Kap what is your opinion on STIM machines in terms of arm recovery for high school/college pitchers?
Thanks for bringing this up. Every time I had even a minor injury related to baseball, I was treated with “stim and ice.” This was both before and during my professional player career, so my evaluation includes high school and my brief encounter with higher education. Before diving into my personal experience, let’s get clear on what stim, or “TENS,” is. From CNN.com:
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, or TENS, is delivered using a small battery-operated generator connected to a set of electrodes. The generator, about the size of a BlackBerry, transmits a weak electric current through the electrodes, which are attached to the skin at the site of chronic pain or at other key points.
Essentially, if I crush a baseball in the wrong direction (like screaming towards my left shin), I’m going to get a large boo-boo. A trainer may stick electrodes around the area then throw some electrical current into me while wrapping my leg with a large, ice packed towel.
You already know how I feel about cryotherapy, and I feel the same about stim. I never felt like either benefitted me. That’s not to say for certain that they didn’t. There is no alternate universe in which I may use myself as a control group. I certainly never saw downside other than the time spend sitting on a training table.
As you know, we don’t randomly gloss over topics around here without offering useful data points to help you make an informed decision. Here’s what we know:
Basic science studies using animal models of inflammation show changes in the peripheral nervous system, as well as in the spinal cord and descending inhibitory pathways, in response to TENS. Translational studies show mechanisms to prevent analgesic tolerance to repeated application of TENS. This review also highlights data from recent randomized, placebo-controlled trials and current systematic reviews. Clinical trials suggest that adequate dosing, particularly intensity, is critical to obtaining pain relief with TENS.
TENS treatments may make the pain better, but like icing, is probably not going to do anything for the underlying issue. It probably won’t hurt, either, so it’s your call as to whether the numbing is worth the time spend.