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Shake Up your Fitness Routine with Vibration Therapy

The Beach Boys were far from the first to talk about good vibrations. While of a different sort, the ancient Greeks employed vibrations to help warriors heal faster from their injuries. The vibes came from sawing wood, plucking an instrument or riding a donkey.

Vibration therapy in the 19th century was used to treat morbidity, what were called “nervous diseases” and even Parkinson’s disease. It was thought to help reduce weight and build muscles.

Such therapy mostly fell by the wayside until the Russians in the 1970s used it on their Olympic team to speed up recovery and by cosmonauts to build up their strength after space travel.

In today’s whole-body vibration therapy — used by standing, sitting or lying on a machine with a vibration platform — energy is transmitted to your body as the machine produces high-frequency vibrations, forcing muscles to contract and relax dozens of times each second.

You may have spotted an upright one or one that looks like a thick plate (or giant Roomba) on the floor in your gym, but you can buy these machines for home use.

Some say as little as 15 minutes a day three times a week may burn fat, improve flexibility, enhance blood flow, reduce soreness and build strength. However, in-depth research on whole-body vibration is inadequate, others say, in showing whether it stands up to the benefits of walking, biking or swimming.

Still, research shows that whole-body vibration combined with reducing calories may promote weight loss and help improve muscle strength and bone density.

While considered safe for people with limited mobility to reduce sore and stiff joints and older adults to help with balance, muscle strength and coordination, this type of therapy is not recommended for people with a history of blood clots, pregnant women and those with pacemakers or other medical devices.

Vibration therapy also is not recommended for certain medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease or epilepsy.

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