Vibration training machines such as Power Plates might seem one of the newer categories of fitness kit to appear, but powerplate vibration technology has been used to improve the performance of the human body for a surprisingly long time.
WBV (Whole Body Vibration) is a principle of fitness training that has been developed over the last 40 years. Having been used originally in ancient Greece for rehabilitation and "wellness", developments in technology in the 1970s with Russia's top sports scientist, Dr Vladimir Nazarov, introduced the technology to competitive sports, ballet and medicine in the former USSR. It was also adopted by the Russian Space Program, and more recently by the European Space Agency and NASA, as a way of countering muscle and bone wastage caused by weightlessness in space.
Nowadays WBV is used in a wide range of settings, from hospitals and rehab clinics to health clubs and professional sports training centres. Among a long list of benefits, vibration training helps to increase muscular strength, endurance, power and size, bone mineral density and joint stability as well as improve balance and posture, flexibility and hormone profile and reduce pain and fatigue.
The principle is simple: When you're in contact with a vibration platform, the body subconsciously thinks the floor is unstable or dropping away, and reacts by recruiting all the available muscle fibres to keep you upright/in certain positions.
Variables for Training
The variables for training with vibration are frequency (speed the platform moves per second), amplitude (degree of movement/vibration), duration and plane of movement.
Whole Body Vibration is now an established form of training in the UK health club market. Most manufacturers attempt to create a predominantly vertical movement - also known as displacement - knowing the body is designed to absorb vertical vibrations due to gravity. This has an instant effect on the muscles, bones and various other systems. Some manufacturers also create some side-to-side and front-to-back movement. This can develop stability and co-ordination but does require the frequency to be set far higher.
Vibration Plate Types
There are four forms of vibration plate technology: crank, motor, see-saw and linkage. Crank and motor are the most common first generation technology and have an up and down and lateral movement. The see-saw has a rocking movement and the linkage has a purely vertical movement. The linkage system is the next generation technology. It is recognised that the vertical movement is the most efficient and effective due to the energy transfer through the vertical plane.
Who can benefit from Whole Body Vibration (WBV)?
WBV has a wide range of applications - the elderly for balance, de-conditioned athletes to enhance performance, regular people to complement a fitness regime and medical experts to enhance rehab.
Effects of Whole Body Vibration
WBV training is often referred to as Express or Acceleration Training due to its rapid training effect. The higher the frequency does not necessarily mean the most effective and efficient. In fact it is down to the effectiveness of the movement of the platform. It is widely recognised that the most effective form of increased muscle activation is in a vertical plane. Dependent on the user the workout can be reduced from an hour down to 20 minutes to gain the same effect.
The beauty of vibration training is that you can perform most exercises on them. If you select a platform without a mast, this allows for a wider range of movements and techniques incorporating hand/free weights, stability balls, kettlebells and resistance bands.
Comfort and Noise
Comfort comes from how well the body absorbs the movement/vibration. You should not feel shake. Lower frequencies and a vertical vibration provides the greatest comfort and less noise. The higher the frequency usually means the higher the noise and more aggressive the feeling.
Health and Safety
Although there is much debate regarding the safety of high frequency vibration, there is no conclusive proof that prolonged time at frequencies higher that 20Htz have a negative effect on the body. However the ISO & OSHA standard warns not to expose the body to G-Forces greater than 1G (in addition to the earth's gravitational pull). The higher the frequency combined with amplitude the greater the G-Force. Like with any forms of exercise, we recommend you consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
There are 1000s of research papers and ongoing research into the effects of vibration training. Much research has been conducted with a wide range of subjects, including those who have special needs, disabilities or particular medical issues, such as the elderly and frail, those with injuries as well as conditioned and elite athletes. We will be pleased to supply a list of papers. Please ask in store. There are also new studies currently being conducted on conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's and juvenile obesity.