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How Does Whole Body Vibration Work?

With a suitable machine and correct technique Whole Body Vibration can stimulate the body in a variety of unique and beneficial ways not possible with other forms of exercise. Research confirms that a number of direct effects on the body are possible:

·         Stimulations of Muscle & other Reflexes

·         An increase in Gravitational Load

·         Mobilisation of Joints & Muscles

·         Rapid Heating of Joints & Muscles

 

The Basics

Riding a Wave of Energy

When you stand or place other parts of your body on Hypervibe’s moving platform, the repetitive upward movement of the platform sends pulses of kinetic energy up through your body. You control the strength of these energy waves using the machine’s control panel.

As each wave moves up through your body some of the energy is absorbed by the tissues of your body and is converted to heat. Muscles and joints feel and operate better when they are warm. Whole Body Vibration has been proven to create a warming effect in muscles and joints faster and easier than other types of exercise.

The upwards movement of the platform also causes movement in the joints of your body which has a mobilising effect and causes the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints to stretch and vibrate.

Muscle Reflexes

Your brain is constantly monitoring the position of your joints and will increase muscle activation in an attempt to stabilise your posture when there is a risk of you becoming unbalanced.

Further, if the stretching and vibration of tissues is sufficient, microscopic sensors inside your body detect these changes and quickly activate reflexes that cause the muscles to contract 1, keeping joints and soft tissues protected from excessive movement. The strength of muscle contraction depends on the strength of the energy pulse coming up from the platform and the health of your nerves and muscles.

Warmed Up and Ready

Repetitive pulses of sufficient energy cause rhythmic muscles contractions. In a short time, the cumulative effect of exercising warms 4 and mobilises the joints and muscles 1 as well as the increased circulation caused by muscle pumping5, leaves you with a pleasant feeling, makes movement easier and prepares the body for working optimally.

 

Whole Body Vibration

Whole Body Vibration is a unique way of increasing your exposure to gravity.2 The upward movement of the platform causes the body to accelerate upwards. Imagine the example of standing in an elevator. If the elevator was to move downwards at high speed it would make you feel light, almost like floating.

If however it suddenly slowed to a stop and immediately moved upwards with rapidly increasing speed it would feel like your body just became a lot heavier and you would have to push down with your legs to keep yourself upright.

Whole Body Vibration creates an effect similar to the elevator moving upwards, it’s as if your body just became heavier. You feel this acceleration as a force on your body, a force called G-force which is adding to the force of gravity pulling you toward the Earth.

Where conventional exercise has failed, researchers at the European Space Agency have successfully used Whole Body Vibration to completely prevent the degeneration in bone and muscle during prolonged weightlessness by using Whole Body Vibration.

At this point it becomes important to distinguish between Vibration Training machines and Vibration Massage machines. In the European Space Agency experiments the most successful outcomes came from using a G-force of 15G 7. Reducing that to 10G resulted in partial success. Reducing to 5G or less reduced the effectiveness by 70-100% ie. if muscle, bone and body conditioning are your goals, using low G-force is ineffective for all but the most frail and deconditioned individuals.

G-force is the most important factor when it comes to stimulating the body to improve with Whole Body Vibration. If you want maximum results with minimum time and effort your aim should be to use the highest G-forces you feel comfortable with.

Gravitational Load (G-force)

Gravity And Health

As decades of research with Astronauts has revealed, Gravity is vitally important for the health of your muscles, bones, cardiovascular and practically every other system of your body.

Reducing the amount of gravity on your body leads to degeneration of those same body systems. Even if you continue to exercise regularly, without constant exposure to gravity pulling vertically through your body (as in the standing position), without sufficient stimulus from gravity the body will break down. Dr. Joan Vernikos of NASA illustrates this point:

“In spite of strenuous exercise in space, for several hours every day, loss in bone, muscle and cardiovascular function happens ten times faster in space than on Earth. Exercise without gravity is not as effective.”

You may never visit the microgravity of space but even here on Earth, the same ‘gravity reduction’ occurs when we sit or lie down. According to NASA, prolonged sitting closely resembles being in microgravity and has the same outcome; accelerated aging.

The good news according Dr. Vernikos is that this is reversible. When Astronauts return to full gravity their health returns. Similarly when people who spend too much time avoiding gravity by sitting get up and expose themselves to full gravity, they get stronger and healthier and this includes the elderly.

References

·         Cochrane DJ. Changes in joint angle, muscle-tendon complex length, muscle contractile tissue displacement, and modulation of EMG activity during acute whole-body vibration. Muscle Nerve. 2009 Sep;40(3):420-9

·         Bosco C. The Influence of Whole-Body Vibration on the Mechanical Behaviour of Skeletal Muscle; Clinical Physiology, 1999; 19: 183-187

·         Dastmenash S. The effect of whole body vibration, PNF training or a combination of both on hamstrings range of motion. World Applied Sciences Journal 2010; 11(6): 744-751

·         Cochrane, D. The Effect of Acute Lower-Body Vibration Exercise on the Rate of Muscle Temperature Increase. European Journal of Applied Physiology (2008):103, 441-448

·         Stewart JM. Plantar vibration improves leg fluid flow in perimenopausal women. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):R623-9

·         Rittweger, J., 'Vibration as an exercise modality: how it may work and what its potential might be.' European Journal of Applied Physiology (2010) Mar;108(5): 877-904

·         Rittweger, J., 'Prevention of Bone Loss During 56 Days of Strict Bed Rest By Side-Alternating Resistive Vibration Exercise.' Bone (2010): 46, 137-147

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