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Effects of electromyostimulation on physiological determinants of endurance-performance in healthy subjects: a systematic review.

INTRODUCTION: Electromyostimulation is an additional training stimulus to voluntary muscle activation, which was previously used for rehabilitation purposes only. However, its use has increasingly been shown to be able to optimize sports performance. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effects of EMS training on physiological determinants of endurance performance in healthy subjects.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effects of EMS training on endurance-related performance parameters in healthy subjects. A systematic search of three databases (PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Livivo), based on PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis) guidelines was performed. Studies that included healthy subjects, electromyostimulation intervention with control group, physiological and endurance performance outcomes were assessed. The quality of studies was evaluated with the PEDro scale.

EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Full-text articles of 26 studies were reviewed and 11 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The results revealed improvements in maximal oxygen uptake, oxygen uptake at ventilatory thresholds, running economy, and maximal lactate blood concentrations following EMS intervention; while maximum heart rate was not affected. Performance outcomes such as time-trial performance, time to exhaustion, and maximal work capacity also tended to be improved.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this review conclude that electromyostimulation enhances oxygen uptake, running economy, lactate concentrations, and time-trial performance. Therefore, endurance could be improved in healthy individuals. Furthermore, its time efficiency advantages increase the potential and interest for further use and research. Nevertheless, methodological differences should be considered and more consensus in training programs is needed, to prove that electromyostimulation is beneficial regarding endurance parameters in healthy subjects.

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