Caution about using a tens unit

#1
This is my first post on this forum.
For me the tens unit was a game changer for longer rides. Been using one for a couple of years to relieve back and shoulder pain and now can ride extended hours pain free. Recently did a Bun Burner Gold to Sturgis (not certified yet). I was getting tired and cranked the tens unit up high to help keep me awake and ran it that way for an hour. The result has been skin pain between the pad locations for almost two weeks so far.

For those using tens, easing pain is great, but avoid using it too high. There is very little info on line about harmful effects of using the device cranked up too high but for me it has been quite painful. For those who have back and shoulder pain and aren't using tens, you really want to give it a try.
 
#2
Check that your pads were making a good connection to your skin. Old worn out pads can actually cause the electricity to arc on and across your skin instead of travelling through your tissues and muscles the way it should normally.

Quantities of replacement pads are readily available on Amazon for dirt cheap...I paid about $3 for 20 or 30 of them.
 
#3
Pads were new and I shaved the area for the ride. There is no surface burning, the damage is deeper and still hurts. It's my fault. I was using the device other than intended and had it way way too high.
 
#4
Sorry to hear. Your unit must be more powerful than mine, I have used mine on very high levels before for up to an hour or so at a time and never had any negative effects, although I tend to use the more linear/constant settings vs the more aggressive "bump bump bump" settings that cause too a lot of rhythmic muscle contraction.
 
#5
Saw this late: tens units are great, for limited time amounts. The one I had for my back worked great, but even sitting at home, couldn't put it on too high. Road vibrations may de-sensitize the higher effects, masking potential issues. My last SS1000 & BB1500/36 was done with a lower back brace. That was probably the most beneficial piece of "equipment" I used. Had no arthritic back/lower spine issues or pain at all. Not during and not even after the ride.

Am now waiting for a new tens unit from the VA for home use. Just for sh*ts and giggles, though, I might see how a tens works for me on a semi long ride, say a couple hundred miles, or so. Never thought about it before, but will take the back brace as back up.
 
#6
When I plan on riding more than about 6 hours, I typically put on the pads and hook up the unit. Only turn in on when I start hurting. Biggest benefit has been shoulders.

BTW: Ride was certified! 1570 miles in 23 hours and 53 minutes. Can still occasionally feel where the tens unit was hooked up, but no pain. When I feel it the sensation is more numbness.
 

Jay Bolinger

Premier Member
#9
My last SS1000 & BB1500/36 was done with a lower back brace. That was probably the most beneficial piece of "equipment" I used. Had no arthritic back/lower spine issues or pain at all. Not during and not even after the ride.
I am late to this discussion, but I completely agree with a lower back brace. I use a tens unit at home to aid healing (with fresh pads) but not during a ride. My back brace is the Back a line model and it is well worth the money. (https://www.backaline.com) Great support for those all day certificate or LD rally rides. I have noticed that using this helps eliminate pain between my shoulder blades as well as lower back.
 

David Goebel

Premier Member
#10
So Back to the TENS unit. You;re applying the patches and connecting the unit before you start your ride, then activating it while riding (or stopped or at rest), then riding on with it on for a while? I get terrible between the shoulders pain after about 6 - 8 hours which sometimes goes away, but I've never thought of proactively applying the TENS before riding.
 
#11
So Back to the TENS unit. You;re applying the patches and connecting the unit before you start your ride, then activating it while riding (or stopped or at rest), then riding on with it on for a while? I get terrible between the shoulders pain after about 6 - 8 hours which sometimes goes away, but I've never thought of proactively applying the TENS before riding.
You can certainly do this. You'd probably want to be able to stop to activate it though as doing so while actually underway and then finding out that it's on the wrong setting, wrong intensity, or the pad placements aren't right or they've come loose a little (all of which can cause involuntary muscle contraction or pain) would be very bad to have happen while you're actually riding.

I also personally find that the level of intensity/strength that I eventually find comfortable and beneficial is WAY higher than the initial startup level - you do need to start a TENS unit on a lower setting and then work your way up to a higher level over the period of a minute or so, sometimes faster depending on your comfort with everything.

I tend to use mine at a very high level, but the results are great as a result. Mine also has a variety of modes that provide different stimulation effects and I find some uncomfortable, and some excellent, so make sure you buy a unit with lots of options on modes and levels to find one that works for you.

Also read up on proper pad placement - there is a science to it. And then try it ahead of time to get everything sorted out *before* a ride so you aren't sitting on the side of the road for a half hour (obviously not a perfect scenario if you're actually on an IB run) trying to get it all setup.

Lastly, don't try to re-use pads forever as eventually they stop sticking well and the effect of a loose pad is....shocking. ;) I did that with my first set because the replacement pads directly from the company that made my Tens unit itself were quite expensive....then I discovered they're silly cheap on Amazon, so now I use a new set every few treatments.
 
#12
Thanks, I thought that I'd try it as you suggested on some shorter in-state rides, and maybe give the controller to my wife as she rides behind me and we can talk over our headsets finding the correct settings.