Recently in my reading, I have come across more and more references to whole body vibration training (WBV). Increasing in popularity, WBV training is a fitness trend that utilizes an apparatus that has a vibrating platform on which you can either stand/sit still or perform various exercises (e.g., squats, heel raises, sit-ups, etc.,). Motors underneath the platform typically oscillate at frequencies between 5 and 45 HZ. As the platform oscillates, the vibrations are sent throughout your whole body. These vibrations trigger your muscles to react by contracting and stretching in order to maintain your balance.
WBV training has been touted for providing great health benefits in a shorter period of time with less effort compared to conventional exercise. Sessions typically only require 10-15 minutes at a time performed 3 to 7 days a week. Proponents of WBV training claim that it can increase muscular strength, improve oxygen consumption (aerobic capacity), enhance range of motion and flexibility, increase bone mineral density, improve balance, and boost the neuroendocrine function ("detoxify" your body). Whole body vibration training has been used by health professionals to treat patients in rehabilitation/physical therapy settings as well as by elite athletes and celebrities looking to enhance performance and fitness. WBV platforms are popping up in fitness centers everywhere as well as gaining popularity for home use.
Although WBV training has gained popularity in recent years, the concept is not new. Russian scientists in the 1960's explored the effects of vibration therapy on cosmonauts in an attempt to offset the deleterious effects that space travel has on the muscle and bones due to the lack of gravity in this circumstance. They later applied their findings to the training regimens of Russian athletes to enhance their exercise performance.
Several studies have been conducted on the benefits of whole body vibration training. However, current knowledge is still limited regarding safe and effective exercise protocols that entail use of a vibrating platform. It is generally accepted that WBV platforms that oscillate at a low frequency, low amplitude can provide health benefits. The use of excessively high amplitudes and frequencies can be dangerous and should be avoided.
WBV training is probably not the best form of exercise for individuals who have back problems, are pregnant, or who have unhealed bone fractures. Individuals who are severely de-conditioned, have impaired mobility, and/or are older in age may benefit from WBV training due to the minimal effort required (the option to just stand or sit on the platform, yet still be able to reap the benefits).
As research in this area continues to grow, whole body vibration training may be deemed as an effective form of exercise that can be performed as a supplement to your regular fitness routine.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Br J Sports Med 2005;39:585-589. "Whole Body Vibration Exercise: Are Vibrations Good for You?", Cardinale, M. Wakeling, J.
Self Healing, Agust 2009, p. 4, "Feeling Good Vibrations - Whole-body vibration may build strength and balance."
"Whole Body Vibration Training: An Effective Workout?", Laskowski, E.R.
Labels: vibration platform, WBV, whole body vibration training