Enjoy Complete Mobility With Portable TENS Units
Portable TENS units provide electrotherapy pain management, and sometimes even muscle stimulation and toning (because many of these smaller devices combine TENS with EMS). Therefore, they are great not only for sports people, but also for those suffering from acute and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, and muscle stiffness.
Probably the most important perk of portability is that it provides instant pain relief, whenever and wherever needed, since you can fit the device under your clothes and you are good to go. Consider whether your device comes with a carrying case that you can use to safely store the unit and take it along to work, around the house, or wherever you may need it. A truly portable unit is not only compact, but also lightweight; in fact, many are so small that they resemble MP3 players. Portable units are much more convenient than wired devices, and are easy to take anywhere with you, but check that the kit includes detailed instructions for the device to be truly helpful.
With a portable TENS unit, you can enjoy a relaxing massage and being pain-free anytime anywhere. Besides the auto mode, some portable units even come with various massage modes, such as acupuncture, Guasha, tapping, etc, so that relaxation is total. The major downside is that portable TENS units are generally mid ground between the cheaper, simpler models and the more expensive devices. While many portable units are a great alternative to bulkier devices, because they are more affordable, lightweight and cordless, they may not work as well for people who need more features from their machine.
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Handheld units are more suitable for the relief of minor muscle aches since the pads can only cover smaller areas of skin. The technology uses bioelectricity to provide a relaxing massage, similar to that administered by a physiotherapist. The device works by sending gentle electrical pulses to the muscles in the targeted areas (the areas where you place the electrode pads). As a result, the muscles contract and relax rhythmically, and this produces the deep massage sensation, as well the pain relief your aching muscles were expecting.
Most of the times, these are digital units that typically feature a large and easy to read LCD screen; they are also battery operated, and depending on the model, you will either need to replace or recharge the batteries. Rechargeable lithium batteries, for instance, can provide up to 10 hours of uninterrupted use, which renders them perfect for people in need of constant pain relief. For complete portability and to get the most out of your TENS device, it may be better to get a rechargeable unit that runs continuously for 60 to 90 minutes per session, several times a day. Moreover, make sure you can charge the batteries when you don’t use the unit, such as overnight when you go to bed.
With most devices, battery life depends upon the size of the pads, which means that larger electrodes will use up more of the battery charge. If you decide to purchase a unit that runs on regular AAA batteries, make sure to always have close at hand enough extra ones so that you can use your device without interruption; note that this option may cost more in the long run, and is not exactly eco-friendly either.
Going completely wireless
A wireless TENS unit is suitable for most body shapes, it is controlled remotely, and designed to provide utmost flexibility. In fact, the flexible material it is made of follows closely the contours of the back to fit perfectly on anyone, and it is so thin that you can wear it underneath your clothes without anyone ever suspecting it.
A butterfly shaped unit can cover larger areas, which makes it perfect for people who need to treat more at once. On the other hand, some users report this particular shape to be rather uncomfortable when worn for longer periods of time, so weigh carefully the benefits of treating larger areas simultaneously against the hazards of irritated skin.
Also take into account that some wireless units offer more value for money as they have a higher intensity output than the rest on the portable TENS market. And unlike a handheld unit that is still portable but uses some wiring, a wireless device is totally free of belts and back wraps, thus providing you with the ultimate mobility.
Reusing and replacing pads
The electrode numbers on a device range from 2 to 8, with most units featuring 4 pads (called dual channel units). Make sure the two outputs are isolated, so that each of the two channels keeps 100% of its strength. If you need to treat either a larger area or several parts of your body at once, then pick a unit with more outputs that enable you to use more pads at the same time; for example, you can connect 8 pads on units with 4 outputs. Larger pads can be a solution if you cannot afford a unit with more channels; typically, the larger the pads, the larger the treatment area they can cover.
Portable units come with several gel pads made of cloth or foam; most pre-gelled pads can be used multiple times. To increase the time they remain sticky, make sure the pads don’t get dirty, and trim any hair you may have on the area that needs treatment; use a scissor, rather than shave, as that will only cause irritation, and electrodes should never be used on irritated or broken skin.
The pads can be replaced easily once they don’t stick firmly to your skin. However, you can replace pads sooner; for example, when you need smaller electrodes to apply to your toes, you will obviously need smaller pads than the ones you place on your back. Even if your unit does not come with all electrode sizes, you can buy pads separately, as most are universally compatible, no matter the brand of TENS unit you own. Remember that quality pads maximize the efficiency of any unit.