Ab belts have become popular in toning one’s body and looking good. They are designed to strengthen and define a person’s abdominal area through the principle of electronic muscle stimulation, or EMS. This unconventional method of muscle toning has raised concern as to the safety of ab belts.
Ab belts are considered completely safe for their users. One such product, the Flex Belt, has in fact been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Flex Belt has the specific purpose of strengthening, and in the process shaping, the abnominal muscles. Electronic muscle stimulation is considered far more convenient than the normal workout process. It can also have positive results in a relatively short period of time, perhaps in as little as six weeks. The Flex Belt is a safe way to achieve muscle toning, so long as it is used properly and by those who understand the state of their own bodies.
Electronic Muscle Stimulation
EMS uses electrical currents that are carefully focused so to contract the targeted muscles in a comfortable manner. In an ab belt, these currents are emitted through special pads that come in contact with certain parts of the user’s abdomen. The nerves that are directly affected will in turn send “signals” to surrounding nerves, which result in their contraction. In this way, the entire abdominal area will be affected and ultimately strengthened. As the electrical currents go out in pulses and are not sustained over a significant length of time, the muscles are able to rest in between contractions.
The voltage used in ab belts is so low that the user normally can’t even feel the electrical current. The only known side effect is muscle soreness, which can be reduced by turning down the intensity of the belt until one’s muscle contractions are comfortable. Similar soreness would even be expected in more conventional abdominal exercises, such as doing sit-ups. Electronic stimulation is in fact a natural part of human physiology, and occurs whenever a person’s nerves interact with the rest of his or her body.
The principle of EMS dates back to the 1950s, and was first used to aid in the recovery of injured athletes. Athletes today continue to use it in the rehabilitation of their muscles after suffering an injury in the gym or the court or on the playing field. They also use it to strengthen their muscles and improve their endurance. Physical therapists regularly use EMS technology to help patients build up their muscles.
Despite their versatility, ab belts are not for everyone. They should not be used by pregnant women until at least six weeks after giving birth, and the time frame should be at least three months for women who have had Cesarean sections. Men and women who have a history of diabetes, heart disease, stomach and bowel disorders or have suffered from certain types of cancer should first consult with their doctors before using them. Otherwise, ab belts are a generally painless and safe way to tone up abdominal muscles.