The Neubie is an FDA-cleared device indicated for increasing one’s range of motion, neuromuscular re-education, muscle atrophy, reducing muscle spasms and managing both chronic and acute pain. Photo of the NeuFit scanning process with the Neubie device, courtesy of NeuFit.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a form of therapy used to stimulate muscles via surface electrodes that deliver low amplitude electrical currents to the underlying nerves. It is used in sports medicine and rehabilitation for cases requiring muscle strengthening, maintaining muscle strength and mass during extended periods of immobilization (such as after surgery) and to retrain muscles. NMES devices use either alternating currents or more commonly, pulsed direct current in clinical settings. The direct current option is employed by the Neubie device from NeuFit, the company behind the next-generation electrical stimulation devices.
Opting for the Neubie over traditional NMES devices that use alternating currents allows individuals to use a more functional range of motion during treatment. Additionally, the Neubie is designed to dissipate heat and charge buildup, so higher current intensities can be used without irritating the skin.
Recently, a peer reviewed study at the University of South Florida (USF) investigated how high load resistance exercise and pulsed direct current from the Neubie compare in acute changes to the upper body. The study demonstrates how similar the results are when using either of the training methods in terms of muscle thickness, fatigue and soreness, but with overall lower feelings of exertion from participants when they used the Neubie device.
Comparing Neubie to Traditional Training
The Neubie is an FDA-cleared device indicated for increasing one’s range of motion, neuromuscular re-education, muscle atrophy, reducing muscle spasms and managing both chronic and acute pain. However, it also shows promise for use in training by individuals who want to experience less perceived exertion during exercise.
Dr. Samuel L. Buckner of the USF Muscle Lab in the Exercise Science Program lead the study investigating the use of NMES as a mode of training and the tolerability of the Neubie device. The study involved 34 participants between the ages of 18 to 35. All participants regularly performed resistance exercises targeting the upper body for at least six months. The primary measurements were taken over the course of 48 hours and involved performing bicep curls with a traditional heavy load (TRAD) that was 70 percent of their maximum capability, or unweighted bicep curls with the direct pulsed current from the Neubie. After completing one of these exercise options, the participants rested for 15 minutes and subsequently completed the other exercise with the opposite arm.
Both forms of training resulted in increases in muscle thickness and soreness, and a decrease in isometric (contraction) strength for 24 hours. The changes in soreness and isometric strength persisted for 48 hours, but the increase in muscle thickness was evident longer in arms that used the TRAD exercise. Based on the similarity in the acute changes between TRAD and Neubie training, the study results suggest that soreness is not necessarily indicative of muscle growth, and the effects of the Neubie are comparable to that of resistance training.
NMES as an Alternative to Traditional Resistance Training
With respect to the study findings, Dr. Buckner stated in NeuFit’s press release that “although these results provide a limited picture, they provide some indication that the Neubie device may lead to similar long-term adaptations [as resistance training].”
It is possible that NMES devices like the Neubie can be used as an effective short-term option for people who want to develop or maintain their muscles but avoid the higher perceived exertion that comes with resistance training. The results from the Neubie also add to the increasing evidence that muscle growth does not require a heavy exercise load.
“The results of this study align with what we see with patients every day — that the Neubie can be an effective alternative to traditional resistance exercise. It has been especially helpful for patients recovering from injury or surgery and other cases where high-load resistance training may not be appropriate,” said founder and CEO of NeuFit, Garrett Salpeter.
Short-term use is evidently beneficial in the highlighted cases, but further research is required to better understand the neuromuscular response to the Neubie when used for a longer term, such as over eight to 12 weeks.