The effect of vibration massage

published by Dr. Robert Schleip in Fascia November 8, 2021
Dr. Robert Schleip

How to improve mobility and reduce pain using vibration massage

Vibration and massage are two approaches that were discovered over 1000 years apart. Originally, therapists would have manually vibrated the relevant area, but nowadays there are countless massage devices and other tools on sale, which use a combination of pressure to relax the muscles and vibration to stimulate metabolic activity. Massage guns and vibrating foam rollers are among the most popular products. In this article, you will find out whether a massage combined with vibration is good for your body, what effect it has, and when you should implement a vibration massage.

What is a vibration massage?

The word vibration comes from the Latin "vibrare", which roughly translates as "set into tremulous motion, oscillate or shake". A vibration massage uses oscillations to provide soothing stimulation and multidimensional movement for your tissues. Thanks to the vibration, the impact penetrates deep into the tissue, so any muscular knots or tense areas are loosened, released, and relaxed more effectively than for a massagewithout vibration. The vibrations penetrate deep into the body in a vibration massage.

What is the effect of a vibration massage?

A key effect of the vibration seems to be the way muscular tension is controlled. Depending on the vibration frequency used, a vibration massage can have an effect on the muscles that is either stimulating (over 35 Hz) or relaxing (under 30 Hz). Ideal preparation before a training session or as part of the cool down after a workout

The vibration mechanism offers vigorous metabolic and circulatory stimulation while also reducing pain. This is incredibly helpful for treating acute and chronic conditions. In addition, there is a long-term improvement in body awareness for the treated areas at all frequencies.

Other effects of vibration massage reported by experts and users:

  • increased blood flow
  • improved regeneration
  • prevention of muscle soreness
  • improved body awareness and movement control
  • enhanced mobility

Even the aerospace industry is interested in the effects of vibration massage. It is thought it could combat muscle degeneration for astronauts experiencing zero gravity.

Dr Robert Schleip, fascia researcher

"The stimulation penetrates deep into the tissue and acts like a soothing shower on the stretch receptors in the fascial tissue. With a bit of practice, you can find the ideal frequency for every area of the body, in other words, the frequency that corresponds best to the resonant frequency of the relevant tissue."

Dr Robert Schleip, fascia researcher

Applications for vibration massage

Scenarios in which you can benefit from a vibration massage:

Vibration tools for activation & regeneration

Is vibration massage healthy?

The positive health effects of vibration massage are attracting lots of attention in all sorts of areas. This technique has become an indispensable tool in therapy and prevention as well as rehabilitation. But increasing numbers of coaches, personal trainers and private individuals are also coming to appreciate the health benefits of vibration massage.

What tools are suitable for vibration massage?

A wide variety of vibration massage devices are now available. These include massage guns, vibrating foam rollers, handheld percussive devices and many more. Here we describe how these products differ.

Areal vs targeted stimulation

A vibration massage with a vibrating foam roller is a treatment that works on a wide area. In contrast, a massage gun focuses on a specific, local massage. A fundamental principle in massage is that you should proceed gradually from working on a large area of tissue to more targeted treatment.

What's more, the BLACKROLL® BOOSTER insert can do both: massage a large area in combination with a BLACKROLL® and perform targeted massage to work on trigger points in combination with the BLACKROLL® BOOSTER HEAD.

Regeneration and activation

Most vibration tools only offer limited options for adjusting the vibration frequency, or they may operate predominantly in a high-frequency range. The problem with this is that our muscles tighten in response to vibrations over 35 Hz. The regenerative effect is then lost. For this reason, a vibration massage device should always allow as many settings as possible.

The BLACKROLL® BOOSTER enables full adjustment of the intensity with a maximum frequency range between 12 and 56 Hertz (1 Hz = 1 oscillation per second, i.e. 720 to 3360 oscillations per minute).

The BLACKROLL® RELEAZER also works in a low frequency range and enables what therapists call shearing (in which a parallel force is applied across the tissue). This can improve tissue quality and promote regeneration.

The BLACKROLL® FASCIA GUN offers four vibration levels with a frequency range between 20 and 53.3 Hertz (1200r/min to 3200r/min).

Direction of the vibration

Most massage guns work by using vertical vibrations. These movements work towards and away from the body, creating a "pounding" effect. A similar sensation would be created if you clenched your hand in a fist and applied gentle pressure to your tissues. It is no coincidence that the use of a muscle massage gun is often referred to as "percussion therapy". Other devices work through eccentric vibrations in a horizontal direction across the tissue. These are more "rotational" in nature. Like when you place your finger firmly on the tissue and perform swift circular movements.

The BLACKROLL® BOOSTER vibration insert also works using these "rotational" vibrations. The tissue is displaced in a circular motion, which moves in parallel to the surface of the body. You can also control the direction of the BLACKROLL® BOOSTERS yourself to determine the way these vibrations impact your body. By applying a 90° angle, you create rotational, eccentric vibrations as described above. With an angle of 0° you get a deep vibration massage, in which the vibrations penetrate far into the tissue. And an angle of 45° can be used to experience a blend of both vibration movements for a highly individual vibration massage experience. Depending on the attachment used, the FASCIA GUN allows vibrations to be applied either in a purely vertical direction or with lateral movements up to an angle of 45°.

Massage Tools

What does research have to say about vibration massage?

A Studie aus dem Jahr 2020 investigated whether the combination of vibration (31Hz) and conventional self-massageusing the BLACKROLL® had a greater impact on the mobility of the thoracolumbar fascia (lumbodorsal fascia) than self-massage using the BLACKROLL® without vibration. In the group who used vibration massage with the help of the BLACKROLL® BOOSTER, there was significantly enhanced mobility between the subcutis and the lumbodorsal fascia than in the group who used the roller without additional vibration. It is important to remember that healthy fascia glide smoothly.

In the same study, a comparison was made of lumbar spine mobility between the group undertaking vibration massage and the group performing conventional self-massage. There was a significant increase in lumbar spine mobility both for vibration massage and for foam rolling without any vibration in comparison to the study participants who did not use the BLACKROLL®.

A substantial proportion of the proprioceptive nerve endings are not reached by slow stimulation because they only respond to rapidly changing stimuli. The advantage of a vibration massage is that it stimulates significantly more sensory receptors than a traditional massage, successfully penetrating even deeper areas of tissue.

The conclusion on vibration massage

The motto "Good vibes only" says it all. Vibration massage is beneficial and feels good. Research in this area might still be rather sparse, but lots of people are incredibly enthusiastic about massage with vibration. This can be used for regeneration after an intense workout but is also a useful tool to activate muscles before training or to prevent pain. If you are a fan of BLACKROLL® massage, you will love the upgrade with a BOOSTER vibration insert or treatment with the BLACKROLL® RELEAZER. Find out for yourself just how positive the effects can be.

*Source: Gordon CM, Lindner SM et al. Correlation between Hydration and Fascia Stiffness during a Self-help Treatment with a Myofascial Manipulation Tool Fascia Research IV, 2015.

Source: Efficacy of foam rolling with additional vibration stimulation on the mobility of the thoracolumbar fascia. An observational study (sciencedirect accessed on 19/03/21)

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