Wiggling works as warmup
Some good vibrations are being put to the test by Massey University exercise researchers hoping to learn what jiggling does for the strength of ordinary people - and potentially astronauts.
Vibration training, which uses the physics of acceleration rather than lifting weight to stimulate muscle development, is being put to the test by researchers in Palmerston North.
Sports and Exercise lecturer Dr Darryl Cochrane wants to know if standing on a vibration plate "contracts or just wobbles" muscles. He has been measuring the effectiveness of vibration training for sports people, which involves people standing on a wobbling plate to stimulate muscle and bone development.
Dr Cochrane believes vibration training may also hold benefits for the elderly, as well as for people who suffer from muscle wasting diseases, and even for astronauts.
Vibration training may be effective for people who are otherwise bed-ridden or confined to limited spaces - such as astronauts - because it is a low metabolic form of exercise that requires little oxygen use and no cardio workout.
Top level sports people overseas had already cottoned on - vibration training was already being used as a warm-up tool by players waiting on the bench. Used in place of stationary cycling, players were able to warm up their muscles using as little energy as possible before a game, Dr Cochrane said. "That's good vibrations," he quipped. "I wouldn't say this is a miracle tool but it could be used well in conjunction with other equipment."
Dr Cochrane has been measuring what effect vibration training has for high performance athletes as a warm-up tool, and a way to achieve muscle strength to increase power. He found hockey players' "explosive power" improved after vibration training and their standing jump height increased by up to 3 centimetres - an 8 per cent increase. "That's huge when you're talking about high performance support."
Vibration training was most popularly plugged as a weight-loss tool, which was a dubious claim, Dr Cochrane said. It would take about an hour of jiggling on the plate with the vibration intensity turned up to the top speed to burn off just 11 grams of fat.