Background and Purpose: Whole-body vibration (WBV) training is a relatively new approach for enhancing muscle strength, physical performance, and flexibility. The aim of this study was to examine whether short-term WBV training by using the triple-plane vertical vibration device (ie, acceleration training [AT]) improves functional mobility and flexibility in healthy, older adults.
Methods: Eighteen healthy, older adults (9 men and 9 women; mean age 69.1 years; standard deviation, 2.5 years) participated in this randomized, crossover study. Two static stretching positions, half-squatting and hamstrings stretching, were performed with (AT) and without (control [Con]) vibration stimulus (frequency, 40 Hz; amplitude, 2-4 mm). The intervention consisted of stretching for 30 seconds per set × 3 sets per position, alternating between the 2 stretching positions. The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test was measured to determine functional mobility, which is closely linked to lower extremity muscle function. Sit-and-Reach and Functional Reach tests were performed to evaluate flexibility.
Results: Only the TUG test demonstrated a significant time × intervention interaction: TUG test results improved significantly immediately and 30 minutes after the AT but not after the Con intervention. We found significant main effects of time on the Sit-and-Reach and Functional Reach results. Furthermore, the improvement rates after the AT intervention were greater than the improvement rates after the Con intervention at the immediate and 30-minute posttests.
Conclusion: Short-term WBV training by using the triple-plane vertical vibration device elicited a significantly larger improvement in functional mobility than training without WBV. The effect on flexibility was similar with and without vibration stimulus, but there was a greater tendency to improve with WBV training in healthy, older adults. In addition, these short-term effects were maintained for about 30 minutes.