The immediate effect of vibration therapy on flexibility in female junior elite gymnasts
Training to improve flexibility is a critical element in producing optimal performance for gymnasts. Static stretching occupies a large percentage of training time therefore finding a better method of improving flexibility is desirable in order to free more training time for focused skill and technique development. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the acute effects of vibration therapy on the flexibility of female gymnasts. A pre-test, post-test design was used to evaluate this effect. Fifty two gymnasts were assigned to either the control group or to one of three experimental groups. For both the pre- and post-testing all gymnasts performed a forward split, during which flexibility was measured as the distance from the anterior-superior iliac spine of the rear leg to the floor. After the pre-test, the control group sat quietly for 10 minutes, one group performed 10 minutes of static stretching in the forward split position, the second did a forward split on a Power PlateTM vibration trainer for 30 seconds and the third did 10 minutes of static stretching in the forward split position followed by 30 seconds on the vibration therapy. There was a statistically significant difference between the flexibility of the four groups (p<0.05) from pre-test to post-test, with the greatest improvement in the vibration therapy group (39.3%). Further comparisons using the Fisher’s LSD method showed significant differences (p<0.05) between all three experimental groups and the control group, and between the vibration training group and the static stretching group. In conclusion, vibration therapy significantly enhances flexibility and could be used strategically by gymnasts in preparation for competition.
Keywords: Static stretching, vibration training, vibration therapy, acute effect, artistic gymnastics.