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Can EMS Training Increase Bone Density?


Can EMS training really increase your bone density?


There's a growing buzz around EMS training and its potential impact on bone density. As EMS becomes more integral to workout routines, many are wondering about their effectiveness in this area.


But what is bone density? How does it increase? And how does exercise and EMS make a difference?


Let's jump in.

Bone Density

Bone density, or bone mineral density, refers to the amount of bone mineral present in your bones. When we talk about testing bone density, we're essentially measuring the strength and density of bones, which are key indicators of overall bone health.


Composition of Bone Tissue

Bone tissue is a complex mix. It’s made up of minerals deposited around a protein matrix, combining to give your skeleton its strength and flexibility. About 65% of bone tissue is inorganic material, mainly responsible for bone hardness. The most abundant minerals in your bones are calcium and phosphorite, existing in the form of hydroxyapatite, an insoluble salt.


Hydroxyapatite crystals, intertwined with an organic protein mix, form the backbone of your bone structure. Other elements like magnesium, sodium, potassium, and citrate ions are also present. They're conjugated to hydroxyapatite crystals, rather than forming separate crystals. The rest, about 35%, is the organic protein matrix, with type 1 collagen making up 90% of it.


How Bone Density is Measured

Bone density tests, using X-rays, assess how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are present in a segment of bone. Commonly scanned areas include the spine, hip, and sometimes the forearm. The results of these tests are interpreted through two scores:

  1. T-Score: This compares your bone density with what is expected in a healthy young adult of your gender. It's expressed in standard deviations above or below the average.

  2. Z-Score: This score shows how your bone density compares with what's normal for someone of your age, sex, height, and ethnic or racial origin, also in standard deviations.

Understanding these scores and the composition of bone tissue is crucial as we consider the role of EMS training in bone health.


The Dynamics of Bone Formation

When it comes to how our bones are formed and maintained, two types of cells play starring roles: osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Let's break down their functions and how they contribute to bone health.


Osteoblasts: Architects of Bone Formation

Osteoblasts are the builders in the world of bones. They kick-start the formation of new bone by secreting collagen, which forms the bone matrix that later gets mineralized. When osteoblasts are busy building bone matrix, they release an enzyme called alkaline phosphate. This enzyme, which can be measured in the bloodstream, acts as a clinical marker to gauge the rate of bone formation.


These cells are sensitive to certain hormones like vitamin D, estrogen, and parathyroid hormone, making these hormones significant players in bone health through their impact on osteoblastic activity. This is one reason why post-menopausal women, who experience a drop in estrogen levels, are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.


After they finish their job of secreting the bone matrix, osteoblasts have three fates: they either perish, become lining cells, or transform into osteocytes.


Osteocytes: The Long-Living Bone Cells

Osteocytes, which make up about 90 to 95 percent of all bone cells, are osteoblasts that have become embedded in the bone matrix. These cells are notable for their longevity and play a critical role in bone remodeling, especially in response to mechanical stress. They release factors that regulate the activities of both osteoblasts and osteoclasts.


Osteoclasts: The Bone Resorbers

In contrast, osteoclasts are the demolition crew. They break down bone by secreting enzymes and acids. These substances dissolve the bone's organic matrix and mineral salts. Working in concentrated groups, osteoclasts take around three weeks to break down bone before they die off, paving the way for osteoblasts to step in and rebuild.


This ongoing cycle of bone resorption and formation, performed by osteoclasts and osteoblasts respectively, is a finely tuned process that keeps our bones healthy and responsive to changes in our body and environment.


The Link Between Physical Activity and Bone Density

Ever wondered how physical activity can lead to stronger bones? The secret lies in a process called mechanotransduction. This might sound complex, but it's essentially about turning the mechanical force from muscle contractions into signals that encourage bone growth and remodeling.


Mechanotransduction: Turning Muscle Power into Bone Strength

When you exercise, your muscles contract and tug on the bones they're attached to. This action puts stress on the bones, which is a good thing in this context. This stress acts as a signal to the osteoblasts, the bone-forming cells we discussed earlier, telling them it's time to ramp up bone production and mineralization.


The result? Stronger, denser bones.


The type and intensity of these muscle contractions, especially those involving high loads or impact, play a critical role in strengthening bones.


Impact and Load: Key Players in Bone Strengthening

High-impact activities or exercises that involve bearing more weight or load have a more significant effect on bone density compared to lower impact exercises. For instance, jogging or fast-paced aerobics can be more beneficial for bone strength than slower, more leisurely movements.


However, it's important to note that not all bones in the body benefit equally from these exercises. Only the bones that are actually bearing the load during the exercise get this bone-strengthening benefit. For example, running primarily benefits the bones in your lower body.


EMS Training and Its Impact on Bone Density

A key question that arises in discussions about EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) training is its effect on bone density. How does this technology, which triggers strong muscle contractions through electrical impulses, influence our bones?


The Science Behind EMS and Muscle Contractions

EMS stands out because it bypasses the usual voluntary activation pathways of the central nervous system. Instead, it targets the motor neurons in the muscles directly. This means that from the very first repetition, full muscle bodies can be stimulated, leading to extremely intense muscle contractions.


These contractions, often more powerful than those achieved through conventional training, can engage a higher percentage of muscle fibers. This includes fibers that typically remain inactive during regular workouts. The result is not just a boost in muscle strength but also potentially in bone density and strength.


EMS and Bone Density: Research and Real-world Results

Evidence suggests that EMS can indeed improve bone density, paralleling the effects of weight training. Various studies have been conducted to explore this, showing promising benefits. In practical settings, tools like the Styku body scanner are used to analyze body composition and demonstrate increases in bone density among clients who undergo EMS training.


The Importance of High-Quality EMS Equipment

However, it's crucial to note that not all EMS devices are created equal. High-end EMS equipment, which allows for control over the frequency of muscle stimulation, is essential for achieving those strong muscle contractions necessary for muscle growth and, by extension, bone density enhancement.


If the EMS device doesn't have the capability to deliver sufficiently strong contractions, it may fall short in stimulating muscle growth or increasing bone density. Therefore, it's important for users to do their homework and choose EMS devices wisely to ensure effective results.


Wrapping Up

Our ultimate aim is to empower you with a deeper understanding of your body's inner workings. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and by shedding light on the complex processes that occur within us, we hope to equip you with the ability to make more informed, and consequently, better decisions for your health and well-being.


Whether it's unraveling the mysteries of bone density or exploring the cutting-edge technology of EMS training, our goal is to provide clarity and insight. By staying informed and understanding the science behind fitness and health, you can tailor your approach to suit your body’s unique needs, leading to more effective and fulfilling health and fitness journeys.

 

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?


Most of us know that eating well, regular activity, and managing our sleep and stress levels are important for a healthy life. Still, we struggle to apply that information into our already busy lives. That's why the Active Wave coaching programs help you create a strategy to lose fat, get stronger, and improve your health, all in the context of your own life. We know that's the only way to keep those changes for good, no matter what situation you're in. If you'd like to chat about how you can start to change your life and reach your health and fitness goals, book a free, 10 minute call with one of our coaches today!


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