Electrostimulation is not something new. It seems like NASA technology when we arrive at a FAST center , but nothing could be further from the truth, since thousands of years ago they already realized the properties of electricity to excite muscle contraction.

You will wonder how it is possible that thousands of years ago they already related electricity and stimulation, if it was not until the 18th century that the scientific method began to be used to find out the properties of electricity from the hand of Volta, Galvani or Benjamin Franklin, among others. Well, very simple, is that this electricity goes back many thousands of years, and curiously many the investigations carried out and its use are located in the therapeutic field.

As we will see in this article, many historical figures that resonate in our heads have already used electrotherapy.

Thales of Miletus , back in 600 BC, was considered a great philosopher, in fact he was one of the seven wise men of Greece. But the sages of that time played several suits, so Thales was not only great for transcending beyond mythology, or for mathematics, but he also made great contributions in other fields, since he tried to explain everything that happened in nature in a rational way.

While Thales of Miletus was with his disciples, he observed that by rubbing amber with his clothing, he managed to attract other bodies, such as straw, feathers, etc. At that moment he discovered the power of the friction of one material with another … It was the discovery of electrostatics, of electricity. But not only that, but also some say that he used the electrical discharge produced by the torpedo fish to treat some arthralgias.

There are much older Egyptian references, from 3,000 BC, in the Horapollo hieroglyphs about how those men already knew the electrical capacities of the catfish, and that made them consider it a protector of other fish. In 400 BC in a dialogue from Plato to Socrates, reference is made, as a metaphor, to the torpedo fish, indicating its paralyzing capacities.

Although in many readings they indicate that Thales of Miletus had already applied the torpedo fish to treat, as we said before, actually the reference with the most weight belongs to “EscriboniusLargus, a physicist of the 1st century BC who wrote a form of prescriptions where it was recommended, among others, the use of a torpedo for the treatment of headache and gout, placing a live black torpedo on the painful organ ”(Miguelez, Liaño and López-Plaza, 2001).

Later, in the 3rd century AD, Galen was also introduced to electrotherapy, comparing the effects produced by these electric fish and what we now call cryotherapy.

Meanwhile, in later centuries, fish with electrical properties continued to be used to treat gout, facial paralysis, and many other conditions.

In the midst of a renaissance, Gilbert was the one who laid the foundations and terminology of electricity, and a few years later Otto von Guericke invented the first electrical machine. The great scientific leap came in the middle of the 18th century with the invention of Von Kleist and Van Musschenbrock: the Leyden bottle. This bottle made it possible to store and transport electricity. It was then that great doubts arose when comparing the properties of this invention with those of electric fish.

Already then the electrical energy produced by machines began to replace that of fish as a therapeutic method: Edward Brancroft used the sparks generated from the Leyden bottle for therapeutic purposes, with patients suffering from gout, paralysis, headaches and fever.

Following these discoveries Galvani (late 18th century) was tempted to link anatomy with electricity. It was his experiment on frogs that really, from my point of view, would revolutionize what we know today as neuromuscular electrostimulation. “He described how the frog legs contracted when an arc formed by two different metals, placed in series, simultaneously touched the nerves of the haunches and the spinal cord” (Miguelez, Liaño and López-Plaza, 2001). He was convinced that living brain cells could generate electricity, store it, and release it in the form of muscle contractions.

Volta questioned Galvani’s theory, stating that frog legs contracted due to contact with the other metals immersed in saline. And here the debate arose… They both contributed very interesting ideas, and both had their part of reason. Thanks to this Volta insisted on imitating the bioelectric organs of torpedo fish in an artificial way and… voila! The pile was born! And it is that electrostimulation has contributed much more than we can imagine …

Among these great contributions is the following: today we know that acetylcholine is a very important neurotransmitter in muscle contraction, but this desire to investigate with electricity in a body was what led to Du Bois-Reymond, in the 19th century, to show that nerves and muscles were electrogenic and that there would have to be a substance with the ability to transmit nerve impulses. Later it was found that acetylcholine concentrations were very high in torpedo fish.

Also in the 19th century, Faraday discovered electrical induction and incorporated it into therapy. Despite all the advances that were taking place, electrotherapy fell into disuse at the end of the 19th century after criticism led by Moebius.

It was not until the 80s of the 20th century that electrotherapy resumed its boom, but 20 years earlier Professor Kotz realized how Russian currents (or Kotz currents) were able to help sports performance and even promote trophism muscular. At that time, electrostimulation for training was used with uncomfortable currents. Little by little it was improved, until in 1996 Compex released the first portable electrostimulator designed for the athlete.

In the last two decades science has been providing knowledge on the application of neuromuscular electrostimulation for physical exercise, and at the same time the devices have been improving in comfort and technology.

The EMS Integral Activa is of recent creation, not a decade ago that manufacturers of electrostimulatory suits began to emerge in Europe. Now, after the emergence of this material, it remains to add more evidence to what happens when many body areas are electrostimulated at the same time.

As we can see, electrostimulation has been applied for thousands of years … The only novelties are emerging in the format, new technological advances and uses. We continue to make History …

As you know, if you want to try this technology, you can visit our closest center. We have electrostimulation centers in Leganés, Marbella, Benidorm, Villalba , and many more places

  • Miguelez, Liaño and López-Plaza. About electric fish and some scientific advances. Historical notes. Spanish Journal of Physics. 15 (4), 2001.
  • Martín Cordero. Therapeutic physical agents. Editorial Medical Sciences. 2008.
  • Pombo-Fernández et al. Electrostimulation: training and periodization. Editorial Paidotribo. 2004.

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