Article by Gabriel Ettenson, MS, PT
It has already been established that Whole Body Vibration therapy / training can successfully improve circulation, lymphatic mobility, muscle tone and strength, muscle flexibility, joint proprioception, and most importantly, efficiency of the neuromuscular system. When treating an individual with knee pathology, it is by carefully and selectively harnessing these systemic effects that successful treatment can be accomplished and the long term benefits maintained.
Osteoarthritis (OA): A common degenerative condition, knee OA generally refers to the progressive, degenerative changes to the articular cartilage that lines the surfaces of the bones that comprise the knee joint. It may or may not include wearing of the under surface of the patella (knee cap) as well.
In either case, once the cartilage has deteriorated, the bony surfaces are exposed and with repeated exposure to normal, unavoidable, compressive forces (i.e. walking, standing, stair climbing, exercise etc.), pain and inflammation will ensue. The end result of these painful changes is a gradual reduction in joint mobility, reduced viscosity of the joint, decreased local muscular activity and support, local connective tissue tightness (including muscle tissue), gait dysfunction, and a reduced overall functional level.
For the individual that suffers from OA, “traditional” therapy interventions, although successful at times, have limitations. Chief amongst these limitations is the inability to consistently tolerate weight bearing exercises (squats, lunges, step activities etc.); an integral part of the recovery process and essential for restoring the support and shock absorbing capabilities of the muscles around the joint.
With Whole Body Vibration therapy, when first considering the squat position, a cornerstone exercise for lower body strength, the design of the platform allows the patient to utilize the upper body to control the amount of weight through the lower body. This helps them maintain their weight comfortably through their heels while successfully holding the appropriate joint angle. Successfully holding this position through a 30-60 second interval will not only “jumpstart” the neuromuscular system, but immediately improve circulation to the joint as well as local muscular activity and tone. This will allow the patient to tolerate further weight bearing exercises; exercises that may include the wide squat, superman squat, lunge, bridge, or unsupported heel raise.
Shall I keep going? How about the lymphatic system? One of this system’s responsibilities, as it applies to OA, is to help remove the excess swelling that is typically seen in an arthritic joint (acute and chronic). Often responsible for interfering with local muscle activity, this swelling also occupies space within the joint and creates further limitation in movement. Like no other form of treatment, Whole Body Vibration therapy, through the extremely high number of muscle contractions it creates, significantly enhances lymphatic system mobility and can lead to the quick and efficient removal of excess fluid in the joint.
I could go on for days, but for those that already participate in a Whole Body Vibration therapy program, it would only be further review. For those who are just beginning to explore this breakthrough technology, I am sure you have enough to push you forward. The rest of the many, many benefits you will gain will only further serve to amaze you!