Whole body vibration: stimulus characteristics and acute neuromuscular responses
Sanderson, Mark Findlay
Whole body vibration (WBV) delivers a stimulus to the body via an oscillating platform and remains a relatively new area of research. Several applications of WBV stimuli have been developed as strength training and rehabilitation modalities, but inconsistent results have been published. There is little knowledge underpinning the mechanisms to explain the elicited neuromuscular responses to WBV and a wide range of WBV parameters across the literature. As a result, safe and effective protocols are yet to be established or validated. The aim of this current research was to investigate: the electromyography (EMG) and explosive performance responses to varying WBV frequencies; the effect of WBV data analysis techniques; and the influence of external factors on WBV stimulus and neuromuscular responses. Three main studies were completed: 1. An individualised response of both EMG and jump performance appears to exist dependent on vertical WBV frequency, in trained participants. This is in spite of no overall frequency dependent effect of EMG or performance responses across participants as a group. The influence of the role of expectancy effect appears minimal following this particular WBV protocol. 2. There was a significant effect of filter technique on EMG data recorded during vertical WBV. A tailored, WBV specific notch filter technique may offer an effective balance; excluding WBV noise artifacts without removing significant portions of valuable muscle signal EMG data. 3. The influence of external load on WBV acceleration output also appears minimal. Platform acceleration output was dependent on WBV frequency, as expected. Lower accelerations were recorded in superior body segments, suggesting a dampening mechanism, which was also proportionally dependent on frequency. EMG activity of upper and lower leg segments may differ in response to frequency, likely due to transmission distances involved. This may partially account for a potential dampening mechanism. In addition, a protocol to quantify WBV stimuli delivered by this particular WBV type illustrated significant differences in theoretical and actual parameters. This may explain not only the lack of overall explosive performance effect reported earlier; but also the inconsistent WBV literature. Future research should quantify WBV stimulus before investigating possible neuromuscular responses to individualised protocols, which may be assessed via EMG activity.