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05.07.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 9/2018

European Journal of Applied Physiology 9/2018

Immediate effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) administered during resistance exercise on pain intensity and physical performance of healthy subjects: a randomized clinical trial

European Journal of Applied Physiology > Ausgabe 9/2018
Mayara A. Menezes, Thaís A. B. Pereira, Leonardo M. Tavares, Belissa T. Q. Leite, Antônio G. R. Neto, Leury M. S. Chaves, Lucas V. Lima, Marzo E. Da Silva-Grigolleto, PhD Josimari M. DeSantana
Wichtige Hinweise
Communicated by Bénédicte Schepens.



Exercise-induced muscle pain is a self-limiting condition which impacts physical activity habits. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) promotes pain reduction and functional improvement in different pain conditions. We propose that applying TENS during exercise might reduce pain and improve physical performance. Thus, we aimed to investigate immediate effects of TENS applied during resistance exercise.


Healthy subjects of both sexes, irregularly active or sedentary were assigned into two groups: active (n = 24) or placebo (n = 22) TENS. The study was conducted over five moments: on day 0, subjects were recruited, on day 1 subjects performed the one-repetition maximum test (1RM); 72 h later, on day 2, 1RM was retested; 48 h later, on day 3, TENS was applied during a functional-resisted exercise protocol for upper limbs (bench press and rowing), with an intensity of 80% of 1RM; and 24 h after, on day 4, subjects were reevaluated. Assessment included pain intensity at rest and with movement, pressure pain thresholds, and muscle fatigue.


TENS did not reduce pain intensity when compared to placebo (p > 0.05). TENS reduce PPT in the latissmus dorsi: p = 0.02 and anterior tibialis: p = 0.04 in immediate reassessment. Immediate effects of TENS were significant for fatigue perception at rest (p = 0.01) and number of maximum repetitions during exercise sets, starting from the 5th set of rowing exercise (p = 0.002).


Our results show that TENS did not reduce pain perception in healthy individuals, but its use induced increased muscle action, contributing to a greater fatigue perception.

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