The main hypothesis of this trial was that WB-EMS training significantly increases bone mineral density in the lumbar spine compared to a control group. Our secondary hypothesis was that WB-EMS training significantly affects bone mineral density in the proximal femur compared to the control group.
76 osteopenic women living in the community 70 years or older were randomized to a WB-EMS group (n = 38) or a control group (n = 38). The WB-EMS group conducted 3 sessions every 14 days for a year, while the control group performed gymnastics with identical exercises without EMS.
The WB-EMS group conducted 18-19 minute sessions with a bipolar current, frequency of 85 Hz, pulse width of 350 μs 3 times in 2 weeks (every Monday or Tuesday and every second Thursday or Friday) for 54 weeks.
The control group performed two 10-week blocks of easy gymnastics by performing 1 session of 60 minutes a week with 10 weeks of rest between the blocks. After 5 minutes of variations in the walk, the subjects performed the same low intensity / low amplitude dynamic exercises, as during the EMS sessions.
There was a gain in lean body mass and an increase in grip strength in the WB-EMS group compared to the control group. As for the increase in bone mineral density there were no significant differences between the two groups.
No significant effect was found in the use of WB-EMS in bone mineral density in the lumbar spine and no effect in the hip. However, given the high impact of this technology on muscle mass and strength, WB-EMS may be an option for musculoskeletal prevention and rehabilitation, at least for elderly subjects who cannot or do not want to exercise in a manner conventional.
Von Stengel S., Bebenek M., Engelke K., y Kemmler W. (2015). Whole-Body Electromyostimulation to Fight Osteopenia in Elderly Females: The Randomized Controlled Training and Electrostimulation Trial (TEST-III). J Osteoporos 2015: 643520.