Shaken but not stirred? Power-Plate Overview

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As a regular user of Power-Plates and having completed a training course on it – I thought I would write a post to encourage more people to give them a try.

You may have seen one of the Power-Plate machines in your gym and been a little wary of it – since it seems to stand there looking a bit pointless. You may have preconceptions about it or seen someone use it (most likely holding a squat position) and been dubious about it’s usefulness…..  either way I think Power-Plates tend to be viewed a little negatively and in my eyes a bit unfairly.

I think the main problem is that it’s a machine that appears in a gym and people jump onto it without any real instruction or explanation. They crank it up to the max, thinking that more means better get shaken up (and sometimes feeling a little nauseous) and decide it’s not worth it.

So let’s start at the beginning……..

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The machine itself is a vibrating platform that vibrates in 3 planes – mainly up and down but also, backward and forward and side to side.

Users can select the level of vibration (from 30 – 50 times per second), the vertical intensity of vibration (low or high) as well as the length of time (from 30 – 60 seconds).

They should in no way be confused with the “Jiggle-Belts” from the Sixties. They have been used by the Russian Space program in the Seventies and the Dutch Olympic team since 1999 and from there, have been used by numerous professional athletes and celebrities, but only recently started to find their way into our gyms.

The science and benefits have been well documented.

Normally our muscles will contract once or twice per second – however by standing on the vibrating plate, it causes an automatic muscle contraction 30-50 times per second. The vibrations challenge our body’s center of gravity causing it to react by making reflex adaptions to maintain our base of support.

These adaptions include increased blood flow (improving circulation and lymphatic drainage), increases the percentage of muscle fiber recruitment by up to 95% (improving strength, speed and power), stimulates bone cells (improving bone density) as well as increasing metabolic rate (increasing the body’s fat burning potential).

Various research studies have also confirmed it’s effectiveness – professional sports clubs use them to maintain performance during a match and are now also starting to be used within Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation clinics (including the NHS) and is now a Certified Medical Device.

It’s a shame that more people in the gym don’t use them!

They are perfect for use within a warm-up (as a simple static (held) stretch is now made dynamic (moving) due to the vibrations), but also for making core and resistance exercises more challenging, as well as assisting with post-workout stretches helping to improve flexibility and reduce soreness. Any exercise you would normally perform on the floor using either body-weight or free-weights can be made more challenging by using a Power-Plate, making them more effective and time efficient, as you’ll fatigue a lot sooner.

Top-Tips using Power-Plate

1. Stretches and Exercises should be performed using the 30-35 and low intensity setting, with your post-workout “massage” using the 40-50 and high intensity settings.  However – it is you that decides which setting you prefer. Some people really like the higher ranges, others have said it can make them feel sick, dizzy or like pins and needles – that is why I always suggest to start low!

2.  “Move” on it. There is usually a poster guide close to the machine that will show various different positions and settings to use, however try not to simply use a static hold. Move in and out of the position both vertically and horizontally – and where possible add in some rotation too! That way you will make the exercise far more effective.

3. Do NOT stand straight-up! It causes the vibrations to travel directly through the joints up into the skull and can feel really uncomfortable. Always have a slight bend at the knees/hip.

4. Use the mat if you’re not standing on the plate ie. if a joint, arm, leg etc are placed in contact with the plate) this makes it a lot more comfortable.  Also take the mat off if your feet are on it as the rough surface will help your trainers grip.

5. Don’t suffer through it – it can be a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. If you don’t like it then get off/press “stop” – don’t wait until the end of the allotted time. Try a lower setting/shorter time. But if you really don’t like it – then don’t force yourself to use it.

There are no medical contra-indications for using a Power-Plate – providing the person has already been cleared for exercise by their GP. However those who have a detached retina, suffer motion-sickness or vertigo it may not be a good idea! Anyone pregnant should not lie with their back on the machine unless there is a slight incline, and anyone with joint replacements or pins should avoid placing the joints affected in direct contact with the plate.  If in doubt – always seek advice from your GP.

Here’s a quick vid from YouTube as an example of using the plate:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bss0t8uV3Zk

But there’s lots more with example workouts too.

Hopefully, I’ve managed to give a little more info on this new piece of kit and maybe next time you spot one – you might give them a try.

Don’t forget – You can always ask one of the gym team to give you some assistance if needed.

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