayumu Shiraogawa
Electrical Stimulation is used for many purposes, in the athletic training field it is
mostly used as a therapeutic modality to decrease pain. A pair of researches had the
idea to test the limits of electrical stimulation and see if it could be used for something
else being, abdominal hypertrophy. Can electrical impulses have an impact on one’s
physique? That is the question Taku Wakahara and Ayumu Shiraogawa attempt to
answer in their research study by examiming “the effects of neuromuscular electrical
stimulation training for 12 weeks on the abdominal muscle size in trained athletes”
(Wakahara 2019).
Wakahara and Shiraogawa executed their study by focusing on male collegiate
track and field athletes for a duration of 12 weeks. Before the start of the experiment all
athletes’ abdominal muscles and subcutaneous fat thickness were measured using
magnetic resonance and ultrasound imaging. The athletes were divided into two groups,
one group receiving the electrical stimulation and the other group being the control
group. The group of athletes that were treated received 20hz of electrical stimulation on
their abdominal muscles for 60 sessions during the 12 week period, along with the
treatment the athletes also maintained their normal workout regime. The athletes who
were not receiving treatment maintained their usual training habits. After the 12 week
experimental period measurements were again taken of all the participants the same
way they were taken before the experiment began. The findings indicated that there
was no substantial increase of hypertrophy in the abdominal muscles of any athlete
thus, Wakahara and Shiraogawa concluded that “low-frequency (20 Hz) neuromuscular
electrical stimulationtraining for 12 weeks is ineffective in inducing hypertrophy of the
abdominal muscles in trained athletes, even when they have a thin layer of
subcutaneous fat” (Wakahara 2019).
This experiment supports the notion that low-frequency electrical stimulation is
not strong enough to strengthen the abdominals or minimize subcutaneous fat in
already physically fit individuals. It is important for athletic trainers to know this
information so they can educate athletes in the importance of “old-fashioned” training
and show the evidence to prove there is no quick and easy way to get physically fit. It is
possible that hypertrophy could have increased with a longer treatment period but not
In conclusion, it is within my personal belief that electrical stimulation is beneficial
however, not for the purposes of training already strong muscles. Electrical Stimulation
should be used for pain management, treatment of tight muscles and tissue, reversal of
muscle atrophy, and other studied benefits. If an individual is seeking a healthy body
they should take the physcial steps to achieve one which would include a healthy diet
and excercise.
Wakahara, T., & Shiraogawa, A. (2019). Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation
training on muscle size in collegiate track and field athletes. PLoS ONE, 14(11), 1–13.