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Whole Body Vibration in Professional Athletes: What Studies Say

03rd September 2016

The science-backed benefits of whole body vibration can’t be denied. This form of training has been proven to exert beneficial effects in people of all ages and fitness levels, contributing to stronger muscles and bones in seniors and active adults and helping people with various conditions improve their balance and flexibility.

Vibration training is known to help in improving circulation and in reducing the accumulation of excess water in the body, by improving lymphatic drainage. It’s a safe form of exercise and reduces the risk of fractures by strengthening the bones and improving coordination and posture.

By regularly exercising on a vibration platform, one can accelerate the weight loss process and build a slimmer body, as this form of exercise supports fat loss and prevents the accumulation of fat around the waist. It’s also proven to help in improving body composition by reducing the overall body fat percentage.

All these positive effects are surely impressive, but one may say that vibration training is only efficient in people who aren’t active at all or have weak muscles and bones, poor circulation, and other health issues that affect their strength and overall performance. This is not true, and in today’s article, we’ll take a look at the effects of whole body vibration in professional athletes to show you that even individuals who are already-fit, strong and healthy can benefit from WBV.

What research says about vibration training in trained adults and athletes

Let’s begin with a study conducted by German researchers, which was published in PLoS ONE, and showed that exercising on a vibration machine can provide additional benefits compared to regular training programs in young, well-trained adults. The study investigated the effects of whole body vibration on balance and muscle endurance of the lower leg.

38 young adults were involved in this study, part of them being assigned to a vibration group while the others were assigned to a control group. The first group performed two sets of whole body vibration exercises, each lasting for 3 minutes in the first week of training, 5 minutes the following week, and 8 minutes in the last two weeks of the study. The second set lasted until exhaustion, but none of the participants performed WBV exercises for more than 20 minutes.

Also, the two sets were separated by a 3-minute break, so all participants had the chance to recover for a few moments before starting a new vibration session. For this study, the frequency was 25Hz, and the amplitude used was 4 mm. All adults working on a pivotal whole body vibration machine.

So vibration exercises are useful for trained people, but what about athletes? A study published in the American Journal of physical medicine and rehabilitation investigated the effects of WBV on flexibility and muscle performance in female athletes. This experiment lasted for eight weeks and involved 26 athletes aged 21 to 27 years, who were randomly assigned to either a vibration or a control group.

The former group performed three sessions of vibration exercises per week, doing the basic stance, so the routine was not that intense or demanding. Three performance tests were done to measure the participants’ power and flexibility initially and after eight weeks of vibration training.

Results showed that the female athletes in the whole body vibration group experienced significant improvements in flexibility, jump, and muscle strength, but no significant changes were found in the control group.

The scientists concluded that with the proper vibration parameters (amplitude, frequency, and G-force), WBV could be useful in professional athletes not only for improving their flexibility and muscle performance but also for preventing muscle-tendon injuries.

Previous studies have showed that vibration training can maximize muscle stimulation while minimizing fatigue. WBV administered in 5 1-minute bouts, followed by 5 minutes of rest and then another vibration session, at 11G’s of G-force, was found to increase muscle power by 20%, decrease cortisol levels by 32%, and to increase growth hormone levels by an incredible 360%!

Another interesting study compared the effects of acute whole body vibration on amateur and professional football players, showing that WBV is more effective in eliciting a positive neuromuscular response and improving the knee isometric peak force in professional athletes. The benefits of vibration exercises in the professional players were not found in the amateur ones in this particular study. Interestingly, professional football players reported significantly stronger positive beliefs in the effectiveness of vibration training than amateur players.

In 2010, a study (Cochrane) performed on 12 athletes who did WBV squats showed that vibration exercises could increase muscle twitch peak force immediately after the workout, and Rhea (2010) found that acute vibrations can improve power in young college athletes. Colson (2010) found WBV to increase the squat jump height and maximal voluntary isometric strength of the knee extensors in professional basketball players, while Fort (2012) found that whole body vibration can improve postural stability and explosive strength elite adolescent female basketball players.

To learn more about the benefits of whole body vibration and how it works, check out the complete WBV series or take a look at the video below, to understand how WBV works. If you have questions or comments, post them below in the dedicated section, or join our Facebook community and share your thoughts with us there!

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