Whole Body Vibration

I’ve been intrigued by the benefits of the Whole Body Vibration recently. So much so, that I recently bought a Power Plate to add to my home gym set-up. It’s not cheap, but I am convinced the benefits are worth it. You can find these vibration plates in many gyms, but most people don’t understand how they work or what their beneficial effects are, so I figured I’d write an article with some of the studies I saw that convinced me to invest in one. This is the start of my ultimate home gym setup, and so far I’ve been using it a few times a week, doing my weight workouts (eg squats) on it, as well as push-ups and static holds.

How does it work?
The plate works by sending high speed vibrations throughout your body, moving 25-50 times a second which causes muscles to contract many more times than they do normally. This essentially enhances exercise and means you can complete more in far less time. It also improves circulation and recovery.

What are some of the benefits?

  1. Enhances muscle strength
    This meta analysis looked at randomised controlled trials lasting longer than 4 weeks, directly comparing exercises with and without WBV. It showed significantly larger increases in muscle strength (specifically for knee extension) with WBV as well as increases in vertical jump height. This study shows it improves strength and cardiorespiratory fitness in elderly individuals in less time than without WBV.
  2. May improve bone density
    Post menopausal women are at particularly increased risk of loss of bone density (manifesting as osteoporosis). This systematic review and meta analysis suggested improvement of hip bone density in postmenopauasal women and tibia and spine volumetric bone mass density in young children/adolescents.
  3. Increases growth hormone
    Growth hormone is important for muscle maintainance, tissue repair, energy and vitality. Levels decrease as you get older (partly explaining why its harder to build muscle the older you get). There are a few ways to increase growth hormone, such as lifting heavy weights, optimal sleep, certain supplements and potentially whole body vibration. This analysis showed positive effects in 9 out of 12 studies. Although they had “markedly different methodologies” , the overall evidence is in favour of WBV.
  4. Good form of exercise for those with joint problems
    This small study of patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis, WBV decreased pain compared to “normal” exercise, though strength and balance gains were similar. Because of the lower strain on joints, it can be a useful tool to maintain fitness in those with joint problems.

So, as you can see, whole body vibration can be a great tool to add to your current exercise regime, whether at your local gym or in a home gym setup!

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