The Power Plate has become a way for people to improve fitness workouts, bone density and core strength. The concept is similar to the fat gyration machines that were popular in the 1950s at "fat farms" where a band was placed around the waist and gyrated at high speeds. The difference is the Power Plate is a machine you stand on with the vibrations coming from the ground up. While its many benefits have been touted, there are some risks to using the Power Plate. Consult your doctor if you are considering incorporating a Power Plate program into your exercise routine.
Power Plate Basics
NASA studied the Power Plate in efforts to help astronauts maintain bone density and reduce muscle atrophy while in space. Many of us would make the leap to say what is good for an astronaut is good for me. The Power Plate works by creating a vibrating floor, going as fast as 50 times per second. This increases the g-force on the body to do even the simplest task, such as standing or sitting upright. If you think about how your core muscles must work harder using a balance board, the same is true with the Power Plate, except a force is being exerted upon you.
Power Plates are becoming a popular mode of rehabilitation and training for those with osteoporosis. The vibrations help increase bone density and a workout that helps build leg and abdominal strength reduces the likelihood of falling. This is important for elderly women in particular who are at high risk of losing bone density and fracturing bones from accidental falls. Others are using the Power Plate to improve their workouts. Using the Power Plate alone without incorporating an exercise routine does little to improve fitness or weight loss.
While these are popular machines in chiropractic offices, a Power Plate workout is not for everyone. Pregnant women should not go on a Power Plate machine or any vibration machine as this may cause damage to the fetus. Those with spinal injuries, such as slipped discs or pinched nerves may increase damage by using the machine because their body will not be able to sustain proper alignment through the vibration period. Those with blood clots may increase the chance of stroke. While aging women with bone density issues can most benefit from a Power Plate workout, they may increase their chances of a fall by using the machine improperly or without a spotter. Always check with your doctor to see if vibration training is suitable for you.
The dangers of the Power Plate extend to everyone, not just those who are not supposed to use it based on other medical conditions. The reason is that regular exposure to vibration may affect your vision or brain. That's right, you can liken the possible dangerous results of the Power Plate to the possible results of shaking a baby. While adult brains are not as susceptible as a growing child, there are still risks. Clinton Rubin, a biomedical engineering professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook believes these high levels of vibration may lead to increased back pain, cartilage damage, vision and hearing loss as well as possible brain damage.
There is still much research that needs to be done on the Power Plate machine and other vibration machines. While there are clear benefits, it is difficult to determine whether they outweigh the risks. Researchers are still unclear as to the frequency a person should do a Power Plate workout and how high a frequency the Power Plate should ramp up to.