Learn the Science:
Flexibility, Mobility and Whole Body Vibration
Whole body vibration provides significant benefits to flexibility and mobility. This article explains those terms, shares common causes and treatments. Finally, it explains how whole body vibration can accelerate those gains, including research reference links.
A Physical Therapist and Chiropractor explain flexibility, mobility, and whole body vibration exercises. A vibration plate enhances workouts and accelerates fitness.
Flexibility is the quality that allows our muscles and joints to stretch and move within their full range of motion. It’s a foundational aspect of physical health that has broad implications for our daily lives and overall well-being. Mobility is a closely related concept that physical therapists and chiropractors focus on because it includes the full ability to move. This requires a combination of muscle strength and flexibility.
Mobility also depends on the structure of the bones, cartilage, and ligaments within the joint. The more these components are in harmony, the greater the mobility. Conversely, damage or changes to these structures can limit mobility, making movements stiff or painful.
Common Causes of Decreased Flexibility
Decreased muscle and joint flexibility involves a combination of age, lifestyle, health, environment, and genetics. Improving flexibility can include stretching routines, dietary adjustments, and adjustments to ergonomics like seating positions.
Here are some of the most common factors that reduce flexibility and mobility:
- Muscle Fiber Changes: As individuals age, muscle fibers can become shorter and lose elasticity. This reduction in length and pliability can lead to reduced flexibility, impacting daily movements and comfort.
- Joint Wear and Tear: Aging may cause the cartilage within joints to become more brittle and less lubricated. This wear and tear can hinder smooth movement, making joints feel stiff and limiting flexibility.
Lack of Physical Activity
- Shortened Muscle Tissue: Sedentary lifestyles can lead to the shortening and tightening of muscles. Without regular stretching and movement, muscles lose their ability to extend fully, leading to a decrease in overall flexibility.
- Reduced Blood Flow: Less physical activity means less blood circulation. Poor blood flow can lead to stiffer muscle tissues, hampering flexibility and creating discomfort during movement.
Injury and Trauma
- Scar Tissue Formation: Injuries can result in scar tissue, which is less elastic than normal tissue. This scar tissue can inhibit movement in the affected area, leading to long-term flexibility issues.
- Protective Muscle Tightening: Following an injury, muscles around the affected area may tighten to protect the injury site. This protective response can reduce flexibility and impede healing.
Chronic Medical Conditions
- Arthritis: Inflammatory joint conditions like arthritis can reduce joint flexibility by causing pain and swelling. Over time, arthritis can permanently alter joint structure, further limiting movement.
- Muscular Diseases: Certain muscular diseases can cause rigidity and tightness in muscles. These chronic conditions may lead to progressive stiffness, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life.
Poor Posture and Ergonomics
- Imbalanced Muscles: Poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances, with some muscles becoming overly tight while others become weak. This imbalance affects body alignment and can decrease flexibility over time.
- Ergonomic Factors: Incorrect ergonomics in the workplace or during exercises can lead to decreased flexibility. Prolonged strain can create chronic tightness in muscles, impacting comfort and mobility.
Inadequate Nutrition and Hydration
- Dehydration: Lack of water can make muscles stiffer. Proper hydration is essential for muscle function, and dehydration can quickly impact flexibility.
- Nutrient Deficiency: Certain nutrient deficiencies, like Vitamin D, can affect bone and joint health. These deficiencies can influence flexibility by weakening the overall musculoskeletal system.
Temperature and Environmental Factors
- Cold Weather: Muscles are generally stiffer in cold temperatures. Cold muscles are less pliable and more prone to strains, affecting flexibility and overall mobility.
- Lack of Warm-up: Not warming up properly before exercise can hinder flexibility. A proper warm-up increases blood flow and prepares muscles for activity, reducing the risk of injury.
- Natural Muscle Composition: Genetic makeup influences the natural flexibility of muscles and joints. Some people naturally have more elastic muscles, while others may be predisposed to stiffness. These genetic traits can impact an individual’s flexibility throughout life.
Common Treatments for Low Flexibility:
Improving flexibility can involve both natural exercises and medical interventions. Simple practices like stretching and hydration are ideal, and most often can help people avoid more invasive medical treatments or surgery.
Natural Treatments for Flexibility
- Dynamic Stretching: This involves moving as you stretch, increasing blood flow and flexibility. It’s often used in warm-ups before exercise.
- Static Stretching: By holding a stretch for a period, muscles are gently lengthened. This is common in cool-down routines.
- Yoga and Pilates: Both these practices emphasize flexibility through specific poses and exercises. They also promote mindfulness and overall well-being.
Hydration and Balanced Diet
- Water: Drinking enough water helps to keep muscles supple and prevents stiffness. It’s a foundational aspect of overall health.
- Nutrient-Rich Foods: Foods rich in vitamins and minerals support muscle and joint health. A balanced diet enhances flexibility and overall wellness.
- Warm Baths or Heating Pads: Applying warmth can loosen muscles, easing stiffness. This therapy is often used in conjunction with stretching.
Medical Treatments for Flexibility
- Tailored Exercises: Therapists design exercises to target specific areas of inflexibility. The guidance of a professional ensures safe and effective improvement.
- Manual Manipulation: Therapists use hands-on techniques to manipulate joints and muscles, enhancing flexibility. This often provides immediate relief.
- Deep Tissue Massage: This method works on deeper layers of muscle to release chronic tension. Regular sessions can lead to lasting improvements.
- Myofascial Release: Targeting connective tissues, this method helps release tightness. It’s specialized for addressing underlying structural issues.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications: These can reduce inflammation causing stiffness. Chronic issues may require prescription strength.
- Muscle Relaxants: By easing muscle spasms or tension, these medications aid flexibility for specific persistant conditions.
Joint Replacement or Repair: For severe joint problems, doctors may recommend surgery to restore flexibility and function. Often these surgeries are arthroscopic procedures that are Minimally invasive.
5 Minute Guided Flexibility Workout
Don uses Lifetimevibe vibration plate for back pain, and mobility improvements
Whole Body Vibration and Flexibility
Whole Body Vibration involves standing, sitting, or exercising on vibrating platforms or vibration plate machines. These platforms produce high-frequency vibrations that travel through the body, causing muscles to contract and relax repeatedly. This unique engagement with muscles can improve muscle flexibility and coordination. Extensive research shows a variety of benefits.
How WBV Helps Enhance Flexibility and Mobility:
1. Rapid Muscle Engagement
- High Frequency: The vibrations are high frequency, causing muscles to contract and relax multiple times per second. This warms up the muscles, making them more receptive to stretching.
- Sit and Reach Benefits: Traditional exercises like the sit-and-reach can be performed on a WBV platform, enhancing the stretch.
2. Integration with a Healthy Lifestyle
- Healthy Diet: Coupled with a healthy diet, WBV can be part of a holistic approach to wellness, aiding weight loss and improving overall health.
- Weight Loss and Blood Flow: Whole body vibration can aid in weight loss by boosting metabolism and burning calories. Along with aiding weight loss, WBV also promotes blood flow, ensuring that muscles receive the nutrients needed for flexibility and recovery. Reducing weight provides many benefits for flexibility and mobility.
- Muscle Strength and Jump Height: WBV exercise has been linked to increases in muscle strength and jump height. WBV vibration training increases vertical jump and flexibility performance in elite athletes as well as everyday people.
- Bone Mineral Density: Regular use of WBV platforms can lead to improvements in bone mineral density, benefiting individuals at risk for osteoporosis.
Extra Vibration Plate Benefits
The benefits of WBV extend beyond flexibility:
- Accessibility and Versatility: A good quality WBV platform is adjustable and adaptable, making it suitable for everyone from fitness enthusiasts to rehabilitation patients.
- Complementary to Traditional Methods: Whether you’re looking to improve muscle tone or lose weight, WBV can be a valuable addition to a traditional fitness routine. The effects of whole body training can enhance any other exercise or stretching routines. Body vibration training increases the impact and results of any exercise session.
Whole body vibration is a scientifically-supported method for enhancing flexibility. Improving flexibility can include stretching routines, dietary adjustments, and adjustments to ergonomics like seating positions. Doing these activities with a whole body vibration machine can significantly accelerate the gains from stretching alone.
It also offers significant improvements in muscle strength and overall wellness. Additional benefits can include improving jump height to aiding weight loss and enhancing blood flow. Paired with a healthy diet and consistent exercise, WBV can be a game-changer to a healthier, more flexibly body.
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Feland JB, Stevenson DL, Hunter I, Hopkins JT, Cochrane DJ. Acute effect of whole-body vibration on electromechanical delay and vertical jump performance. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2021 Sep 1;21(3):373-378. PMID: 34465676; PMCID: PMC8426659.
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Đorđević D, Paunović M, Čular D, Vlahović T, Franić M, Sajković D, Petrović T, Sporiš G. Whole-Body Vibration Effects on Flexibility in Artistic Gymnastics-A Systematic Review. Medicina (Kaunas). 2022 Apr 26;58(5):595. doi: 10.3390/medicina58050595. PMID: 35630012; PMCID: PMC9143419.
Houston MN, Hodson VE, Adams KK, Hoch JM. The effectiveness of whole-body-vibration training in improving hamstring flexibility in physically active adults. J Sport Rehabil. 2015 Feb;24(1):77-82. doi: 10.1123/JSR.2013-0059. PMID: 25606860.
Di Giminiani R, Manno R, Scrimaglio R, Sementilli G, Tihanyi J. Effects of individualized whole-body vibration on muscle flexibility and mechanical power. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Jun;50(2):139-51. PMID: 20585287.
Bautmans, I., Van Hees, E., Lemper, JC. et al. The feasibility of whole body vibration in institutionalised elderly persons and its influence on muscle performance, balance and mobility: a randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN62535013]. BMC Geriatr 5, 17 (2005). –
“Overall we can conclude that 6 weeks static Whole Body Vibration exercises are feasible in elderly nursing home residents with limited functional dependency, and . . . beneficial for balance and mobility.”