Whole body vibration training has been shown to increase muscle activity and therefore performance in participants. For those of you who are unfamiliar with whole body vibration training, here is a little background. Whole body vibration training requires participants to stand on a power plate that oscillates up and down and left and right. This creates vibrations that are transmitted up through the legs. The participant can do a variety of moves on the power plate such as squats, lunges, pushups, and glute bridges. Unfortunately in this day and age where we are sitting most of the time our hamstrings become short, our glutes become inhibited (meaning they do not work when they are supposed to) and our lower backs take on a lot of stress. Over time this decreased muscle activation leads to a variety of problems. For example, if your glute muscles are not working then you leave yourself susceptible for low back pain, knee pain and further muscle imbalance.
As a trainer I have to instruct people how to do exercises to activate the inhibited muscles. I’ve had people complain of knee pain when squatting only to have it disappear after some glute activation drills. Vibration training is an excellent method to help you turn on your shut off muscles and in turn prevent pain when moving. Our stabilizer muscles are the ones that are often inhibited. When these muscles are inhibited we are more likely to have postural deficiencies and the pain that comes along with it. So how does whole body vibration training help activate inhibited muscles? Basically the muscles in your body must fire more efficiently to decrease the effects of the vibrations.
When speaking from a performance standpoint muscle activation is crucial. Whole body vibration training may elicit a phenomenon called post activation potentiation. When we do heavy loaded exercises we see increases in nervous system and muscle activation and subsequent increases in power. For example if I was to do a heavy squat and then immediately test my vertical jump I would see my vertical jump increase. This is what post activation potentiation is. Vibration training causes muscle activation to a greater degree than other forms of exercise and can help those muscles produce more power through post activation potentiation.