I was recently invited to check out the Amplitude Vibration Studio, a training facility founded by physical therapist Gabriel Ettenson. For those of us of a certain age, the words ‘vibration studio’ surely conjures up black and white archival footage of chubby people being shaken by waistbands, so I was heartened that Ettenson's email contained a shot of Mark Cavendish on a vibration plate.
Whole body vibration can be used in strength training, stretching, and recovery. The vibrations cause a rapid stretch of muscle tendons, which makes the muscle contract to oppose the stretch. Thousands of these accelerations occur in minutes (the machine vibrates up to 30 hertz, or 30 times per second), and the entire muscle is effected, as opposed to 40-50% from regular exercise.
I visited the facility with James Stevens and Ettenson guided us through a sampling of exercises and stretches. I did squats on the machine and they did indeed feel more intense than normal squats. Stevens served as the guinea pig for the rest of the demo:
An array of the Galileo (branded Vibraflex in the US) machines.
Ettenson gradually introduces Stevens to the odd sensation of the platform. As you can see from the blur, the platform rocks like a seesaw. The frequency of the vibration is controlled at the console, and the amplitude is varied by setting your feet at different widths. The rocking motion is meant to simulate the human gait – despite the vigorous motion your head remains quite still.
Ettenson guides Stevens through some squats on the machine.
According to Ettenson, a flexible muscle is a stronger muscle. Stretching on a plate increases flexibility, and its effect is supposedly longer lasting than regular stretching. Here Stevens shows his normal reach.
Stevens gets on the machine and works his way lower, using a stool for balance.
A few minutes later, toes touched.
Stretching the achilles.
Hip flexor stretch on a different machine, which oscillates up and down rather than seesawing.
The plate can aid in recovery as well. Stevens' calves take a ride on the Galileo.
Now, having just had a brief visit to the facility, there's no way I can vouch for it. Instead here's a testimonial from longtime client Ira Krell of the Western Union team:
I came to Gabriel Ettenson by way of referral from an orthopedist I was seeing for severe knee pain. The doctor wasn’t sure what my issues were but knew I was in pain. The doctor felt I needed arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus but admitted that wasn’t the cause of my pain. He recommended Gabriel because of his out of the box techniques and approach to PT. Within weeks, Gabriel did what several of MDs and PTs couldn’t. He got to the root of my issue and FIXED the cause while everyone else looked to provide pain relief.
During the process, Gabriel introduced me to vibration therapy. It did wonders for my balance/flexibility and interesting enough we began to see improvements in strength. I started to see significant improvement in my cycling performance and general fitness. Once my course of treatment ended I continued visiting the vibration studio. This is what I have found - a half hour workout leaves you completely depleted without the residual soreness associated with lifting weights. I noticed a loss of body fat and an increase in muscle definition. Vibration training works my whole body so I saw improvement in non-cycling muscle groups. The science aside vibration therapy works.
At 48, I am now having great fun racing. I am more than holding my own when before I had trouble hanging on the back of a CRCA A field or 123 race. I share this with you because of my fondness for Gabriel. I truly believe in his theories, philosophies and approach to conditioning. Vibration improved my well being and has allowed me to train/race more seriously. I rode on a limited basis while my kids were young and as we got older I found it harder to keep up. I was prepared to hang up racing because of the aches/pains. Meeting Gabriel and adding vibration allowed me to work on my physiological weak areas which enabled me to train/ride harder.
Membership at Amplitude works on a month by month basis at $100 a month for unlimited visits.
On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.
The fall is here and winter will soon be upon us.