Whether you are an avid runner, soccer mom or weekend warrior – everyone is trying their best in today’s fast pace world to maintain optimal health and fitness through breakthrough technology and exercises. Current fads include dry needling, cupping, tabata/HITT workouts and most recently Whole Body Vibration therapy (WBV). Now WBV isn’t exactly new, but is resurfacing as an effective treatment to increase bone density and maintain/restore muscle strength. Vibration therapy has been used for thousands of years and was first well acknowledged in 2002 when NASA implemented vibration therapy to fight muscle atrophy (wasting) and bone density loss with their astronauts on space missions. Recent research has found that WBV is beneficial for seasoned athletes, pulmonary patients (COPD), neurologic diagnosis (CP and Parkinson’s disease), as well as the aging patient.
Treatments usually consist of the patient holding a static position(s) for 3-10 minutes. The main principle behind WBV is that a patient is exposed to 3D vibrations while standing/lying on the vibrating platform. The rapid vibrations force muscles to contract to maintain your position which ultimately provides a form of exercise. The vibrations stimulate muscle spindles and alpha motor neurons causing relaxation/contraction of muscles to enhance neuromuscular learning. Weight bearing along with vibratory perturbations will help to stimulate bone growth to avoid or reduce the effects of osteoporosis and loss of bone density in community dwelling adults. Significant improvements in gait speed and balance were also noted due to WBV mimicking natural perturbations during ambulation.
Benefits of WBV:
- Increased bone density
- Increased muscle and tendon strength
- Improved muscle performance (power and coordination)
- Increased flexibility
- Improved circulation
- Increased body awareness
- Improve walking/functional balance
- Pain reduction
- Decreased inflammation
- Decreased spasticity
- Improved lymphatic drainage
- Acute injuries
- Unhealed/recent fractures
- Recent arthroplasty (joint replacement)
- Kidney/Gall stones
- Pregnant women
WBV is a newly accepted form of treatment, and research has proven that WBV can be beneficial to a variety of diagnoses and populations. If you are interested in learning more about WBV or starting a WBV therapy program, ask your trusted Synergy physical therapist or check out the ‘Synergy Recovery Room’ for more details and other therapy options.
Kayla Roof, SPT
Student Physical Therapist
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South Office
Athletes who undergo rigorous training often cause damage to their muscles and joints in which impacts further training and success. This damage can cause exercise-induced inflammation, repetitive stress and trauma to the muscles. Symptoms include soreness, swelling, and tenderness, in part secondary to local increased lactic acid resulting in decreased range of motion. Therefore, quick recovery is crucial for athletes to regain and strive for optimal performance in their sport. For athletes striving for optimal recovery and performance, mechanical compression has gained popularity, initially in the 2010 Olympics. Several research papers have shown usage of intermittent pneumatic compression may benefit recovery in athletes.
Physiology and Mechanism of Action
Post exercise, the venous return is significantly reduced thus allowing for the build up of carbon dioxide, lactic acid and metabolic waste. The goal of compression is to massage and squeeze your muscles intermittently for a period of time. Research has shown this can decrease swelling and pain, enhance lymphatic return, and increase blood flow. This restore strength and endurance 10 times faster compared to rest alone. Compression is used to help flush out the lactic acid that can of build up after intense training. The use of intermittent pneumatic compression can help promote healing of the tissues by reabsorption of interstitial tissue and reducing metabolic waste. Proper recovery following exercise is important to repair the transitory and long- term impairments created by the stress of training and competition. Following rehydration, correcting the metabolic disturbances and restoring glycogen stores are paramount for recovery of exhaustive exercise. Theoretically, pneumatic compression can reduce the space available for swelling, hemorrhage and hematoma formation as well as providing mechanical support.
There are three primary treatment options available using compression. A typical treatment lasts no longer than 15-20 minutes.
- Pre-workout to benefit in warm up and promote blood flow
- Post-workout used to speed up muscle recovery, decrease muscle fatigue and stiffness
- Post rehab or injury to reduce edema and stiffness
Using this technique can speed recovery and relieve muscle soreness in a shorter period of time. Although research is limited in this field, the preliminary studies indicate this technique may help improve athlete’s ability to restore strength and endurance faster than rest. If you are interested in using lower extremity pneumatic compression pre or post-race, check out our newly opened Synergy Recovery Room. You may also visit our Recovery Room website by clicking on the logo to see other benefits of compression therapy and other services we offer to help take your training to the next level!
-Stephanie Kurica, SPT
Student Physical Therapist
Synergy Manual Physical Therapy – South