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Research into Vibration Training

Whilst there may be plenty of anecdotal evidence on the benefits of using a vibration plate, i.e., many will testify to losing weight, toning up and improving their posture, what about serious scientific research? Have any studies proved beyond doubt its effectiveness?

vibration plate exercise - the Jack Knife Well, before we answer this important question, keep in mind, the nature of these sort of studies.

Firstly, they are usually conducted to answer a very specific question, such as its effect on the piriformis muscle, or for improving balance in patients with Parkinson's disease - so rarely will they research whether your bum will look better for using one!

And secondly, the dry, scientific language used in conclusion, will not read like the manufacturer's and retailers blurb that will wax lyrical about the wonders of these machines (well they would wouldn't they!)

But having said that, these studies will help to improve this relatively new form of training, and hopefully encourage the manufacturers to develop the best machines for delivering the most effective type of vibration.

So onto the research.

Vibration Training Studies

The studies conducted to date can be broken down into three main areas:-

a) Performance enhancement for sport

b) Clinical research for medical conditions.

c) Benefits for weight loss, fitness and posture

a) Sports Performance
In the sports performance studies, research in Italy, Scotland, USA and Belgium did find training on a regular basis over 6 to 8 weeks DID make a difference.

This includes speed of legs, ability to jump and lunge (volleyball players) and flexibility. In these sorts of studies, there will also be a 'control' group who don't do the training, but continue with their usual training regime. 'Before' and 'after' tests are carried out on both groups to determine the effects of the study period. In all these studies, the vibration training group recorded better results than the control groups in specific tests.

However, it must be noted that it's still early days, and some studies have found it counterproductive for certain sports and as yet, it's not yet known which sort of WBV exercises are best, or what type of vibration plate produces better results - and for which sports. It's also unknown how vibration training can help with cross-training and traditional methods of exercise for athletes.

b) Clinical Research
For many, this category represents some of the most valuable research. If standing on a plate for a few minutes a day can help reduce falls, increase bone density and improve strength in the elderly and people suffering from common conditions, we'll have a cost-effective, and relatively simple way to improve the life of a large percentage of this group of people.

So what has been discovered to date? Well, quite a bit. A study in 2003, found WBV training can help to reduce the risk factors associated with falls and fractures in women over 58 - you can read the full report here. Other studies have found just ten minutes a day can help prevent muscle bone density loss of bedridden patients over 55.

A study looking into whether vibration training could help improve the gait and posture of people suffering from Parkinson's Disease, was less convincing. But whilst it found WBV was no more effective than physiotherapy, it concluded that it was a more cost-effective way of helping patients.

There are many studies still ongoing, and hopefully there'll be a number of common, wide-spread conditions that could be helped once the specifics are understood.

c) Benefits for weight loss, fitness and posture
Of the three, there have been fewer studies in this category. However, a number of recent programmes have found vibration training does have benefits.

A study of 48 'untrained' women were split into three groups - one followed a WBV programme, a second performed traditional aerobic and resistance exercises, while the third did no exercises (the control group).

Over a six month period, the exercise groups trained three times a week. Following the programme, whilst there was no significant amount of weight loss in all three groups, the women on the vibration group recorded an increase in fat-free mass, that is, less fat to body weight.

This was due to increased muscle mass (therefore looking leaner), greater than the exercise group, and for training less than half the time per session.

As more research is completed into the effects of vibration training, we expect more and more to prove the benefits of this sort of exercise. And whilst the results between WBV and conventional exercises, may not be that different, the major benefit for most is that these results can be achieved in a matter of minutes a day, rather than an hour or more.

We'll post more results here as they come to our attention.

Content by Roy Palmer - find me on Google+


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