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Guide to Using a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles Post-Workout

  • 3 min read

Guide to Using a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles Post-Workout

What is a TENS Machine?

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS machines are small devices that provide immediate, temporary pain relief. They are made of a battery-operated TENS unit and sticky adhesive electrode pads. Used to combat labour pains when they were first developed and now commonly recognised as period pain relief devices, TENS devices can be used all over the body for a range of conditions and pain-related illnesses. To learn more about why TENS devices are great, read about the pain relief device by VUSH Wellness.


How Can a TENS Machine Help After Exercise?

If you dread the stairs after leg day, or know you should pull out the foam roller but never actually do, a TENS device could be your newest workout buddy. It’s completely normal for your muscles to feel sore after exercise, no matter how strenuous the workout was. Delayed-Onset Muscle Syndrome (DOMS) is the official term for that pain you feel in your muscles a day or two after exercise.

TENS machines work to soothe the discomfort of sore muscles by blocking pain signals to the brain and releasing endorphins (A.K.A the body’s natural painkillers). This is done by placing the TENS device as close as possible to the painful area. Using a TENS after a workout can speed up the muscle recovery process! Don’t forget to stretch though — TENS machines aren’t a replacement for all other types of post-workout care.


How to Use a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles:

Place the TENS device right on the muscle that you focused on in the workout (just avoid placing it too close to the neck, chest, spine, head, or genitals). Make sure the body part you’re adding the TENS to is clean and dry first, otherwise the adhesive gel pads may not feel as sticky. Always apply the TENS machine while it is turned off, and make sure it’s attached properly before turning it on and starting at the lowest setting. Check our step-by-step guide to using a TENS machine for more info.


When & Where to Use a TENS Machine for Sore Muscles:

Here’s exactly when and where to use a TENS device to relieve DOMS pain:

After a jog or run

Stiff legs? Chuck a TENS machine on them! Place the gel electrodes on the back of your calf or on your quad. Just be cautious with leg hair, it may feel slightly uncomfortable with the sticky electrode pads. If the adhesive pads on your TENS machine are small enough, you can also try putting it on the top of your feet if your jog has left your feet sore. For a sore lower back, put the TENS device on that area for post-run pain relief.

Woman going for a run outside

After core workout

The lower abdominals are one of the most common areas to use a TENS machine on, because TENS placement in this area can soothe a range of discomfort from menstrual cramps, IBS symptoms, pelvic pain, to just plain old sore abs. Place your TENS machine on your upper or lower abdominals whenever they’re sore after a workout. But don’t be fooled, using a TENS machine won’t necessarily help you tone your abs and increase muscle, it will only help those muscles relax and reduce pain.

Woman in gym lying on mat doing core exercise

After doing weights

If your shoulders or lats are sore from weightlifting or strength training, try putting a TENS device on your upper back. Avoid putting the device too close to the neck or directly on top of the spine. Depending on the size of your electrode pads, you may also like to place your TENS machine on your bicep or tricep. Just be cautious that too much movement or placement too close to the joints may make things difficult.

Weights on bar about to be picked up by person with pink shoes & wrist bands

Before the exercise

Some people also suggest using a TENS device to relax the muscles before the actual workout. Even just a few minutes of TENS stimulation in the lead up to exercise can improve circulation and increase blood flow. While you’re at it, have a stretch and get your body ready before settling into the heavy lifting.

2 women sitting on yoga mats chatting before workout


Read More from VUSH Wellness:

Check out the VUSH Wellness Blog for more information on how TENS machines work. We have a guide on where to place your TENS and how to apply a TENS device. TENS machines aren’t limited to soothing sore muscles, they can also relieve period painback pain and endometriosis pain.


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