When you stand or place other parts of your body on the Whole Body Vibration Machines 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 that has a mobilizing effect and causes the muscles and tissues surrounding the joints to stretch and vibrate.
Your brain is continuously monitoring the position of your joints and will increase muscle activation in an attempt to stabilize your posture when there is a risk of you becoming unbalanced.
Further, if the stretching and vibration of tissues are sufficient, microscopic sensors inside your body detect these changes and quickly activate reflexes. That causes the muscles to contract, keeping joints and soft tissues protected from excessive movement. The strength of muscle contraction depends on the force of the energy pulse coming up from the platform and the health of your nerves and muscles.
Repetitive pulses of sufficient energy cause rhythmic muscle contractions. In a short time, the cumulative effect of exercising warms and mobilizes the joints and muscles as well as the increased circulation caused by muscle pumping. This leaves you with a pleasant feeling, makes movement easier and prepares the body for working optimally.
The Frequency of vibration is a measure of how many times the platform moves up and down each second. Our Machines (Hypervibe G17) have a minimum frequency of 5Hz (Five times a second) and a maximum of 35Hz.
Higher frequencies generate a faster platform movement and deliver more energy to your body, however, the way that muscles respond to vibration stimulus is complicated. The frequencies that are best for YOU to train with will depend on your body type, your level of fitness and your desired outcomes.
For example, the weight of existing research shows that muscle stretch reflex activity peaks around 30Hz or less. However, each muscle belly contains multiple stretch receptors that are not necessarily activated all at exactly the same time. There exists the possibility that while one muscle fiber and its nerves are already responding to a vibration stimulus. Therefore, unable to react to another wave of vibration energy, another is resting and available to respond to vibration.
This would increase the ability of the muscle to keep responding to vibration frequencies above 30Hz however there are yet other factors that set an upper limit on the frequencies that muscles can respond to. One example is "synchronization" in which the nerves that control the muscle belly become more and more likely to fire at the same time. This adaptation is reported to increase at vibration frequencies above 40Hz and in particular in trained weight lifters.
When reflexes are triggered, the strength of the resultant muscle contraction will depend on the rate of stretch. It will determine how fast the muscle is stretched (depends on the vibration frequency) and also the degree or amount of stretch that is determined by the vibration amplitude.
If you are trying to determine the best frequency to maximize your muscle activation, get a sense of how your muscles feel at frequencies below 30Hz before attempting higher frequencies. Many users report the intensity of muscle activity noticeably declines when increasing from 40Hz to 50Hz, which would indicate their limit is around 40Hz.
Beyond 30-40Hz, the degree to which your muscles continue to increase their level of activity becomes highly individual. It will be influenced by factors such as your age, fitness, body weight, height and level of Whole Body Vibration experience.
Most people can be quite sure that their muscles will increase in activation from 15 to 30Hz.
Along with frequency, the amplitude of the plate movement is also a critical factor that determines how much energy is delivered to your body. Amplitude is a measure of how high the platform moves above its horizontal resting place. The total distance a platform moves up and down is called its peak-to-peak Amplitude or its Displacement. Our machines (Hypervibe G17) have a peak-to-peak Amplitude of 7 millimeters.
Larger amplitudes cause a greater amount of movement of muscles and joints and generate a stronger response from the organs controlling muscle reflexes. If however, the amplitude became so significant that it caused you to bounce up and down off the platform, the exercise would become ineffective.
Small amplitudes are more comfortable with doing upper body work on the platform however they will reduce the stimulation to your body and for lower body work could render the exercise ineffective. You should exercise with the largest amplitude you feel comfortable with.
The upward movement of the platform causes the body to accelerate upwards. Imagine the example of standing in an elevator. If the elevator were 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.
With a high frequency (eg. 28Hz) to create rapid movement and a high amplitude (eg. 11mm) to produce a sufficient amount of movement, Whole Body Vibration produces an effect similar to the elevator moving upwards, it's as if your body just became a lot 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.
Because of this additional gravitational load, your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright. When a Whole Body Vibration machine can generate a high degree of G-force using frequencies close to 30Hz you get the additional effect of stretch reflex muscle activation resulting in your muscles working hard without you actually having to try; the machine is doing the work for you.
If you have been out of condition for some time or are recovering from an injury or poor health, you may need to limit the intensity of your Whole Body Vibration exercise to begin with. Using lower frequencies and/or amplitudes will limit the G-force.
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 for 5-10 minutes each session.
"Humans Thrive With Enough Gravity But Perish Without It!"
The human body thrives when under sufficient gravity but perishes under low gravity. Think of what happens to Astronauts in the zero-gravity of space. According to Dr. Per Tesch of Sweden's Karolinska Institute, Astronauts lose muscle at a rate of 2% per week and bone at a rate of 1% per month. eg. A man with 60kg of muscle would lose 11kg of muscle after just 10 weeks in zero-gravity.
These are all reversed when the Astronaut returns to Earth's gravity. Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov discovered that Astronaut recovery happened much quicker when the Astronauts used Whole Body Vibration. Using Whole Body Vibration gave the Russian Space Program a secret advantage enabling Russian Cosmonauts to stay in space three times longer than American Astronauts.
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:
The type of machine and the settings used determine the degree to which you experience those effects, if at all.
FACT:Not all Whole Body Vibration machines can generate these effects on the body to a significant degree, in fact, most cannot.
Our machines (Hypervibe G17) are one of very few machines with the right combination of power and features needed to generate these effects on your body in a significant way.
The key to Whole Body Vibration effectiveness is G-force. A review of the research literature indicates that insufficient G-force is the #1 reason for disappointing outcomes in many if not most cases.
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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