We’ve all seen them in the corner, hidden away. Most people walk past them not knowing how to use them. But, every facility has them, so they must be doing something.
Vibration training has been around for a long time, but only over the past 3-4 years has it really taken off. Vibration training works by triggering your body’s natural myotatic reflex to create an involuntary muscular contraction. The amplitude setting on vibration plates dictates how far the plate will travel (distance) vertically, and the hertz setting dictates how many times per second (repetitions) the plate will move per second.
As the plate moves down the sarcomere lengthens extremely quickly (all be it not very far), causing the stretch reflex to fire across the sarcomere, and therefore rapidly shortening. This is repeated many times per second (dependant on the Hertz setting) resulting in recruitment of lots of motor units. When viewed under a strobe light (this visually slows down the contraction) it is possible to see the muscles recruited in a wave formation that moves up and down the muscle being trained.
Ok that’s the science bit, now how can it be used.
Well by holding a static contraction and slow dynamic movements on the plate your actually recruiting lots of motor units, so in effect warming them up and ‘pre-activating’ them. This means when you go onto your main workout, the muscle is ready to go, lots of the motor units are fired up and you haven’t fatigued the muscle during the warm up. In reality this means you will potentially be able to work harder from the start and increase the effectiveness of the workout. When performing this type of activity keep the Hertz setting fairly low, 25-35 Htz is sufficient.
Any other benefits?
Well when you set the hertz higher, 40-45, this increases the Myotatic reflex action, and as such, begins to trigger the Golgi Tendon Organ to fire the Autogenic Inhibititry response causing the muscle to relax. This facilitates improvements in flexibility, similar to PNF stretching.
If you set the hertz higher to 50-60, this is the optimal setting for massage benefits. Ensure a foam mat is placed on the plate at all times when putting body parts onto the plate that are not covered. A partner placing pressure on the limb that is being massaged can increase the benefits.
By integrating Vibration Training into your training routine, you can potentially improve the effectiveness of your whole training session. Next time you walk past one, don’t just ignore it as the latest fitness fad, it may compliment you training routine.