Whole-body-electro-myo-stimulation (WB-EMS) has been introduced as an alternative to physical training. The aim of the review is to summarize the data about indications and side effects of WB-EMS.
A literature search in PubMed disclosed 11 randomized trials, 3 cohort studies, and 7 case reports. From healthy volunteers, enormous creatine kinase (CK) elevations were reported. There is a lack of data about biological consequences of WB-EMS on other organs. In randomized trials, CK levels were not investigated, but several patients discontinued WB-EMS because of “muscular discomfort.” Contraindications for WB-EMS are not clearly defined. Nine cases of rhabdomyolysis after WB-EMS were found, preferentially after the first application.
Regulatory authorities should increase the safety of WB-EMS. Patients with a history of rhabdomyolysis should not undergo WB-EMS and those experiencing rhabdomyolysis should be neurologically investigated. Since the value of WB-EMS as an alternative to physical exercise is uncertain, we need to proof or disproof its benefit.