The problem with vibration plates is that they may sound like a fad at first. Sure enough, they’ve soared in popularity in the last few decades and have become the subject of many studies and research papers.
Still, many people have their doubts about this fitness equipment and whether it’s as safe and effective as acclaimed or if it’s just another scam in the world of fitness.
Here, we break down the advantages of incorporating a whole-body vibration exercise into your lifestyle. We promise you’ll be able to make up your mind by the end of this article, so stick around!
What Is a Whole-Body Vibration Plate?
You’ve probably come across a vibrating plate in a local gym or even an advertisement. Just like its name indicates, it’s a horizontal platform that induces vibrations when plugged in.
You can sit, stand, do squats or perform some push-ups on a vibrating plate. When you do so, your muscles contract and relax several times a second under the influence of the vibrations.
This muscle contraction happens involuntarily and rapidly – just as how the knee jerks when a doctor taps on the tendon below it. In fact, that’s a natural reaction from our brain. When faced with an outside stimulus, our brain forces the muscles to contract and shrink away from the subject to avoid injury.
The thing about whole-body vibration training is that it’s not as exhausting as walking, running, or cycling. Yet, it helps your body metabolize fat faster, turning it into a burning furnace for calories. It also has other health benefits, which makes it a popular choice among athletes and celebrities.
Did you know that vibration therapy was first discovered in ancient Greece? Back then, doctors used to help injured warriors recover fast by subjecting them to primitive versions of body vibration. These included riding fast-running horses or carriages with irregular wheels to create an effect that’s similar to modern-day vibration plates.
Vibration Plate Benefits
Although vibrating plates’ popularity mostly stems from the fact that they can work out your whole body without you breaking a sweat, they have other general and health benefits, which we’ll go through right away.
1. Faster Workouts
One of the reasons why we all don’t go to the gym consistently or keep skipping workouts is because an hour in the gym seems like too much. A vibrating machine solves this problem.
Experts say that 15 minutes of vibration plate exercises are equal to an hour-long of regular exercise and muscle strength training. That’s because vibrating plates work on contracting and relaxing large muscle groups at high speed, making your body exert more energy in a very short time.
The actual weight loss and muscle building don’t happen during the exercise but rather during the repair time when your metabolism increases, so you don’t need to spend long periods on vibration plates to reach your “lean body” goals.
2. Low-Impact Whole-Body Exercise
Like walking and elliptical cardio, vibration plates provide low-impact exercises suitable for all age groups and activity levels.
They’re especially recommended for seniors and people with joint pain as they help build muscle strength and aid weight loss without putting much impact on the hips, knees, and ankles.
They also help lower blood pressure, which is a great benefit for seniors where elevated blood pressure is common.
One more perk for vibration plates is that they’re far from boring. You don’t have to keep to one position when using them. Some people like to use them while doing fitness exercises, like squats, crunches, and planks. Others prefer to just stand on these shaking plates and let them do their magic.
You can also tone them to various frequencies according to your needs. For example, a lower frequency can come in useful to relieve muscle soreness in one area, while a higher one can help you burn fat and lose weight rapidly.
4. Compact Size
If you prefer working out from the comfort of your home over hitting the gym, a vibrating platform would be a suitable choice for you. It’s essentially a whole-body trainer in a compact-sized plate, so you can fit it anywhere in your house even if you don’t have a dedicated gym.
5. Strengthens Muscle Fibers
Strength building works by exhausting your muscles through lifting weights a number of times, causing them to contract. The vibration machine takes the heavy work off your shoulders by accelerating muscle contraction on its own, which reinforces your muscle mass leading to stronger muscles.
For better results, you can combine vibration therapy with a gentle toning exercise like planks, squats, or crunches to target specific muscles. Slowly but surely, you’ll find yourself performing better at weight-bearing exercises like walking and stair-climbing.
6. Suitable for Physical Therapy and Recovery
Vibration therapy isn’t only for bulking up. Research shows that rapid muscle contraction has been proven to aid in muscle atrophy prevention and injury recovery as well.
The thing is, most muscle strains are caused by an injury to a tendon, which is the fibrous tissue connecting muscles to bones. Because these tendons receive less blood flow, their healing process is slower than other body tissues.
Regular vibration therapy speeds up this process by promoting tendon regeneration and healing, so people with such injuries will be able to ease back to their active lifestyles faster.
Another perk of vibration plates is that they reduce lactic acid build-up in muscles, which accelerates muscle recovery after strenuous workouts. So you can just jump on a vibration machine after a laborious exercising session to reduce the burning sensation in your muscles and refresh your body for the next session.
7. Faster Metabolism
Needless to say, vibration therapy can help you lose weight at a higher pace, but its effect is more than just that.
With regular use of vibration plates, increased metabolic rate was observed even in people with a slow metabolism. There are two proven reasons for that. The first is that whole-body vibration stimulates the endocrine system to secrete hormones that regulate your appetite and boost your metabolism.
The second is that it improves the functionality of the liver, causing it to metabolize fat faster instead of storing it.
Paired with a balanced diet, these actions will help you lose weight faster and increase your energy levels throughout the day, even if you have a naturally slower metabolism.
8. Improves Core Balance
A vibration plate can be used to exercise different body parts and among them is the core – the centerpiece of your physique.
You need a sculpted core for a healthy posture and overall improved balance. The vibration plate does that by inducing rapid muscle contraction in this area, which trains your body to have better balance and stability.
9. Increases Bone Density
It’s not only about muscles! It’s been found that vibration plates can help generate new bone cells and increase bone mineral density, especially in the hips.
The evidence for this benefit is quite interesting. Scientists observed that astronauts lose around 1-2% of their bone mass each month during space travel. By applying vibration therapy for a month, they found that the astronauts had regained their lost body mass.
It was suggested then that people at risk of bone loss should exercise on a vibrating plate constantly, especially those who are unable to engage in regular physical activity due to age or physical limitations.
10. Reduces Chronic Pain
Vibration therapy plays a role in managing chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis. That’s because the fast-paced muscle contraction caused by a vibration plate helps in strengthening muscles, which relieves the pain and stiffness caused by such conditions.
It’s a suitable exercise for people with spinal pain and peripheral neuropathy too. For these conditions, stronger nerve fibers are required, and that’s what a vibration plate does. It improves the blood flow to the nerves, reinforcing their overall performance.
11. Improves Blood Circulation
Poor blood circulation can cause fatigue, cramps, as well as pain in the arms and legs. In worse conditions, it can lead to heart disease. That’s why you want to maintain healthy blood circulation.
The frequent contraction induced by a whole-body vibration exercises the blood vessels and capillaries. That improves the blood flow throughout the body, which translates to more oxygen supply to your organs and extremities.
12. Enhances Blood Flow to Skin
Who would have guessed that a vibration plate can help you achieve your “healthy and glowing” skin goals! Well, that’s another advantage of the enhanced blood circulation, which stimulates your body to flush the waste and deliver more nutrients to your skin.
Vibrations also help muscles relax, reducing wrinkles and the chance of acquiring cellulite while losing weight. And best of all, they promote collagen production, which strengthens the skin and enhances its elasticity and hydration.
13. Alleviates Stress
Finally, one of the best vibration plate benefits is that it’s a fantastic stress-reliever.
Of course, that’s to be expected with the improved circulation and metabolism. However, vibration therapy has a direct effect on stress as it reduces the production of the stress hormone (cortisol) and stimulates the release of more serotonin and dopamine from the endocrine gland.
These two hormones play a key role in regulating your sleep, stabilizing your mood, and improving your overall mental health.
How Long Should You Use a Vibration Plate?
The most substantial health benefits occur with at least 15-20 minutes of whole-body vibration, 3-4 times a week. It’s neither recommended to go more or less than that on a vibration plate.
It doesn’t matter whether you use it as a standalone exercise or for recovery after workouts. Just remember that you won’t be able to benefit from it fully unless you incorporate some changes in your lifestyle, which include following a healthy diet, lowering stress, and getting quality sleep.
Also, if you’re new to vibration therapy, make sure to start at a lower frequency to ease your body into the vibrations first. Then, you can try higher settings once you adjust to the feeling.
What Happens if You Use a Vibration Plate Every Day?
To reap the whole-body vibration benefits, you should use vibrating plates consistently and in moderation. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should use them every day. Doing so can cause them to lose their effect as your body gets used to the vibrations and go on a plateau similar to that of following a strict diet for a long time.
Apart from that, daily use poses some health risks. If you don’t take a couple of days off a week, your body won’t get enough time to recover, exposing you to some of the vibrations’ negative effects, including cartilage damage, hearing impairment, and lower back injuries.
To sum everything up, vibration plates have a positive effect on nearly everything in your body, starting from your bones and core muscles and ending with your mood and skin.
Unless you have a physical condition that prevents you from using a vibration plate, you’re safe with it. Just remember to exercise with it moderately and combine it with healthier lifestyle habits.
Emma James, 29 years old professional fitness trainer with Bachelor’s degree in Physical Fitness Technician from Boston University.