Q: “What is a vibration platform and how is it used?”
A: As the name suggests, a vibration platform is an apparatus used in physical training and rehabilitation which features a rapidly oscillating platform on which clients can stand or perform exercises.
The benefit of standing or performing exercises on an oscillating base is based on the co-contraction of muscles required to control the rapidly shifting base of support. Standing on a wobble board or BOSU ball delivers an unstable base requiring mass activation of muscles performing the activity as well as activation of core musculature. By standing on a rapidly oscillating surface, this effect is multiplied many fold. Functional strength gains are not simply related to muscle hypertrophy (growth) but also to neural (nerve) activation facilitating coordinated movement through an increase in the nerve endings supplying each group of muscle spindles. We speak of ‘functional strength gains’ meaning an increased force output and improved function levels (e.g. vertical jump height) without having gained muscle mass. In other words, we can improve the efficiency of muscle activation over a very short period of time well before muscle hypertrophy (growth) gains are noted.
Q: “I have read that vibration platforms can be useful in reversing osteoporosis. Can this type of exercise modality help reverse my low bone density readings?”
A: There are a number of studies now available which have explored this question, especially in light of an increasing number of osteoporosis and osteopaenia sufferers. The evidence appears to support the hypothesis that bone density can be improved by repetitive loading as provided by a vibration platform. This can provide a safe and effective way of reversing demineralisation of bones without exposing patients to prolonged bouts of exercise which in many cases is well outside their current physical capabilities. Exercise bouts can start at 5-10 minute periods initially and can progress to longer duration or incorporate other resistance work as bone density and cardio fitness develops.
Q: “I don’t feel capable of undertaking any strenuous type of exercise. Can I still benefit from a vibration platform?”
A: Yes, absolutely. Simply standing on a vibration platform can activate core musculature and help reverse low bone density readings. As fitness progresses, clients can start to perform simple body squat activities and can later progress to single leg squats. Clients can also sit on the platform if standing is an issue. Conditioned athletes of course, can perform complex activities such as push-ups with either feet or hands on the platform.
Q: “I have heard that vibration platforms can help lose weight. Is that true?”
A: No. There is no evidence to support weight loss claims simply by using a vibration platform. If weight loss claims are being made, it may well be associated to a general increase in overall activity but not specifically attributable to vibration platforms.