Whole Body Vibration
What is Whole Body Vibration and what is all the fuss about? Whole Body Vibration (WBV) was first used by Russian astronauts to reduce muscle and bone loss after space travel, it was then used by athletes to increase flexibility and strength. More recently, WBV has been studied for its positive effects on bone and muscle strength, bone mineral density, circulation and balance among other things.
The beauty of WBV, if it is as successful as it says it is, is that you don’t have to do very much while using the machine to unprotected to results… possibly the holy grail of exercise, or rather, non-exercise! A WBV machine transmits mechanical vibrations by a plate that you stand on. These vibrations can be set at a range of speeds designed to target different things. At its lowest setting, standing on the plate is something like being on a bus going over shudder bars. This setting can be used to test and aim your balance and postural control. For people with a history of falls or fear of falling, the external perturbation of the vibrations can be a very useful adjunct to regular exercise.
At higher settings the WBV machine starts to elicit a stretch reflex in the muscles. The vibrations cause rapid contraction and relaxation of the muscles at this speed which then works like a pump on the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels to increase blood flow and circulation by the body.
At the highest speeds between 16-28Hz, which method your muscles are contracting up to 28 times per second, the vibrations are much more intense and feel as if they are working all of your lower limb muscles, right up by your pelvic floor and back. WBV has been used at this intensity to aim muscle strength which is important for explosive activities in athletics in addition as movements requiring additional leverage such as getting up out of a chair safely.
Paul, who is has an incomplete spinal cord injury at T10 has been using WBV for several months now as part of his current rehabilitation program. He has found immediate improvement from only 10 minutes per session on the machine. Paul uses WBV at the start of his therapy session and has consistently found better outcomes during the remainder of the session for balance, muscle coordination and overall function.
Although WBV is not appropriate for everyone, the therapists at improvement Rehab Centre have found it to be a useful adjunct to regular therapy, especially for people who are less mobile, have problems with their circulation, balance and lower limb strength. For information about whole body vibration or rehabilitation please visit the web-site at http://www.archealth.com.au