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Thread: Ab muscle electrical stimulator; good or bad?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    NB, Canada

    Ab muscle electrical stimulator; good or bad?

    First, I used the search function which did not answer my questions.

    I've had an SCI for 29 years at the T4 level. I've recently lost a fair bit of weight. I've still got a bit of "quad belly", which I hide using a Dale ab binder. I was now wondering if I could get my abs toned with an electrical stimulator belt. But...

    Do they actually work on someone with no feeling in that area?

    If so, are there any stimulator systems that are more effective than others?

    Are there any negative side effects to using such stimulators?

    I know getting "washboard abs" is probably too much to ask for, but it would be nice if those muscles had some tone to them.

  2. #2
    I've wondered about this, too. It would be nice to hear from someone with experience before buying one.

    However, the times when I have worked my abs with light crunches to get more muscle tone, it doesn't help with the appearance of my quad belly but does makes my spasms more intense and throws me more off balance when I have them (I'm T6 complete). So I'm unsure if the "benefits" of a toned stomach truly outweigh the costs of potential loss of control in my case. Still curious about the belts.

    Also, how did you lose the weight? Hopefully it was a healthy, positive process as opposed to illness.


  3. #3
    Provided your abdominal muscles are still innervated (doesn't require that you have feeling), the muscles will contract when electrically stimulated. Repeated contractions can strengthen and grow those muscles and might increase tone.

    You won't be able to "spot reduce" abdominal fat, but increased muscle size and tone will make your abs harder and more defined, provided there isn't too much fat covering them. Unfortunately, as you've discovered, abdominal fat is one of the first places your body stores fat and it holds onto that fat tightly. It's not terribly difficult to go from "fat" to "skinny with a belly", but it takes disciplined nutrition and a lot of physical activity to finish the job and gain good ab definition. That being said, working your abdominal muscles with a stimulator will increase the number of calories you burn in a day, all else being equal, though it may be only a small increase.

    Making your abdominal muscles stronger via electrical stimulation may improve your day-to-day function if you have some residual function left in your abdominals, but it can also do what Jades described. Typically, electrical stimulation decreases the number of spasms you have daily, but it will increase the intensity of the spasm as the muscle gets stronger.
    Co-founder & CTO of MYOLYN - FES Technology for People with Paralysis - Empowering People to Move

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    NB, Canada
    I lost the weight with a high fat, ultra-low carb diet. Keeping my carbs below 20g and eating a lot of fatty meats works the best. I have no feeling or control of muscles below the nipples. When sitting, if I do a lot of up and down pressure relief, I don't get spasms. Lying in bed on my back, I keep my legs pulled up in such a way that my heels are just below my scrotum. I do this to keep the weight off my "butt bones". When I straighten out my legs after lying that way for more than 30 minutes, I have a major chest down body spasm. It would be cool to find a particular model of ab workout device that yields decent results for someone who can't feel their abs.
    Last edited by fasdude; 12-20-2018 at 02:58 PM.

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