I came across PEMF therapy, or Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy, through my coach who tried it after an injury. She thought her results were excellent. I will be the first to admit, it took some convincing for me to try something that seemed to be pseudoscience. That being said, PEMF has been around for over 70 years, used by NASA, and approved by the FDA since the late 70s. It has been historically used for bone healing, pain, inflammation, and depression.
My chiropractor, Donna King at Apex Family Chiropractic Center, offers PEMF therapy. She offered me a free session, so I thought, why not? There are plenty of other nontraditional therapies I have tried as a runner that were helpful, like needling, acupuncture, and dietary supplements, so I was curious to try something new. My hamstring has been bugging me for months. I ignored it for a while thinking that reducing my mileage and doing strength work would naturally help it heal on its own. It didn’t, and it even worsened. For the last several weeks I have tried to more regularly stretch and get on my roller, I have had 2 massages, 3 chiropractor visits, lowered my weekly mileage, took a week off, kept up with strength training…and nothing was getting rid of this nuisance.
I went to my first session, not totally knowing what to expect. I sat in what looked like a pretty normal looking cushioned chair. The PEMF technician, Janice, started the machine…and WOW. This was not a normal chair! The sensation is similar to a tens machine, but far more intense. There are no wires or pads attached to your skin. I felt the pulsing far deeper into my muscles, joints, and even my bones. It was a truly strange feeling, even quite uncomfortable at first, in the areas I have had problems with during my runs. Over the course of the hour, I was able to build up to a more therapeutic level. Once the session ended, I was already looking forward to the next one! The muscle soreness and tightening that had been plaguing me was gone. My muscles felt a bit strange for another half hour, but not in a bad way. The next day I felt no tightness or discomfort in the usual areas. I am told it may take several sessions to get to the full effect, but so far I am relatively impressed.
Session two the following week felt a lot better. Like a good massage, your muscles relax as you go along. I was able to increase to a stronger level without extra discomfort. During my third session, I tried the PEMF table. I was able to fully lie down, as well as have use of two pads to place on my hips. I am finding the key to this treatment is to move and stretch, change your position slightly as you feel the machine work. After this session, I was a bit sore which is normal.
I have had a fourth session, and have plans for a few more. I think this treatment is helping, although it remains to be seen how much or to what extent. I also noticed the therapy has helped me read my body better, by pointing more to my lower back and glutes as the problem areas, causing the pulling in my hamstring. If you are interested in trying it, Apex Family Chiropractic has 3 sessions for $99 as a trial package.