Maybe now more than ever before, people have had to get creative to keep themselves entertained. While we're not going out as much as we used to and don't see many people face to face, social media is a massive form of entertainment. And it feels like people are getting more and creative when it comes to finding ways to spend time. Take the TENS unit beer challenge for example.
What is the TENS unit beer challenge?
When the social platform TikTok burst onto the scene, playful challenges became the thing to do. There is no shortage of creativity and when it comes to which challenge is going to pick up and go viral on the platform, it's a crapshoot. We've seen some intricate dance moves go viral, specific filters become the top trend, and sometimes dangerous trends become a thing, too.
The latest trend sparked on the platform in the middle of the global health crisis. In the summer of 2020 when we were all missing our friends and ran out of titles to watch on Netflix, people got more creative. And that's how the TENS unit beer challenge became a thing.
According to Medical News Today, TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. TENS units are used to help people dealing with pain by delivering small electrical impulses. These are delivered through electrodes attached to pads and they're attached to the skin in areas where there is pain. These units are commonly used in physiotherapy and massage therapy practices, but units can be purchased to use at home as well.
There are several different pulses the electrodes can do, depending on the TENS unit. The basic idea behind it is that these pulses flood the nervous system and break up the transmission of pain signals to the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes, these pulses make the muscles twitch – and that's the idea behind this challenge.
During the challenge, people put TENS units on their arms. When they turn the unit on, they put it up to a higher setting, which can cause more of those muscle twitches. The challenge comes in when the person participating then picks up a beer and tries to bring it to their mouth to drink it while the TENS unit is delivering the electrical impulses.
On TikTok, the challenge is sorted under the hashtag #tensunitchallenge. With over 22 million views on the videos added to the collection, it's boomed in popularity with people laughing at the absurdity of it.
What happens when you try and drink a beer while there's a TENS unit on your arm at full power? Well, people can't get their arms and hands to move as they'd expect. Instead of a smooth movement from table to mouth, the person taking part in the challenge stutters their arm and spills their beer, all with an uncomfortable look on their face because the electrical impulses are so strong.
The challenge doesn’t have to be done with beer. There are several teens who have tried their hand at the challenge using other drinks like water. It's silly, but it seems to be the content people really want to watch right now.
Is the TENS unit beer challenge dangerous?
According to Massage Therapy Concepts, there are some risks that come with participating in the challenge. They list things like the danger of having liquid near the TENS unit, warning, "This could result in strong electric shocks, and even death."
They also warn not to use on skin that has wounds or damaged skin, and that it's not smart to operate the TENS unit while under the influence. "There is a risk that the user will place the TENS Unit on any of the body's 'danger zones,'" when they're under the influence, "such as the head, heart, eyes, genitals, and throat. This could result in permanent nerve and/or heart problems and is especially dangerous for those who have a pacemaker."