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Vibration Training

Vibration training has become extremely popular over the last couple of decades: most gyms will have one of the leading brands of vibration machines currently available on the market.

They are a great way to intensify standard body weight exercises and condense a lot of work into a short period of time.

The vibration is also excellent for self-administered massage and stretching. The strong vibration can get deep into the muscle tissue, helping it to relax and lengthen. Many of these poses feel very satisfying and give the exerciser a more complete sense of stretch and muscle release than conventional stretches. It works well with osteopathy and Pilates.

Vibration Training  in Notting Hill

The Vibration training machine in the Natural Moves Studio in Notting Hill, London W10

Vibration training was initially used by researchers that studied the effect of zero gravity on muscle wasting and bone density of cosmonauts.

Vibration between the frequencies between 30-50 Hz can help improve strength and power – Power is defined as work done within a specific time. Vibration can also reduce pain and relieve muscle tension.  The Notting Hill Studio is equipped with the jtxPro-10 Vibration Training Machine, one of the best in the market.

There are two types of muscle contraction concentric and eccentric .

  • Concentric muscle contraction shortens a muscle, for example a biceps curl.
  • Eccentric muscle contraction is when a muscle lengthens under a load, for example lowering the weight again after a biceps curl.

Eccentric contractions are harder work that concentric contractions.

Vibration training uses predominately eccentric muscle contraction. The patient holds a position that loads a muscle and the vibration causes the muscle to contract many times per second.

This facilitates maximum energy expenditure in the shortest period of time. A similar amount of conventional exercise would require the muscle to be loaded with heavy weights, whereas vibration training only uses body weight. This allows the muscle to be worked to failure without straining the tendons or joints as much as conventional exercise.

Vibration training also minimises the inflammation that results from the micro-trauma seen as a consequence of intense exercise. This has benefits when managing an injury or training to enhance athletic performance.  Because one does not need to perform a full squat in order to work the quads and glutes, vibration training is particularly useful for those with a knee or ankle condition that will not allow a full range squat. This is particularly common in the elderly.

Older patients also benefit from the positive effect of vibration on bone density and muscle mass.

a detail of the Vibration training machine in the Natural Moves Studio in Notting Hill, London W10

How Effective Is Vibration Training?

Vibration training study

Studies have demonstrated that vibration training can measurably improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce abdominal fat. Abdominal obesity is a significant risk factor for heart disease stroke and diabetes.

In 2005 British Olympic Medical Institute together with the University of Aberdeen commissioned a study on the effectiveness vibration training. They found that vibration training improved both strength and flexibility. It was particularly beneficial for explosive strength – the type of strength needed for sprinting and jumping. Perhaps this is because vibration training is not only exclusively eccentric it is also anaerobic – the type of muscle respiration needed for explosive force.

When a patient is injured, they are likely to experience pain. Pain inhibits the neurological drive to muscles. This can cause unwanted alterations in the way people walk and move.

Bundles of muscle fibres are controlled by single nerves called motor units. Vibration training will almost instantly stimulate more motor units to be recruited. This would explain the instant improvement in muscle function, gait and the reduction in pain seen when using vibration training for some types of acutely painful conditions.

It can be very useful for the treatment of acute lumbar disc injury.

Other studies have shown in immediate effect on blood flow and fluid dynamics. The oscillating muscle contraction acts as a pump. It helps improve blood supply and lymph drainage essential for nutrient supply and clearing waste products and inflammatory chemicals. This is a vital part of maintaining healthy tissues.

Studies into neurological disorders that cause weakness and muscle wasting have shown that vibration training can help to inhibit the loss of both strength and muscle mass. The vibration can also have positive effects on the sensory component of neurological conditions.

Vibration training is not suitable for pregnant women or those who have had joint replacements.