FitFlops and The Power Plate: Do They Really Work?
The Power PlateClaims
It creates instability in the body by using whole body vibrations -- basically you stand on a plate, hold on, and it vibrates. Here's what the manufacturer claims: "Power Plate employs a 20-by-32-inch body positioning plate housing a driving mechanism that evenly distributes vibrations throughout the body, accelerating and magnifying the same contraction and relaxation muscular reflexes employed when performing traditional weight training exercises."
"Power Plate utilizes revolutionary principles of whole body vibration therapy to substantially improve muscle strength and performance, flexibility, enhance critical blood flow throughout the body, expedite the recovery and regeneration of damaged tissue, and ultimately, enhance the general wellness and quality of life for individuals young and old."Facts
There is scientific evidence that whole body vibration can help with agility, balance, and fall prevention in the elderly, says Nathaniel Tindel, a New York City back surgeon, and author of I've Got Your Back (NAL Trade, 2007). In fact, there are more than 100 papers on the topic. Whole body vibration therapy shows promise for muscle warm-up, flexibility, knee stability, and neurological controls, among other benefits, says William J. Kraemer, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.
Vibration training works through a strong neuromuscular stimulus. An acceleration of the plate causes the body to react. "While there have been only moderate increases in size of muscle, there are strong results for the elderly and conditioned athletes in increased muscle power," says Joseph Signorile, a professor of exercise science at the University of Miami and Power Plate adviser. Muscle power is the rate at which you can produce strength -- the "spring in your step." He's seen results in as little as 15 minutes per day.Fiction
This is "not a panacea for all fitness." We still don't know exactly how to use it, when to use it, and for which populations it works best. More research needs to be done, says Kraemer.
According to Sal Marinello, CSCS, CPT, a fitness expert and blogger in Milburn, New Jersey, "Whole vibration therapy is a gimmick, plain and simple, from the idea that standing and/or exercising on a vibrating plate will help you get fit to the expensive nature of the machines. I can't see one positive about it."Concerns
"The Power Plate can make your body better equipped to handle the stresses of whatever sport or activity you follow, but unless you are going to be living and moving on a vibrating surface permanently, you'll need to train off the plate," says Jonathan Ross, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.
Additionally, there is no documentation of any cardio benefits, says Christina "Tina" A. Geithner, a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine. Furthermore, Power Plate is expensive: Models range from $2,500 to $10,500, says Ross.Bottom Line
This is potentially one tool in a fitness and exercise toolbox, but it's still too early to make broad, sweeping claims that vibration therapy will get you fit. In fact, according to Kraemer, vibration therapy will never "by itself, create fit people -- that I guarantee."
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, founder and editor of DietDetective.com, the health and fitness network, and author of The Diet Detective's Calorie Bargain Bible. Copyright 2008 by Charles Stuart Platkin. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from www.dietdetective.com, April 2008.
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