The science of modern vibration therapy dates back decades ago and has since evolved in various forms and has been progressing to become a go-to performance-enhancing modality and injury rehabilitation therapy. Some of the common types are the vibrating platforms that shake the whole body while performing a workout or as it is since it’s a form of training in itself; massage chairs that literally applies manual massage to an aching back while sitting; and the massage guns, which have really gained popularity in the last few years because of its handiness and portability. But what really is the science behind such an impact? We’ll review the most commonly studied effect of vibration therapy and understand the mechanism by which such a form of treatment became so popular and so effective…
Everybody knows the benefits a good blood flow can provide our bodies, and this is by far the most important reason why vibration therapy became so popular. This effect is critical during the healing process of an injury or conditions such as arthritis. The enhanced circulation allows removal of pain substances like lactic acid, decreasing pain and symptoms of fatigue, as well as the movement of excess fluid in cases where there is swelling. In arthritis rehabilitation, the application of mechanical vibration promotes synovial fluid movement to the joint, lubricating the joint surfaces to allow smooth movements of the joints, increasing the range of motion. The increase in blood flow to the area is associated with increased temperature. This helps the scar tissues or adhesion to soften and loosen up and be broken down more easily. This is particularly important in addressing muscular tightness, contractures, and trigger points/muscle knots.
Apart from the increase in peripheral blood flow, vibration therapy inhibits pain perception by blocking pain signals through the gate-control theory, similar to the principle utilized in TENS application. According to the gate control theory, pain experience can be reduced by activating certain nerve fibers, specifically the large diameter fibers, that conduct painful stimuli such as the application of mechanical vibration, thereby inhibiting pain signals from reaching the brain.
In general, massage therapy is employed to cause muscle relaxation, and as it is a method of massage, vibration therapy works the same way. When a muscle is relaxed, it will be more compliant and easily stretchable. A study on the effect of localized vibration therapy demonstrated an increase in muscle flexibility without affecting muscle strength following treatment, and this indicated that localized vibration may be an alternative to stretching to increase flexibility without risking strength deficits. Also, mechanical vibration can facilitate muscle activation. This effect was shown in a study where a localized application of vibration on a muscle resulted in significant improvement in the strength of the muscle opposite the targeted muscle. This is helpful to those who are working up specific areas of their bodies.
Either applied to the muscle before or after exercise, vibration therapy resulted in considerably less pain and faster recovery. Vibration therapy has been used as a post-exercise recovery tool to reduce or prevent the occurrence of delayed onset muscle soreness. The enhanced blood flow flushes out pain metabolites and lactic acid buildup post-workout, resulting in faster and more effective recovery. Other than this effect, vibration has been known to stimulate an increase in the production of growth hormone, granulation, and collagen tissues, as well as bone tissues. All of these results in faster healing. Like manual therapy, vibration therapy relaxes tight muscles with improved circulation, providing the body with a consistent supply of oxygen and nutrients. This helps in preventing injuries or makes your injuries heal faster.
After a bout of vibration from a Recovapro massage gun, you’ll feel the energy rushing into your body, giving you a mental boost so that you can aim high at your best to help you in your workout.