To Your Health
January, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 01)
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Good Vibrations: Fitness for the New Year

By Jasper Sidhu, BSc, DC

A new year brings new opportunities to improve your health and achieve the level of fitness you truly desire. What is your fitness goal? If you're like many, you want to get in shape fast without getting injured or burned out in the process. Here's a peek at one of the best ways to get fit and stay fit in 2009 and beyond.

A great deal of research suggests strength training is essential to prevent aging, increase function and decrease pain if you're suffering from illness. However, when it comes to doing it, a lack of commitment can be about more than the typical "I don't have time." For some of us, it may be that exercise itself causes pain, so we tend to avoid it. In other cases, we aren't able to participate in strength training due to physical limitations and disabilities. If any of these reasons applies to you, there may still be hope when it comes to staying in shape: vibration training.

Vibration exercise platforms are steadily increasing in popularity. The platforms promise to give you the same results in 15 minutes as would take one hour to achieve at the gym; sometimes without even changing into workout clothes. Does this sound too good to be true? Let's take a closer look at vibration training, including how it works, what kind of benefits it can provide and what to look for if you decide to try.

Vibration exercise may be something new to people here in North America, but it's been validated through 40 years of research in Russia and was originally used by the Russian space program and Olympic athletes. However, after the fall of Communism, the technology made its way to Europe, and then to North America. It's been shown to produce so many positive results that it's now being used by hospitals, rehabilitation centers and professional sports teams. It's also being integrated into chiropractic practices because chiropractic doctors understand the benefits vibration exercise provides for their patients.

At the Schisler Spine Centre in Windsor, Ontario, Dr. Craig Schisler has integrated vibration exercise into his spinal practice. "Most of my patients are unable to engage in conventional exercises, and I feel there needs to be a faster progression into an active program," says Dr. Schisler. "Vibration exercise not only achieves that, but the compliance rate (also) is quite high."

How Vibration Training Works

 - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Vibration training is an exercise option that caters to people who can't otherwise do conventional exercise due to pain or disability. Vibration exercise platforms work by simulating the body's natural stretch reflex, which creates an involuntary muscle contraction. In plain English, let's talk about what happens to your knee when your doctor taps it with a reflex hammer. The knee kicks out and will continue doing so every time the doctor taps it. This is something you can't control. Basically, the muscle is involuntarily contracting to the quick stretch brought on by the tap.

Now imagine yourself standing on a vibration platform in a comfortable, pain-free position. The platform will drop approximately 2-4 millimeters and can do that 20 to 50 times per second. In essence, instead of you moving up and down, the platform moves up and down. Every time it does that, it produces similar effects to getting your knee tapped by a reflex hammer. For example, in one minute, your thigh muscles can contract, involuntarily, up to 3,000 times!

Let Vibration Do the Work

Although getting a large amount of muscle contractions is important because it shortens the time it takes you to exercise, the real benefit is that you can actually make your workouts more intense and productive, not by going into painful range of motions, but by increasing the "intensity" of the vibration. If 35 muscle contractions per second is getting easy, increase it to 40 times per second. You can do this without putting additional undue stress on your joints. That's why vibration exercise is being used by everyone from professional athletes to the elderly, and it's why more and more health professionals are taking a serious look at providing this option to their patients. Not only are they getting results, but the research also seems to be supporting it.