The AROM saw a significant improvement in the intervention group (I) for both legs compared with that of the control group (right leg: F 1,15 = 11.165; p < 0.01; ICCR = 0.814; left leg: F 1,15 = 15.218; p < 0.01; ICCR = 0.834; Table 2, Figure 3). No significant changes were noted for the control group. Neither group reported any significant changes in thigh and calf circumferences.
The reported data show that WBV training has the potential to increase jump height and AROM in young trained dancers without increasing thigh and calf circumferences. Previous research (4,6,7,12,14,25,27,32) has often used sedentary subjects where it is to be expected that performance adaptations occur without circumferential changes in muscles because of the primary muscular adaptation to overload being neuromuscular. This study, using trained subjects, still noted an improvement in jump performance without hypertrophical development suggesting that the WBV can still cause neuromuscular adaptations, as suggested by Bosco et al. (7,8). This is extremely beneficial in activities wherein the esthetic look of the limbs is important, as in dance and gymnastics, or wherein body weight is an issue, for example, in distance running, rock climbing, and judo.
It is suggested that increased motor unit recruitment as a result of tonic vibration reflex stimulates a greater training effect by allowing the participant to train with higher loads (17) and by stimulating increased motor unit fatigue (25). The substantial sensory stimulation and subsequent reflexive contraction responses of WBV are thought to result in an overall increased efficiency of the afferent pathways and sensitization of the muscle spindles (12). The similarity between the sensory stimulation and subsequent reflexive response seen in both WBV and the eccentric phase of jumping is suggested to be one of the reasons for the improvements in jump performance seen in this study and commonly in other studies.
The 5.7% increase in jump height in dancers after 4 weeks in this study is comparable with the 5.9% increase found in dancers by Wyon et al. (32) in 6 weeks using a very similar protocol. It is suggested that the incorporation of a progressive training protocol, the 5-Hz increase in frequency and 10 additional seconds in each position, in this study allowed for jump height improvements to be achieved in a shorter time because of an increased overload effect.
Active range of movement, especially around the hips, is a vital component of most dance forms (2,28). A number of studies have reported different methods of improving hip AROM using stretching (31) and strengthening (15). This study was the first to demonstrate the benefit that short exposure to WBV has on AROM, though Gilsanz et al. (13) reported a WBV effect in some of the muscles used in active hip flexibility (psoas, hip flexors). The subjects in this study improved their mean AROM by 15 and 17% (right and left legs, respectively) compared with the 11% mean improvement recorded by a strengthening intervention (15).
The use of external load and individualized vibration frequencies and the subsequent effects on muscular hypertrophy warrant further research and further measurements of the EMG and power ratio after WBV training. Although invasive research methodology is generally avoided, methods such as magnetic resonance imaging or muscle biopsy may allow a much deeper understanding of the muscle fibers targeted and the modifications taking place.
In conclusion, this study provides evidence for the suitability of WBV training to dancers to provide rapid performance gains in jump height and active range of movement (développé) without significantly altering leg muscle size. This study also demonstrates that significant improvements can be achieved in relatively shorter periods of time (4 weeks) with less exposure to WBV than reported in earlier studies (4,6,7,12,14,25,27,32). The mechanisms responsible for physiological adaptation are much debated; however this study appears to favor neurological adaptation as the dominant mechanism even in trained subjects.
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