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Have you ever wished you could cycle uphill faster or maintain 100% max performance for longer when working out?

According to the latest medical research, PainPod advanced technology (TENS/EMS) could potentially improve exercise performance in healthy individuals. An increased level of physical activity doesn’t only improve physical health, it can also have a significant impact on other factors including mental health and social cohesion

The link between exercise, wellbeing and depression in Australia

In Australia, around 1.35 million adults participate regularly in a team sport.  Government statistics have shown that these people, in addition to experiencing the physical benefits of sports, are much less likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or stress. In fact between 2013 and 2014, the incidence of depression in Australia for under 25 year olds was 17%, but dropped to only 8% for those involved in a regular team sport.  Similarly, anxiety rates dropped from 20% to 10%. Optimising and enhancing exercise performance is likely to further encourage people to participate in sport and other physical activities. The latest research suggests that PainPod technology may assist with this.

How is exercise performance measured?

Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) or Stress Teststress test PainPod

An Exercise Tolerance Test (or Stress Test) is a way of measuring the heart’s response to increased exercise or stress.  While using a treadmill or exercise bike, an electrocardiogram (ECG) is recorded and heart rate and blood pressure are also monitored.   During an ECG electrodes are placed on the chest and the electrical pulses generated by the heart as it contracts are recorded on a graph. The exercise tolerance test can show whether there is sufficient blood flow to the heart when there is increased demand during increased exertion.

Cycle Ergometer Teststress test for TENS machine

During the research study a cycle ergometer was used in the exercise tolerance test.  The participants had to maintain a pedalling rate of 60–70 rpm until they reached their limit of tolerance.  TENS or placebo TENS was applied for 30 minutes prior to the test as well as during the exercise test.

Each participant visited the testing laboratory on three occasions, sometimes receiving the active treatment and sometimes receiving the placebo treatment.  In this way, no control group was necessary, as each person acted as their own control (this is called a case-crossover study design).

Let’s get technical: research study breakdown

The researchers measured oxygen uptake and exercise efficiency in 11 healthy males with an average age of 21 years.  

They found that these measures were improved when subjects received TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) before and during the exercise test, compared to when they received ‘placebo’ TENS. (1) Placebo TENS refers to TENS applied but switched off and the person being studied believes they are receiving active TENS.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. Dr Fernanda Tomasi reported:

“Our data shows that the application of TENS can potentially increase exercise tolerance and oxygen supply in healthy subjects.”

Oxygen uptake during the exercise test was also significantly higher and carbon dioxide levels were significantly lower when the participants received TENS compared to when they received the placebo (TENS with no current applied; P < 0.05).

TENS also increased mechanical efficiency and exercise tolerance compared to placebo (P < 0.05).

How does TENS improve exercise performance?

Dr Tomasi explained that TENS works by decreasing the levels of epinephrine (adrenalin) and noradrenalin.  

“These factors collectively contribute to the reduction of heart rate, increasing oxygen pulse during exercise without impairing exercise tolerance,” 

explained Dr Tomasi. In other words, TENS allows you to work even harder than normal during exercise, by reducing your heart rate and increasing your oxygen pulse.

Other studies have found that TENS also produces significant dilation of the peripheral blood vessels which in turn improves the oxygen delivery to muscles. (2) This adds further to evidence of the possible benefits of PainPod TENS technology for exercise and elite sports performance enhancement.

PainPod recommendations to use TENS for exercise 

The PainPod 3 employs the latest in TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) technology.  PainPod’s TENS and EMS (NMES) frequencies both have a number of different benefits for people.

The PainPod TENS technology for physical performancePainPod advanced medical technology is able to be adapted for use in a vast variety of athletic scenarios and has been successfully used in several professional sports including basketball, football, hockey, golfing and the martial arts to relieve pain and aid circulation of oxygen through the body. The PainPod 3 has been developed to relieve pain, aid recovery and maximise results at all stages of the regular training routine including warm-up, during training, recovery and injury rehabilitation.

Get the most out of your exercise routine and use your PainPod before, during and after your workout to assist with enhancing your performance and aiding your recovery.

Here are a few suggestions that could help you improve exercise performance:

Integrating a PainPod into your exercise routine, in addition to the measures suggested above, may assist in optimising your exercise performance and recovery. The PainPod is safe for use with medications.

Contraindications for TENS/EMS medical devices

Do not use your PainPod:

If you are prone to seizures, have cancer or are recovering from cancer, consult with your doctor before use. Remember, the PainPod is an approved medical device and as such, should be used only as directed by the manual and user guide or by your healthcare professional.


  1. Tomasi et al. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation improves exercise tolerance in healthy subjects. Int J Sports Med (2014) 35: 1–5.
  2. Vieira et al. Effect of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on muscle metaboreflex in healthy young and older subjects. Eur J Appl Physiol (2012) 112:1327–1334.

PainPod Australia encourages its customers to always read the label and to use its products as directed, if symptoms persist see your doctors and/or healthcare professional. Listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods as ARTG Identifier: 176131 Certificate Number: DV-2010-MC-13011-3

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