Neuromuscular conditions are some of the most debilitating health concerns plaguing humanity. The ease of movement is something that we all take for granted until mobility restrictions begin to appear in our own lives.
Though age and genetics are regarded as the most common predisposing factors that initiate the beginning of degenerative neuromuscular concerns, there can be other influential variables too. Vibration exercise and therapy are increasingly integrated into prevention and treatment of these conditions. So, one may ask:
What is Vibration Therapy?
In simple terms, vibration therapy involves using an intense vibration or shaking within simple day-to-day workout routines to promote faster healing. To introduce vibration into the workout regime, specially designed equipment is used. These vibrating machines create a wide range of vibration intensities that can be custom manipulated based on the requirement.
The History of Vibration Therapy
In approximately the mid-1800s, Russian scientist Gustav Zander created a weight-and-pulley system to produce vibrations and used it to help improve the overall well-being of his digestive system. This was the earliest official record of using vibration therapy to improve health. Later on, the Russian Space Program also introduced vibration therapy for the astronauts and was soon followed by NASA’s similar endeavor. NASA scientists noticed that astronauts returning to earth after extended space missions experienced accelerated bone loss. They prescribed a daily regimen of 10-15 minutes of vibration therapy for the astronauts to help them regain bone density.
How Does Vibration Therapy Improve Neuromuscular Health?
Vibration can be categorized into two distinctive types:
- Localized – The vibration machine is placed at a specific local area that needs immediate relief.
- Systemic or Whole Body – Whole-body vibration requires one to sit or stand on the machine for the vibration machine to produce the vibrating effect.
The vibrations produced by vibrating machines can be vertical, horizontal or even circular in direction. As the vibration continues, the musculature of the body contracts and relaxes in a consistent yet frequent manner. This results in increased production of osteoblasts, a well-known and key component of bone formation. The increased production of these bone-forming cells promotes overall healthy growth and well-being for the skeletal system.
How is Vibration Therapy Incorporated into the Workout Routine?
Regular exercise moves like squats, pushups, crunches, deadlifts, etc. are widespread and easy to incorporate into vibration training. It’s simple – rather than a flat surface, a vibration machine is used as the base support for the exercise!
Since the vibration machine constantly produces vibrations while exercising, the muscular workout is intensified. This produces faster results in the form of leaner muscles, stronger bones, and decreased fat content within a shorter time span than workout programs that don’t include vibration.
What Are the Various Exercise Routines That Can be Done While Using a Vibration Machine?
As mentioned above, push-ups, crunches, and squats are great options, especially for beginners. Foam rolling devices are also starting to incorporate vibrations. However, as time goes on and the user gets accustomed to the constant vibration during the workout routines, numerous other exercises can be introduced.
These exercises might include calf raises, lunges, planks, bench press, side lunges, dead lifts, side planks, leg raises, sit-ups, v-sits, standing shoulder press, bent over rows, balancing exercises and more! Any free-standing or weight-bearing exercise is feasible.
Choosing the Right Vibration Machine
Vibration machines today come in various sizes and with numerous configurations. Choosing the best vibration machine from a wide range of options can be difficult and confusing. The simple solution is to choose a vibrating machine based on a few notable factors. They are:
- Size – Larger vibrating machines are bound to be heavy and occupy a lot of space. Choosing a machine based on the overall size of the area where it will be permanently kept is the first point one should consider.
- Requirements – There are certain scenarios where prescribed vibration therapy is restricted to specific regions of the body. In such cases, it’s unwise to invest in a whole-body vibration setup.
- Functionalities – The best vibrating machines available today are equipped with a wide range of functionality based on the duration, intensity, and direction of the vibrating currents.
Additional Benefits of Using Vibration Machines
In addition to helping with neuromuscular improvement, vibration machines are also known to promote numerous other health benefits too. These include:
- Weight Loss – Obesity is one of the primary global health concerns today as it leads to numerous additional issues like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more. Adding vibration therapy to regular exercise routines can help burn calories faster and produce better results.
- Improved Bone Density – Vibration therapy promotes osteoblastic cell formation; the key structures for increased bone strength. Using a vibration machine during a workout adds noticeable changes in overall bone density. This may be a special consideration for menopausal and post-menopausal women in preventing bone loss, and a tool for aging populations to stay strong.
- Boosts Metabolism – Research has shown that vibration therapy is known to promote leptin production in the body. Leptin is one of the primary components that inhibits hunger.
- Improved Lymphatic Drainage and Blood Circulation – Vibration therapy improves the fluidity of the circulating blood as well as the lymphatic drainage system. This helps with the faster removal of toxins and increased oxygen production within the body. Both of these factors promote the overall well-being for organ function and other bodily systems.
- Reduces the Effects of Parkinson’s Disease – Vibration therapy machines may help to reduce the intensity of neuromuscular tremors and also decrease the muscular rigidity that occurs specifically in Parkinson’s disease.
- Improved Sleep – The hormone ghrelin impacts sleep patterns in humans. Increased ghrelin hormone can cause spikes in hunger and sleep disturbances. Exercising with a vibration machine can help stabilize the release of the ghrelin hormone and improve overall sleep quality.
- Reduced Back and Joint Pain – Joint and bone pain are often the result of osteoarthritis. Low impact and low-stress workout routines are often prescribed to people who suffer from these ailments; however, combining vibration therapy with these routines has been shown to increase glucosamine and chondroitin production in the body. Both of these components are essential for cartilage metabolism.
- Decrease of Blood Pressure – Stress and other additional underlying factors can cause increased blood pressure. Vibration therapy relaxes the body and mind, and helps reduce stress while improving circulation.
Contraindications of Vibration Machines
Despite the numerous health benefits vibration machines offer, there are certain scenarios where vibration therapy can cause more damage than good. This adverse effect is generally a result of interference created by the vibration.
The contradictory situations include:
- Patients with pacemakers and other electronic implants
- Patients recovering from operations
- Epileptic and other neurological disabilities
Vibration therapy has many benefits for the neuromuscular and skeletal systems, and can be used by astronauts, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts alike. It also offers many benefits for certain health complications such as osteoarthritis, back pain, Parkinson’s Disease, osteoporosis, and more. Choosing the right machine is crucial for maximal benefits. If you’re hesitant or unsure about starting vibration therapy then consult with a trusted fitness professional or physical therapist before getting started. They can help address your concerns and point you in the right direction so that you can enjoy vibration training in a safe and healthy manner!
Many thanks to my friends at Elliptical Ninja for collaborating on this content and helping us learn more about vibration therapy benefits!
Yours in health and wellness,