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Whole Body Vibration - Machines Such as the Power Plate Offer an Assortment of Health Benefits

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Author: Richard_Chandler]Richard Chandler

Whole Body Vibration - Machines Such as the Power Plate Offer an Assortment of Health Benefits
By Richard Chandler

Across the United States, exercise machines that utilize whole body vibration technology are beginning to pop up in gymnasiums, fitness centers, and even homes. Already popular in the United Kingdom, whole body vibration with machines such as the Power Plate has been integrated into fitness routines and utilized in training and therapy sessions. Everyone from professional athletes to those who just want to get in shape are benefiting from the effects of this type of exercise and enjoying the shorter workout times needed.

While some skeptics may disregard the whole body vibration machines such as the Power Plate as simply a "fitness fad", celebrities like Madonna and Shaquille O'Neal have used the machine as an added low impact exercise to increase the effectiveness of their workouts. Machines such as the Power Plate are appealing for a number of reasons. The sessions are shorter than most other machines, it takes up very little space, and it is not hard on your joints like running. But many still wonder, "What is whole body vibration and how does it work?"

A History of Whole Body Vibration and How it Works

While the technology behind machines like the Power Plate may seem like a recent discovery, whole body vibration dates back to the time of the ancient Greeks who used it to speed up the healing process of injuries. A piece of cloth was wrapped around the injured body part on one end and tied to a flexible saw at the other, which would provide the vibrations. Though simple in its design, the ancient Greek method was similar to the Health and Beauty Belt Massagers that have been around for decades. Famed physician and inventor John Harvey Kellogg also used mechanical vibrations in the late 19th century to treat patients with a variety of disorders.

The first to utilize whole body vibration in its most modern application was Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov, using what he referred to as "Biomechanical Stimulation." By using vibrations to stimulate movement of the muscles, the Russian Space Program found that they could keep their cosmonauts in space longer without worrying about the adverse affects it would have on their bones and muscles. Later, ballet dancers discovered that whole body vibration allowed them to recover from minor muscle injuries quicker. They also noticed increased muscle strength and jump height, leading many of Russia's top Olympic athletes to adopt the same method of training.

Whole Body Vibration exercises muscles by creating instability in the user's body. With each vibration, the muscles in the body are forced to perform reflexive, contracting muscle actions anywhere from 25 to 50 times per second. The contractions must work in multiple dimensions vibrating plate machines oscillate on all three planes, much like the human body is designed to do. The end result is a tough workout in a fraction of the usual time, increasing overall strength and power.

The way that whole body vibration works is best explained by the law of motion, as stated by Sir Isaac Newton: force = mass x acceleration. In other words, by applying more mass or more acceleration the body, one can increase and improve functional force (strength, power, etc). Most workout equipment increases the mass part of the equation by adding weight, such as weight machines, free weights, and resistance devices. Machine like the Power Plate increase the acceleration part of the equation, thereby obtaining the same results in a much more low-impact form.

Whole Body Vibration Benefits - More Than Just for Athletes

An assortment of health benefits make vibration exercises beneficial to more than just athletes. Increased blood circulation along with higher levels of hormones such as serotonin contributes to overall physical and mental health beyond athletic training. Studies conducted by independent research groups have found that the increase in circulation and stimulation of unused or rarely used muscles in elderly patients helped them to regain a significant amount of balance and mobility. It also helped to burn fat and cellulite as well as increase bone density. Because the vibration plate machines require shorter usage time, elderly patients were able to get an effective workout in a fraction of the usual time, preventing them from being fatigued.

Athletes and personal trainers find that machines like the Power Plate are great tools for rehabilitation. The NFC Champion New York Giants have a Power Plate in their training center for conditioning and recovery from injuries. Improved flexibility, balance, and reaction time along with faster healing of muscle and tendon injuries make this device extremely valuable to a number of professional and college sports teams. Shaquille O'Neal used it to speed up his post-surgery recovery process during the 2002-2003 NBA season and has inspired many of his fellow athletes to add it to their training regimen.

Whole Body Vibration is Not for Everyone

While whole body vibration is ideal for helping speed up the recovery process, it is not recommended for those with recent wounds from an operation or surgical intervention as the motion may loosen stitches. It is also not recommended for those with recently fitted IUDs, metal pins, coils, bolts, or plates. Pregnant women as well as those with Epilepsy, severe diabetes, synthetic/artificial joints, tumors, and pacemakers should avoid the body vibration as a form of exercise. If you are unsure as to whether or not vibration exercise is safe for you, check with your doctor before ordering.

Richard Chandler researches innovative new healthcare devices, medical supplies, and mobility aids for ActiveForever. For more information on the physical therapy products, fitness equipment, or other durable medical equipment, please visit [ ] or visit the Medical Supplies Blog at

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