Vibration is back. Local gyms and even our hospitals are adopting vibration machines that promise to shake people into their buff selves. But what’s behind the claims of vibration-fitness machines, like Power Plate? A Newsday reporter investigated:
Unlike those old-fashioned machines, the new technology relies on more aggressive vibration to stimulate muscles. One of the most popular, The Power Plate, features a vibrating platform that oscillates 30 to 50 times per second. Each time, it stimulates the nervous system and creates a reflex in the body that causes the muscles to contract.
The science seems strong, but some of those quoted are furious their research has been misapplied:
Hopson also says studies have shown that vibration can increase blood flow to muscle, tendon and ligament tissues, and stimulate the release of hormones that are needed for healing damaged tissues.
Research questioned Westrich says it’s not the quantity, but the quality of the research that concerns him.
‘If you go to their Web site and look at all their studies, there is not very good science behind it. I found only a few randomized prospective studies. There is some basic science studies about vibration … but a lot of it has nothing to do with their particular device,’ Westrich said.
For example, many of the studies on osteoporosis, which are cited in Power Plate’s information packet, were conducted by Clinton T. Rubin, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University. He is furious that his studies are being used by the company because, he says, ‘I’ve never studied the Power Plate at all, and the vibration magnitude we used was 50 times lower than what they are using.’
Alas, the promise of easy, jiggly workouts will trump the proper use of science, anytime. Expect more Power Plates to appear at a gym near you — at least, until people start getting injured.
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