The web is full of stories of how the Russian cosmonaut program is the starting point of whole body vibration. In fact early Greeks were the first to use a simplified form of vibration training to heal wounds incurred in battle. With a vibration stimulation applied to new piercing types of injuries, they found ‘patients’ (warriors) were quicker to recover and could go back into battle sooner than their counterparts. What they did not understand is how it worked. In reality, the vibration applied to the injury promoted better blood circulation to the injured area, and the body’s own repair systems were doing the repair work, the vibration just sped things up. The same holds true today as the machine does not actually do anything specific on its own. The machine helps your body improve itself in many ways including increasing blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is a complex system of ducts and conduits that take away toxins from muscles and at the same time bring new germ fighting materials to the muscles. Unlike the blood system which has a pump (the heart), the lymph system does not have a pumping system, it relies solely on muscular contractions and releases to move the fluids. The best website I have found to explain the lymphatic system is http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-lymphatic-drainage.htm
The whole body vibration machine stimulates the muscle system to increase this lymphatic drainage. Have you ever noticed that fit people seem to get fewer colds than sedentary people do? It’s because the fit active person has better immunity because of better lymphatic drainage arising from continual muscle actions. Bed ridden people with very little muscle action are prone to catching all types of bugs because their immune system is held back by way of poor lymphatic drainage.
Many whole body vibration machine websites refer to NASA and the space agencies use of the machines. In space there is obviously no gravity and without the constant gravitational force that our bodies are used to, the muscle system does not get a good workout from simple things like walking. Your body needs a heavy load for the muscles to achieve any sort of real workout. Gravity provides that heavy load. In space with no heavy load (gravity) the body’s muscles become atrophied, meaning the muscles are weakening and actually losing muscle mass, because they are not worked enough. The other bad condition from this muscle atrophy is bone loss, similar to osteoporosis. Whole body vibration machines “add” gravitational force to the body and any exercise that the body is doing, from simply standing on the platform, to more advanced moves on the platform. This extra ‘G’ force is what makes the bones in the body get better and stronger. The bones in your body increase their density because they need to increase as a result of added muscle work. If you use your muscles under a heavier load your bones become more dense and solid on their own. The best method to increase bone density is through muscular stimulation. Consuming extra calcium does not actually increase bone density as the calcium is not turned into bone material unless the bone needs the extra densification based on the amount and intensity of muscle usage. There is however a need to have calcium available for the bones to turn into bone material. So in short, the whole body vibration machines will stimulate the muscles as if they were under heavy load and this in turn will promote the bones to increase their natural strength and density by using whatever calcium the body can find. There are numerous studies out there that show the marked improvements in bone density from stimulation by way of whole body vibration machines.
Professional sports teams worldwide have embraced the whole body vibration machines as an effective tool in helping them win games. They can win games if their athletes are in top shape. If an athlete is injured or not performing at their best, the team suffers. When you are paying millions of dollars to a professional athlete you want the most out of that individual. Whole body vibration machines can bring out the best in an athlete. Aside from the lymphatic drainage improvements which keep athletes from getting colds, and the improved muscular and skeletal systems they achieve, the whole body vibration machines also help the player in a couple of other ways. Athletes use the machines before each game to improve flexibility through stretching exercises. Whole body vibration machines used for 2-3 minutes pre-game will stretch and warm up muscles, thereby avoiding injuries. Many top athletes also use the machines after a grueling event as the whole body vibration machines dissipate lactic acid. Lactic acid is produced by the body when muscles are used heavily this acid gets trapped in the muscle fibers and is what causes the pain and ache in muscles the day following a vigorous workout. The whole body vibration machines are used by athletes before and after games so they are not sore and can then train much harder and more often then they would normally.
One of the most dramatic effects of these whole body vibration machines is their ability to be used for weight loss. To lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume, it’s that simple. If you consume the average American diet of 4000 – 5000 calories a day and you only burn 3000 of those calories, you will gain weight. You could eat less and maintain the same caloric burn every day to lose weight. The other option is to burn more calories and eat the same. For many of us it is difficult to change or modify the intake side of this equation. It is more feasible to actually eat the same and burn more calories. This idea works in principal, but usually not in practice. Let me explain why. If you go to the gym and work out very hard every day, you will burn a great number of calories. However, every calorie you burn is by way of exercising the large muscle groups, such as the arm and leg muscles. These muscle groups use sugar as an energy source. So when you work out you are using up your bodies available sugar deposits. After your workout your body is craving that sugar back into the body and you will feel hungry and eat to satisfy that desire, usually overeating more than your body wanted in the first place. Guess what…your workout caused you to gain weight, so you go back to the gym and repeat the same thing over and over. Sound familiar? This vicious cycle occurs to most of us. In your body you have two types of muscle groups, the large muscles, which we use every day and we use in most traditional exercise programs. The other muscle groups are known as the fast twitch muscle groups. These specific muscles are quite different than the other group in a few ways. Fast twitch muscles have a very short range of motion, and they have very fast response times, usually almost reflex muscle contractions, before your mind even thinks about what muscle to fire and how hard. The fast twitch muscle groups are the ones that are used when you are walking on slippery surfaces such as ice and if you are about to slip they fire almost instantly before you even realize that you were about to fall or trip. They will help you keep your balance and react to oncoming forces such as wind and unstable platforms. They really are a very cool and extremely useful muscle group. We actually have a lot of them, but do not use them very often. One of the most interesting things about these muscle groups is the fact that they do not use sugar as an energy source, they actually use fat deposits for energy. Now think about that gym scenario again, if you were working out and using the fast twitch muscle groups predominantly, your body would still be burning calories, but afterwards your body does not feel hungry, it is not craving a replacement of sugar that was expended. Now your workouts are burning up fat deposits for calories and you are not eating more. You have now hit that point where you are burning more calories than you are consuming, you are losing weight. So you are probably wondering how you can perform a workout at the gym that uses the fast twitch reflex muscles instead of the usual large muscle groups. The answer is you cannot. The exercise machines and programs you are accustomed to all focus on using the major large muscle groups. This is where the whole body vibration machines really differ from all other exercises, they focus almost all energy used through the use of the fast twitch reflex muscles. Their gentle and short movements are designed for response by the fast twitch muscles. When you use the machines you do not have to think about the workout, your muscles are moving in reflex response in opposing directions to the movements created by the moving platform. What seems at first to be a very easy workout is in fact extremely hard for the body as your body will work out very hard to keep your balance, it will burn a great deal of calories and at the same time it is burning up fat deposits and not making you hungry. This is the key fundamental aspect to the whole body vibration machines that make them so efficient for people looking to lose weight or shed inches off the waistline.
When you realize the effectiveness of whole body vibration machines, you will also believe that everyone should use them everyday. I believe that in the very near future whole body vibration machines will become as commonplace as the ubiquitous treadmill.
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