Vibration training in medicine is not a new concept and has its origins more than one hundred years ago, where steam-powered vibrating chairs were used in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Almost thirty years ago, a professor Racef conducted the first studies into the effects of vibration training and the results showed that with minimal time and effort, a very positive effect on the strength of core muscles supporting the spine was experienced. This technology was pioneered by the Russian Space Programme in order to prolong cosmonauts’ time in space and they still hold many endurance records.
A company called Bioswing used these findings to develop a physiotherapy tool, the Propriomed which was met with great success. However due to the complexity, size and cost of the tool it remained confined to the rooms of physiotherapists, until the release of the FLEXI-BAR™ in 2001. Developed by sports scientists and physiotherapists who wanted a more affordable, less complex version of the Propriomed, the FLEXI-BAR™ has achieved amazing results in making the benefits of vibration technology available to everywhere to everybody.
Vibration training has a number of complex effects on the human physiology. The cells in the human body, even when at rest, vibrate naturally. These vibrations can increase tenfold with extreme physical activity; the vibrations from the FLEXI-BAR™ pass through the body at a particular frequency in order to elicit a series of unique muscular responses. The contractions effect the muscles by causing them to contract as one, thus working the whole body as a unit and placing high proprioceptive demands on the musculature system. This push pull motion from the vibrations pulls the muscles out of equilibrium in a process known as Tonic Stretch Reflex. During a Tonic Reflex Contraction signals are subconsciously passed continuously from the muscles to the brain and back again through the nervous system. These signals tell the muscles that they are being pushed out of alignment and thus they compensate by continuously contracting in order to return to a state of equilibrium.
With vibration training the body reacts to acceleration rather than weight, which is far greater than standard training stimuli. In addition to developing the superficial surface muscles of the body, the vibrations are particularly useful for engaging the dormant, involuntary core muscles near the spine. The core muscles are notoriously hard to target and strengthen effectively which is one of the reasons so many people suffer from back pain. The vibrations are used to coach functionality inside the body’s neuromuscular programming so as to quickly address any weakness that may be present as well as helping the body to support itself through any action that is performed. Vibration training also stimulates muscular blood flow, which can speed up recovery from workouts and rehabilitation from injury. Increased blood flow will bring restorative nutrients to muscles cells and clear out damaged tissue faster.
Using a hand held vibration training device such as the FLEXI-BAR™ provides the following benefits:
Activation of both voluntary and involuntary muscles Accelerated weight loss Strengthening of bone tissue Increased basal metabolic rate Rapid recovery of muscles, ligaments and tissues from injury Improved coordination, flexibility and mobility Improved blood circulation in skin and muscles Improved lymphatic drainage Pelvic floor rejuvenation Improved training quality and effectiveness Shortened training and recovery times
Currently there are two methods for utilising vibration training:
1. Hand Held Oscillating Device. Benefits of using a handheld vibration training tool are:
- You are the power source and thus control the intensity of the vibration
- Vibrates at lower, more comfortable frequencies that are slow enough to allow reactions from reflexes thus training them
- Being hand held, the device can be used to target specific muscles in the body
- Easy storage and transportation
2. Vibration plates: Powered by electricity, these vibrations pass through the feet into the body usually via a vibrating plate. This idea was pioneered by the Russian Space programme in the form of vibrating dumbbells, used in order to maintain the muscle strength and bone density during long periods in space. There are a number of limitations to vibrating plates:
- Limited number of body parts you can target on the vibration plate
- High frequencies not comfortable for some users
- Can be very expensive to buy a quality machine
- Bulky, heavy and hard to transport