You might have seen a weird machine that looks like an oversized scale with handles at your physiotherapist’s office. If you’re curious, it’s probably a Whole Body Vibration machine (or WBV). Whole body vibration is a new technique on the fitness market, and although some of the hype is a bit exaggerated, there are proven benefits to the vibrating platform.
But what is WBV?
Before delving into the specific benefits, let’s just describe WBV quickly. Whole body vibration therapy derives from a technique developed to help Russian cosmonauts bring back their muscle and bone density up after prolonged stays in space.
WBV works by sending quick vibrations to the entire body so that muscles will contract and relax a few times every second. You either stand or lie on a vibrating platform in different positions to get specific benefits. Some trainers also use dynamic exercises to enhance the effects of the vibration.
Benefits of WBV:
Now that you have an idea of what whole body vibration is, let’s go into its benefits.
1. Increased muscle strength
Short and low-intensity whole body vibration therapy will strengthen your muscles quickly and efficiently. By having them contract and relax several times every second, the vibrating machine stimulates your muscles in ways that no workout exercise can.
Also, more muscles are activated during the session, often muscles that are hard to reach through traditional weight lifting alone.
2. Improved circulation
Research has shown that whole body vibration training instantly improves the circulation of blood and fluid through the body. The quick contraction and relaxation of your muscles act as a pumping effect that increases the efficiency of your blood and lymphatic vessels.
This effect is felt immediately by a warm and tingly sensation to the skin due to vasodilatation (or widening of blood vessels under the skin).
3. Increased performance
Increased performance is more of a long-term effect to whole body vibration training. However, some research shows that it isn’t more effective than traditional training, so you might want to use WBV as a supplement to your regular routine.
If your sport uses explosive power, however, you might find that WBV will be a great asset to your training.
4. Increased bone density
Whole body vibration works on the bones as well as the muscles. Research on cosmonauts showed that whole body vibration brought back bone density to normal terrestrial levels; it’s also widely used with the elderly to help fight bone density loss that’s normal with age.
Whole body vibration activates the bone building cells and helps bring more nutrients to the bone, thus making it stronger and better able to withstand falls and fractures.
Most of these benefits have been proven scientifically through research studies. Nowadays you can find whole body vibration platforms in gyms, physiotherapists’ offices and some are even made for home use. No matter which one you choose, however, get an independent medical opinion to make sure WBV is safe for you.