What is whole body vibration (WBV) training?

An increasingly popular form of exercise, whole body vibration (WBV) training was first developed over 40 years ago by Russian scientists for use in their space program as a way of limiting the muscle and bone mineral loss that occurs from being in a zero-gravity environment.The concept behind whole body vibration training is based on the thought that it stimulates our muscles natural stretch reflex causing muscle contractions in much the same way that a doctor tapping below a patients knee with a reflex hammer causes a knee-jerk response.This stretch reflex is controlled by stretch receptors located in our muscles called muscle spindles. Muscle spindles can be activated when a muscle is quickly stretched or overstretched causing a reflex contraction of the muscle. With whole body vibration, this reflex action is continually stimulated, so a muscle continues to contract and relax until the vibration stops.

Eric Beard
Sports Medicine

Training on a vibration platforms, or often called Whole Body Vibration Training, has become more popular in fitness and rehabilitation environments over the last couple of years.WBV training is performed on platforms that vibrate rapidly and cause muscles to contract and relax quickly. It is said to have origins in ancient Greece but caught the scientific community’s eye when used by Soviet cosmonaut’s to maintain muscle mass and bone density during extended missions in space. Makers of vibration training platforms tout WBV as a virtual panacea providing aesthetic, athletic performance and rehabilitative benefits. There have been research studies on many of these areas and I do not have the time to summarize their findings now. I can speak from personal experience that I can loosen up tight muscles, activate and strengthen weaker muscles, improve coordination and compliment each and every part of my workout program using WBV.

WBV is usually performed on platforms that average the following dimensions 34” long x 42” wide x 61” high. Lower body or total body exercises like squats or squat to biceps curl are most popular however core and upper body exercises like push-ups can be done on the platforms as well.  People with a wide array of health goals choose to incorporate WBV into their programs. WBV combined with the right nutrition and exercise program can help people to; lose weight, tone up, loosen up tight muscles and become stronger and more powerful.

Knowing what to do with one of these training devices can accelerate your results and provide a comfortable workout. It is not something I would recommend jumping on if you are unsure how to use this marvel of modern technology. It would be well worth the investment of hiring a qualified individual for 30-60 minutes to learn how to integrate WBV into your fitness routine.  

Whole body vibration (WBV) has become a tool that coaches and trainers have implemented into their programs as an effective and efficient means of getting athletes/clients faster results. WBV is done on a training platform that applies a rhythmical oscillation to the end user. Typically platforms have variable hertz cycles (ave. 30-60hz). WBV platforms take advantage of the power of gravity, the platform is moving away and back through your body anywhere from 30-60 times per second. This reaction causes your myofascial tissue to lengthen, which "turns on" the proprioceptors of the tissue causing a reflex contraction of the tissue. 
As with any tool, it is important to understand the why and when you should implement it into your training program. If implemented appropriately the end user has a very efficient tool that can aid in the pursuit of various functional goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.