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Vibration training – is it all it’s shook up to be?

Hadyn Luke posted this on Tuesday 9th of April 2013 Hadyn Luke 09/04/2013

Tags: Training methods

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Vibration training – is it all it’s shook up to be?

This blog looks at vibration training and how a personal trainer might incorporate this form of exercise into a client’s health and fitness routine.

Whole body vibration training involves the use of a piece of fitness equipment such as a Power Plate machine, which is essentially a platform that vibrates. 

Vibration training can be used while carrying out isometric exercises or while holding a fixed position.

The benefits of vibration training

The idea behind this form of exercise is that the vibrations that are sent through the body are believed to improve muscle response and to increase bone density, increasing strength and delaying the onset of osteoarthritis. 

As a result, vibration stimulous has been extensively used by fitness professionals in rehabilitation, for example after an injury, operation or accident. 

An article by M Cardinale and J Wakeling in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Vol 39, Issue 9, September 2005) suggests that whole body vibration training can be beneficial at reducing the results of the ageing process, in particular within the musculoskeletal structures of the body. 

The article explains that vibrating the muscles and bones simulates the effect of an impact such as walking by causing micro tears in the muscles and bones, causing them to regenerate. This can make the muscles stronger and potentially lead to hypertrophy. Within the bone structure, it can increase ossification, thus strengthening the bones. 

In addition, research published in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) journal (Vol 15/No 6, 2011), by Rita Thomás, Vinson Lee and Scott Going, looks at vibration training for specific disorders. 

For neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy, research showed weak to moderate evidence of positive effects from whole body vibration training. 

However, for those with musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction and low bone mineral density (osteoporosis), there is evidence that vibration training can be beneficial. 

These benefits may include:

  • Improved lower body muscle power
  • Increased bone strength
  • Better proprioception and balance
  • Decreased pain in those with osteoarthritis

Factors to take into consideration

There are, however, factors that a personal trainer should take into consideration when recommending vibration training for a client.

Contraindications for the use of vibration training include:

Musculoskeletal:

  • Acute vertebral disc herniation
  • Recent fracture
  • Joint inflammation

Cardio-vascular

  • Pace-maker
  • Uncontrolled hypertension
  • Recent myocardial infarction

Neurological

  • Epilepsy
  • Migraine
  • Peripheral neuropathy

Others:

  • Pregnancy
  • Recent surgery
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence
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