Athletes, patients recovering from injuries and people who went through surgery have one thing in common. They all go through varying levels of bodily spasms. While there are several medications available for pain relief, there is one drug-free product that takes the spotlight: the EMS TENS machine unit.
If you’ve never heard or used one before, then read on! I’ll be providing the pros and cons of some of the best EMS TENS machines in Australia for 2021. Plus, I’ve got the buying guide for things you need to consider before getting one of these devices.
Top 6 EMS TENS Machines in Australia for 2021
First things first: what is an EMS TENS machine? This therapeutic device is a combination of two methods, EMS and TENS, that aim to relieve muscular, joint or nerve pain. However, there is a difference between the two.
Electric muscle stimulation (EMS) sends an electrical impulse to your muscle, causing it to contract. This process is somewhat similar to exercising your muscles to treat swelling and inflammation. It also promotes blood circulation. Patients recovering from musculoskeletal injuries or conditions benefit from EMS.
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS), on the other hand, sends an electrical impulse to your skin and nerve endings. This process causes the release of endorphins or your feel-good, natural painkillers. In a way, the impulses from the TENS device also distracts your mind from recognising pain signals. Patients in pain due to post-operative incision, migraine or arthritis can benefit from TENS.
It may still be tricky to know which method can address your specific condition. So, make sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist first. Once that’s done, you need to determine the right device for your needs.
To make decision-making faster, consider checking out the best EMS TENS machines in Australia. Here are my top picks:
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Simple is probably the best word to describe the Healsage EMS TENS Machine, from assembly to actual use. To set it up, just fit the magnetic controller at the centre of the pad, peel off the backing then stick it to your body. After that, all you need is to do is choose your preferred intensity settings. The comprehensive manual included also has helpful visuals to make the assembly simpler.
I especially like the idea that there are no cables to put together or apps to figure out to make it work. It’s a feature that makes the device easy to use, store and reuse. And I’m quite sure it’s also something that first-time EMS TENS users will appreciate.
If you love bringing your EMS TENS machine unit to work, at the gym or on your travels, this is among the most portable options around. Though it doesn’t come with a storage pouch, the thin and compact device can fit in any suitable bag. With the remote control included, the whole EMS TENS unit only weighs 38g, too. The remote control also requires one CR2032 lithium battery, making it easy to recharge anywhere.
Its operation and performance are noteworthy as well. Thanks to its handy remote control, you can quickly switch between modes and increase intensities when you want to. There are six modes to choose from: shoulder, forearm, upper arm, back, abdomen and waist. This feature makes it simpler to find the right stimulation for each target area.
One mode may be light with longer resting intervals, while another may involve quick successive contractions. Each session is 30 minutes long with an automatic shut-off function. While some may find this a limiting factor, it’s an effective way to protect you from overdoing your treatment.
The selling point of the Healsage EMS TENS Machine would have to be its reasonable price point. It makes the device accessible to both first-timers and those looking for budget-friendly options. More importantly, battery and gel pad replacement will not be a pressing issue. But the next question from discerning users, perhaps, would be “is this low-cost device high quality”?
The answer is a resounding yes. And many factors highlighting this. Its construction, for example, used select materials to avoid skin irritation – a common side effect when using some EMS TENS machines. Removing the pad from your body doesn’t leave any odour or residue either. The bow-shaped unit is also well-designed. With this shape, its weight and size stay compact, while its wider ends ensure better coverage and skin contact. Oh, and it’s noise-free, too!
But Healsage’s best quality factor of all would be the manufacturer itself being 100% Australian owned and operated. Aside from its reliable production standards, replacement TENS accessories are easily accessible. Customer service is another benefit. TENS EMS machines are health investments after all, and being able to contact professional consultants to address your product concerns is a big plus.
Undoubtedly, the Healsage EMS TENS Machine is a simple and quality product wrapped in one very affordable package! And if you’re still uncertain as to how TENS or EMS technology can revive your tired muscles, you can test it out with this product.
2. PowerDot 2.0 Duo Smart Electric Muscle Stimulator
People often rely on therapists or potentially dangerous medications to address pain after workouts or sports activities. While they may be helpful, these solutions can also be time-consuming or costly. With the PowerDot 2.0 Duo included in your fitness routine, you get the same pain therapy at home any time you need to. It’s non-invasive and, in the long run, will help you save money.
What makes the PowerDot 2.0 Duo device a stand out is its rare recovery tandem: TENS and NMES. TENS works to relieve pain and initiate recovery. NMES or neuromuscular electrical stimulation, on the other hand, contracts and strengthens the muscles.
With these technologies together, users can speed up soft tissue injuries from strains, pulls, sprains or post-surgeries. It’s the perfect supplement for muscle strength training to increase your output and hasten workout recuperation. Plus, it’s an FDA-cleared machine, ensuring its safety and efficacy.
This unique device comes with a pair of channels with two electrodes each. Instead of the single-pad form, PowerDot has micro-USB lead cables to connect the pod to the pads. What’s good about this design is that you can easily stick the electrodes to specific body areas.
You can opt for the Uno version of this product (single channel) if you like. But with the Duo type, you can share the device or use both pods at the same time. A zippered case comes with the product, too, to keep things organised and transport-friendly.
Before you get to use it, you need to download its matching PowerDot app. The channel only has one button to turn the device on or activate its Bluetooth connectivity. Choosing the treatment programme and controlling the intensity work through the app system. Non-techie users may see this as an issue. However, PowerDot sees to it that the app is comprehensive yet straightforward.
It’s pretty hard to make an error while using it as the app will be guiding you step by step. Aside from being your controller, the app also has other useful features to enhance your fitness regimen. It records your progress and history, and it even alerts you when you need to get new pads. I especially like the part where it shows how to position the device to your chosen body part for treatment.
When it comes to performance, the PowerDot 2.0 Duo doesn’t fall short either. With its powerful 115mA maximum output current, you’ll be able to feel the stimulation even at low intensity. Some may not find the tingling, slightly prickly sensation comfortable, though, especially at your forearms and biceps.
Also, PowerDot recommends that you stay still or relax while using the device, which may affect multitaskers. In terms of battery life, this device can continuously run for about 6 hours and requires approximately 1 hour of charging time. What’s more, is that the package includes a USB Type-A cable with two micro-USB connectors. This way, you can recharge both pods at the same time with one USB port.
The price will probably be your main hurdle when considering the PowerDot 2.0 Duo. But I think its unique recovery system and smart technology make up for it. Also, I recommend evaluating your specific needs first before buying it, especially your level of physical activities and pain. That way, you’ll make the most of your investment. And for that, I believe athletes, serious fitness enthusiasts, people who love massages and those going through chronic pain will benefit more from its power.
3. Flex Belt Abdominal Muscle Toner
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If you wish to get a toned core with minimal effort, the Flex Belt is among the popular ab belts you can consider. This EMS device comes with three medical-grade pads that stick to your tummy and the sides of your waist. Its construction alone is top-notch, from the feel of its fabric down to the neat stitching. The Velcro closure also makes the belt easy to put on and remove.
Plus, it has a handy belt extender to fit waist sizes from 60cm to 132cm. Once secure, select the programme you want, set the intensity then feel the contracting sensation that’s similar when you do conventional core exercises.
The best part is, it lets you work out your tummy without straining your body or hurting your back. With this belt around your waist, you get to multitask, too! This feature alone makes it ideal to a bigger market, including people with weaker joints, mobility issues or injuries undergoing recovery.
The Flex Belt is also perfect for fit and healthy users or people too busy on their desk jobs. It’s an FDA-cleared product as well, which further stresses its safety and beneficial effects.
Exercise or stimulation variety is where the Flex Belt shines best. Specifically, it has ten pre-set programmes with various contractions, rest periods and duration. Then you get to pair each programme with up to 150 levels of intensity!
This way, you can fine-tune your workout any way you want with a press of a few buttons. More importantly, these add variety to your routine and encourage muscle confusion. By exposing your core to different exercises, you get optimum results and avoid workout plateau.
The user-friendly controller, which slips inside the belt pouch, is super easy to figure out, too. Its display screen is small, though, and a backlight would have made it more readable. But with a compact controller and a lightweight belt combined, you can go to work, do chores or travel with this device.
With so many great features packed in one ad belt, we can see the hefty price tag coming. The need to replace its gel pads after a few months is also something you need to take into account, budget-wise. But, one good thing about the Flex Belt is that it has a rechargeable battery.
It has no USB charging option, though. But with this feature, you can forget about battery changes and cost. Just remember to charge it as its battery life drains rather quickly with frequent use and higher intensity.
Also, remember that this belt is only useful for your abdominal area. Other users may find multipurpose EMS TENS devices more cost-efficient. Still, it’s an ideal device for people who needs more toning on their core muscles than any other body part. And with most of us too preoccupied with our busy lifestyles, fitness often takes a backseat. But with innovative machines like the Flex Belt, putting the two together every day becomes so much more doable.
4. Omron HV-F021 Electronic Nerve Stimulator
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Aside from quality performance, I prefer user-friendly devices or gadgets. That way, I’ll be able to use them frequently and make the most of my purchase. And if you’re like me, then consider giving the Omron HV-F021 a good look.
This TENS machine is your quick solution for blocking pain signals, encouraging natural painkiller release and improving circulation. And you can do all that with its easy-to-use remote control. With just four buttons to study, you’ll be using this machine within minutes after taking it out of the box. Its screen is commendable, too. It doesn’t have a backlight, though, but the use of graphics plus large numerical display enhances ease of use.
Using the device is just as simple. All you need is to select the body area (arm, back, leg, foot, joint or shoulder). Then choose your preferred massage type (tap, rub or knead). Finally, set the intensity level from 1 to 15. Similar to PowerDot, Omron is a cable-type device, making it easy to position the pads to specific body parts.
A placement guide comes with the product, too, so you’ll know how to stick each electrode properly. All programmes last for 15 minutes, and Omron recommends doing two daily sessions only. The feature limits programme variety, but I think it also protects you from overdoing your treatment. Omron even included a 15-minute automatic shut-off feature to the device to ensure your safety.
If you love having your TENS device on-the-go, then the Omron HV-F021 is for you. With batteries inserted, the entire unit only weighs 100g. The handy drawstring pouch included can store both controller and pad holder, making them easy to slip in your bag. It even comes with a belt clip, too.
This device requires two AAA batteries to work, which is good as these are readily available. Batteries are not that expensive, and it takes about four months before you need to replace them. It would have been great if it has a USB charging option, though. Also, the battery cover needs some tinkering with a coin or tool to open. It’s quite tedious, but not a big deal.
As it is a single-channel device, it is not for sharing, and Omron doesn’t recommend it either. But I like that compared with other TENS machine units, this one has long-lasting pads. With proper cleaning and care, it can last up to 150 uses before you need to buy new ones. However, Omron pads are specially shaped, and you might have a hard time looking for third-party suppliers. Still, it’s a great money-saving feature, considering that the unit is relatively affordable.
5. Ben Belle Abs Stimulator
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The abs and arms are probably the most common problem areas when it comes to toning goals. While we know that good eating habits and exercise are keys to a fit physique, other supplementary solutions are welcome. Enter the Ben Belle Abs Stimulator!
This device makes use of EMS to contract your biceps and abdominal muscles. In turn, this promotes muscle strengthening and blood circulation for better workout performance. Although its product descriptions say that it can help you lose weight faster, remember that no EMS device to date is capable of doing so.
Unlike other ab belts, the Ben Belle Abs Stimulator is a complete package. Aside from the body belt that targets your abdominal area, it also comes with two more channels that work best for your arm and limb muscles. Each has its controller with lighted digital display to select from its six modes and nine intensity levels. There is not much stimulation variety with this device. But compared with similar ad belts, this one can target body areas other than your tummy.
In terms of design, Ben Belle Abs Stimulator has its pros and cons. The construction material, for instance, is an enhanced polyurethane. This material makes the device soft and comfortable on your body. It makes the machine lightweight, too.
The body belt also has extended flaps on either side so you can wrap it around your waist. This way, the fit is more secure, and you get to stimulate your waist area, too. The belt and arm pads may not suit smaller body frames, though. Also, the device covers multiple areas of your body, and that means lots of gel pads to replace. So, make sure to consider that as well.
Despite some design flaws, the Ben Belle Abs Stimulator is very affordable. If you’re interested in giving ad belts a try, then this is a good starter. Its rechargeable battery helps cut future costs, too, and make the device very portable. You might want to find a storage bag or pouch for this as it doesn’t include one. But all in all, it’s a well-rounded EMS device with excellent value.
6. SIXPAD Body Fit 2 EMS Trainer
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The SIXPAD Body Fit 2 EMS Trainer is the perfect device for all types of athletes who want to enhance their arm, waist and limb muscles. One thing impressive about this machine is its flexible silicone design. With this material, the wing-shaped pad contours well to your body for optimum contraction. Its soft yet durable construction also makes the 11cm x 24cm device super lightweight. At 49g including its batteries, you can train with your SIXPAD anywhere! It’s so slim that you can use it underneath your clothing.
Some users may prefer muscle stimulator machines with cables so they can position the electrodes to specific body areas. However, the single pad form of the SIXPAD Body Fit makes it a no-fuss, user-friendly alternative. After unboxing, all you need to do is apply the two gel pads, insert the battery, then stick the device to your body. The controls are at the centre of the machine, too. It has no remote control, though, so might need to bend to adjust the intensity levels.
Another thing that I like about SIXPAD is how they use science to support their product. Rather than make instant muscle build-up or weight-loss claims, SIXPAD provides research findings. Specifically, sports medicine expert Dr Toshio Moritani provided an extensive presentation on how SIXPAD’s 20Hz frequency can train muscles more effectively. You can learn more about this here.
When it comes to performance, SIXPAD Body Fit 2 is a surprise, especially on your biceps. You can strongly feel the impulse, even at a low-intensity level, travelling down your arm and hand. For some users, the tingly sensation can be quite uncomfortable.
Also, you might not be able to multitask with this device on your arm. It is not painful, but it can be distracting. So, make sure to follow the instructions, start low and don’t use it more than twice a day in the same area. Using it on your legs is more bearable, though. In a way, this power gives you more room to progress.
The SIXPAD Body Fit 2 is overall fantastic. It’s compact, easy to use and versatile. It even has a Bluetooth function to connect to the SIXPAD app. But a crucial issue with this device is probably its price, especially when compared with similar units.
Although it has a rechargeable feature, the battery will need replacement after some time. Lithium batteries are inexpensive and readily available, buy buying some after a month or so still adds to cost. The same thing goes for the gel pads. And SIXPAD’s in-house gel pads are not cheap. However, you can go for the multi-pack option or try their gel pad subscription for a price cut.
What I recommend though is to take care of your gel pads to prolong their life. Use the reusable backing and resealable pouch after use. Also, attach the Velcro strap included when their stickiness starts to deteriorate.
You may have to spend a little more than needed with the SIXPAD Body Fit 2. However, I think its science-based performance makes it a worthy investment. It may not give you that six-pack, but it’s one of the best training aids around alongside good eating habits and exercise.
Why Do You Need an EMS TENS Machine?
Doctors and therapists have long used muscle stimulation for better health. With EMS TENS machines now readily available, we can enjoy its many benefits even at home. Here are some of them.
1. Rehabilitate muscles
EMS TENS machines make it easier to revive muscle mass and degraded joints for people going through medical conditions like muscle atrophy and osteoarthritis. People unable to do physical therapy, such as patients injured due to trauma or surgery, also get stronger muscles through muscle stimulation.
2. Prevent workout pain
Healthy individuals also benefit from muscle stimulator machines, especially athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Electric stimulation post-workout, for example, helps tired muscles recover faster and avoid pain. It’s an excellent pre-workout tool as well for warming up the muscles. After a busy day in the office, people can also relieve neck and back pains through EMS TENS devices.
3. Reduce unwarranted fear
Some people fear moving around or doing physical activities the moment they feel muscle pain. This fear or worry only makes recovery time longer. EMS TENS machines can then be useful in blocking pain signals and reducing inflammation. It helps you get back to work faster than usual, too.
4. Improve the quality of life
Electric stimulation is as comforting and relaxing as a regular massage. It lessens feelings of tiredness and fatigue. And with a relaxed mind and body, our sleep quality and productivity eventually become better.
5. Save time and money
You may need to spend to have an EMS TENS machine, but it will help you save valuable resources in the long run. For example, you won’t have to take a leave at work only to queue and see a therapist. After visiting the doctor, you won’t have to buy and rely on pain meds either. More importantly, you stay clear of medication side effects.
Buying Guide for EMS TENS Machine
The best EMS TENS machines in Australia have unique features to cater to our individual needs. Some can target specific problem areas, while others are more versatile. There are also smart devices and budget-friendly ones with limitations. Here are some essential factors to think about when weighing your options.
1. Electric stimulation intensity
This one is the most important of all as this determines how efficient an EMS TENS machine can be. There are two things that you should find out under this feature. One is the intensity range, and the other is the maximum output strength. Generally, EMS TENS devices with a wide range of intensities are better. With several intensity options to choose from, it’s easier for users or patients to select the right stimulation level they need.
When it comes to output strength, look for the milliampere (mA) level of the machine. This unit of measure represents the electric current strength a device can deliver. It’s a more accurate point of comparison when assessing machines with varying levels of intensity. Generally, you would want to look for devices near 100mA.
In most cases, machines with low output strength cannot address other forms of pain. They are also typically more affordable. But then again, the intensity level and output strength you need depend on your physician’s advice.
2. Treatment settings
Treatment setting refers to the modes or pre-set programmes of your EMS TENS machine. Usually, high-quality devices provide more options than low-end ones. If you’re after stimulation variety and ease of use, then you should pay more attention to this feature. Settings vary from one device to another, though. Some have modes to target different parts of your body, while others are more into different types of massages. So, make sure to read about that, watch demo videos or test the product out if you can.
One relevant add-on for this feature is a timer to automatically shut-off the device. It may not be as essential as other product attributes, but a lot of people can benefit from it. For instance, busy users can stick the device on, set it to a timed programme then go about their day. Patients who need to use the unit regularly can easily track their treatment progress with the help of a timer, too. And, for all types of users, a timer reminds you to avoid overusing the device, protect your skin and give your body a break.
3. Channel and pad quality
EMS TENS machines typically come in single and dual-channel designs. The stimulation comes from the channel or pod of your device. It uses lead wires to transfer impulses to your muscle or nerve endings. These lead wires are within the pads that we stick to our body. A single-channel device usually has two lead wires or electrodes. A dual-channel design, on the other hand, has four. The electrode count usually doubles as the channel number increases.
So, which one is best? Well, it depends on the body area you want to address. A single-channel device is best for small body parts like your wrists, elbows or ankles. It also lets you concentrate the stimulation to specific areas. But if you want to cover more ground, then choose a dual-channel device. With four pads, it’s easier to use the machine for your shoulder, knee or back. Also, the channel has independent controls. So, you can do intense stimulation for your back then keep it low for your knee, all at the same time. You can share one pair to a friend, too.
A single-channel has limited benefits when compared to its dual counterpart. However, it is also less expensive. This type may suit your budget more if you don’t plan to use the device on large body parts. Another thing that you should consider, in terms of cost, is pad quality. A low-cost unit may require pad replacement after only five applications. To make the most of your investment, look for the right channel type with pads that last for months of regular use.
4. Power source
This feature is essential when you’re considering how cost-efficient and portable a device can be. Low-cost EMS TENS machines usually require 9-volt or AAA batteries. This type is convenient as batteries are readily available. However, if you’re a regular EMS TENS user, then this could quickly add up to your expenses. Rechargeable options are a bit pricier, but these can help you save money in the long run. Their lithium batteries can last for hours before you need to recharge. Depending on the model, you can plug it in your outlet or use your USB charger.
Of course, the choice depends on the frequency of use and your lifestyle. Occasional users should go for less expensive, battery-powered devices. People who love bringing their devices anywhere, on the other hand, will benefit more from rechargeable options.
5. Dimensions and weight
Aside from power source, size and weight are also indicators of a device’s portability. EMS TENS machines are usually compact and lightweight. However, bulky belt-type stimulators or those with built-in batteries are more difficult to transport. Construction material can also contribute to product weight. Another thing to look for is the availability of a storage bag. This accessory will keep wires and pads protected when they’re not in use or while you’re travelling.
6. Price and brand
Stimulation intensity, variety of settings and power source are among the significant price indicators of EMS TENS devices. However, the machine brand also affects the cost. Like any other therapeutic device, bigger EMS TENS brands tend to be more expensive. But, if there’s one benefit that you can gain when buying from a reliable company, that would be customer service.
An EMS TENS machine is a health investment. It is then crucial that you can quickly contact a professional whenever you need advice about the product. Your device also needs regular maintenance. So, you would want an established brand that can provide you with the EMS TENS accessories you need. Some machines may be very affordable. But you may not get your money’s worth from fly-by-night producers.
7. Product safety
Lastly, make sure to find the time to verify your machine’s product class for safety. Class I types, for instance, are those with low to moderate risks. If this detail is not available, look for health certifications or seal of approval. Look for the proper use and warnings for every EMS TENS model as well. In most cases, you can find this information on the product website or online instruction manuals.
Over-the-counter machines may be safe. But there had been reports about these products causing pain and shock or interfering with some devices like pacemakers. If you prefer OTC options, make sure to check it first with your doctor or health care provider.
FAQ on EMS TENS Machine
1. Does EMS burn fat?
You may have encountered manufacturers claiming fat or weight loss benefits by using their EMS machines. However, to date, no research supports this claim. Athletes or gym-goers often use EMS machines during exercise, though. Perhaps, this habit is the reason why people often associate EMS to a slim waistline.
But, according to one study, athletes do these to speed up muscle recovery and encourage blood flow after their workout. EMS can complement your dietary and exercise regimen, but it may not provide significant trimming effects when used on its own. Bottom line: it is not a weight-loss magic tool. So, for now, stick to reduced caloric intake and increased activity levels to stay fit and healthy.
2. Can EMS be harmful?
EMS devices can be harmful if used with high-intensity exercises. This combination increases the risk of rhabdomyolysis. It’s a condition where pieces of damaged muscles reach the bloodstream and cause kidney failure.
It’s a rare condition, though, and highly preventable. So, to be safe, conduct EMS sessions with trained professionals whenever possible. Drink plenty of water afterwards. Always use your EMS devices in moderation, and avoid using it while doing heavy workouts or training. Finally, follow the instruction manual. Pregnant women and people with defibrillators or pacemakers should steer clear from EMS devices as well.
3. Does TENS cause side effects?
Similar to EMS, TENS side effects often happen as a result of improper use. Some users may inadvertently set the intensity too high, or the pads were incorrectly attached, resulting in discomfort. Other people may also be allergic to the sticky pads. Leaving the electrode stuck to your skin for a long time can lead to redness or skin irritation. If this happens, you can switch to machines with hypoallergenic pads instead.
Experts recommend using TENS for 30 minutes while being active. Still, consult your doctor to determine how often your sessions should be. Follow the instructions for proper use, too. Also, keep in mind that a TENS device is not a cure for persistent muscle pain. Overusing it might only lead to serious injury.
4. Where should you not use your TENS unit?
People with any electronic or metal implants like pacemakers, spinal cord stimulators and in-dwelling pumps should not use TENS devices. However, they are safe for people with certain health conditions. It’s still best to check with your physician first, especially if you are pregnant or have cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and cognitive impairment. People allergic to adhesives or nickel should also use a hypoallergenic alternative.
Never use a TENS device while in the shower or near water. Also, avoid using it with cold packs or heating pads. It is ideal to start your TENS session when you’re awake, too. Lastly, do not stick it close to an open wound or damaged skin as it can prolong recovery time.
5. How can I make my TENS pads sticky again?
Over time, the pads of your EMS or TENS machines will lose their stickiness, and you’ll need to replace them. However, there are also ways how you can reduce costs by making their sticky quality last longer. Make sure to remove excess oil and wash your skin with soap and water before attaching the pads. After use, wipe the electrodes with a cloth or towel. Don’t use a paper towel, though, as this can leave a residue. Then put the pads back to its storage case to protect them from drying out.
When your pads start to lose its stickiness, wiping it with a few drops of water can help restore their stickiness. You can brush them in one direction using a clean toothbrush, too. Electrode gel or electrolyte spray can also preserve pad moisture and enhance electric stimulation properties.