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January 14, 2020 6 min read

At an appropriate application, either in conjunction with other interventions or as the sole treatment modality, Recovapro massage gun works in two ways for crossed syndromes: First, Recovapro's innovative vibration therapy eases out tension from the tight muscles due to its inhibitory effect. Second, it activates the lengthened muscles via its facilitatory effect. Both mechanisms follow either the process of Autogenic Inhibition or Reciprocal Inhibition.

Understanding Autogenic and Reciprocal Inhibition

The golgi tendon organ (GTO) is a proprioceptive sensory receptor located at both ends of a muscle at its origin and insertion. It responds to changes in muscle tension by inhibiting further contraction of a muscle (agonist), thereby inducing relaxation (reflex inhibition), while activating the opposing muscle (antagonist). This is Autogenic Inhibition, and it's an important consideration when attempting to elongate a severely tight muscle in crossed syndromes either with manual stretching or with the application of mechanical vibration, such as provided by a massage gun.  When the GTO prevents the contraction of the agonist muscle and allows the contraction of the antagonist muscle, the muscle will be easier to stretch and a further range of motion can be achieved.

The muscle spindle, on the other hand, is a proprioceptive sense organ that senses changes in muscle length or stretch and the speed of the stretch. When a muscle is lengthened, the muscle spindles are stretched, and activated, causing reflex contraction of the agonist muscle (stretch reflex and relaxation of the antagonist muscle. This is reciprocal inhibition. When mechanical vibration is applied to the already stretch muscle in crossed syndromes, these muscles may be activated and respond more to the strengthening program.

ON TIGHT, OVERACTIVE MUSCLES

Studies have shown that vibration therapy may be a potential adjunct to static stretching in increasing range of motion (Sands et al., 2006). Localized vibration therapy, such as the one offered by Recovapro, demonstrated effectiveness in enhancing flexibility in combination with stretching exercises (Issurin et al., 1994) and was comparable to static stretching in effects when applied as a single method of flexibility management (Atha & Wheatley, 1976).

There are three mechanisms by which localized vibration therapy can be beneficial in improving range of motion: increased pain threshold, enhanced blood flow (with increased temp), and induced relaxation (Issurin et al., 1994).

It is normal to experience pain during stretching. It’s a protective mechanism by which our body prevents itself from being overstretched and injured. But in situations where aggressive stretching is required, such as in cases of severe contractures and adhesions, this can be appropriate and can be safe provided that the end-range stretch is performed just above the limit of the available range. A decrease in pain through vibration therapy may aid in allowing greater ranges of motion before the onset of stretching pain. Various studies demonstrated a reduction in pain following vibration therapy, either with high frequency (Pantaleo et al., 1986) or low frequency (Lundeberg et al, 1984).

Following exposure to mechanical vibration, various measurements, such as heart rate, fluid volume, blood flow velocity, and blood pressure, demonstrated an increase (Kerschan-Schindl et al., 2001), and thus, signifies enhanced blood circulation. This induced blood flow may increase local body temperature, which has been associated with increased muscle flexibility (Draper et al., 2004; Sands et al., 2006).

Lastly, the relaxation effect has been demonstrated in various studies (Elfering et al., 2016; Turnbull et al., 1982). The vibratory effect of muscle relaxation can be achieved via the two mechanisms, autogenic inhibition and reciprocal inhibition. If a muscle is allowed to contract either by voluntary sub-maximal effort or facilitation by local application of mechanical vibration and then stretched, it is mediated by a mechanism known as Autogenic Inhibition, but if it is followed by stretching of the opposite muscle, it works through a process of Reciprocal Inhibition(Chaitow & Crenshaw, 2006). Increasing muscle tension through mechanical vibration activates the golgi tendon organ (GTO), which is sensitive to tension, inhibits contraction of the activated or vibrated muscle, resulting in its relaxation (Sands et al., 2006). And therefore, can be easily stretched.

Apart from these scientific pieces of evidence, the alternating pressure by mechanical vibration can really relax and soothe any tense muscles.

ON WEAK, UNDERACTIVE MUSCLES

At an appropriate frequency and intensity, mechanical vibration can produce contraction of the targeted muscle through tonic vibratory reflex(TVR) by stimulating the muscle spindle, while also eliciting an inhibitory effect on the antagonistic (opposite) muscle via GTO inhibition, resulting in relaxation (Hagbarth & Eklund, 1966). These can be effective mechanisms to utilize in both the Upper‑Crossed and Lower‑Crossed Syndromes, and both can be achieved using Recovapro.

Various frequencies have been studied as to what range can produce muscle contraction. Higher frequency, such as 50 Hz, was proposed to be facilitatory compared to the lower one (30 Hz). The stimulation between 80 – 120 Hz activates the tonic vibratory reflex, and the application of mechanical vibration on a stretched muscle produces a stronger contraction, as the stretching has already activated the muscle spindle, causing a reflexive contraction (Poenaru et al., 2016).

Several pieces of research demonstrated the facilitatory effect of mechanical vibration, specifically in aiding muscular contraction and strengthening. When vibratory stimulus was applied simultaneously with isometric contraction, greater force production was elicited in the vibrated muscle (Johnston et al., 1970). Likewise, a significant increase in voluntary maximal isotonic contraction of the treated muscle was also observed following vibration, mainly through muscle spindle activation.

Recovapro's vibration stimulates muscle contraction, inducing a pumping mechanism which in turn enhances blood circulation. The massaging effect has the following benefits:

  • Provides both the tight and stretched muscles ample supply of oxygen and nutrients needed for healing, repair, and recovery.
  • It helps in alleviating pain by flushing out pain metabolites, apart from decreasing pain perception through the gate control theory.
  • It softens adhesions and contractures in tight muscles.
  • It washes out toxins, particularly in stretched and fatigued muscles.

REFERENCES

  • Chaitow L, Crenshaw K. Muscle energy techniques. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2006.
  • Issurin, V. B., Liebermann, D. G., & Tenenbaum, G. (1994). Effect of vibratory stimulation training on maximal force and flexibility. Journal of sports sciences, 12(6), 561–566. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640419408732206
  • Poenaru, D., Cinteza, D., Petrusca, I., Cioc, L., & Dumitrascu, D. (2016). Local Application of Vibration in Motor Rehabilitation - Scientific and Practical Considerations. Maedica, 11(3), 227–231.
  • Poenaru, D., Cinteza, D., Petrusca, I., Cioc, L., & Dumitrascu, D. (2016). Local Application of Vibration in Motor Rehabilitation - Scientific and Practical Considerations. Maedica, 11(3), 227–231.
  • Hagbarth, K. E., & Eklund, G. (1966). Tonic vibration reflexes (TVR) in spasticity. Brain research, 2(2), 201–203. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-8993(66)90029-1
  • Johnston, R. M., Bishop, B., & Coffey, G. H. (1970). Mechanical vibration of skeletal muscles. Physical therapy, 50(4), 499–505. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/50.4.499
  • Kerschan-Schindl, K., Grampp, S., Henk, C., Resch, H., Preisinger, E., Fialka-Moser, V., & Imhof, H. (2001). Whole-body vibration exercise leads to alterations in muscle blood volume. Clinical physiology (Oxford, England), 21(3), 377–382. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2281.2001.00335.x
  • Pantaleo, T., Duranti, R., & Bellini, F. (1986). Effects of vibratory stimulation on muscular pain threshold and blink response in human subjects. Pain, 24(2), 239–250. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-3959(86)90046-1
  • Lundeberg, T., Nordemar, R., & Ottoson, D. (1984). Pain alleviation by vibratory stimulation. Pain, 20(1), 25–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-3959(84)90808-x
  • Atha, J., & Wheatley, D. W. (1976). Joint mobility changes due to low frequency vibration and stretching exercise. British journal of sports medicine, 10(1), 26–34. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.10.1.26
  • Issurin, V. B., Liebermann, D. G., & Tenenbaum, G. (1994). Effect of vibratory stimulation training on maximal force and flexibility. Journal of sports sciences, 12(6), 561–566. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640419408732206
  • Sands, W. A., McNeal, J. R., Stone, M. H., Russell, E. M., & Jemni, M. (2006). Flexibility enhancement with vibration: Acute and long-term. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 38(4), 720–725. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.000021020
  • Draper, D. O., Castro, J. L., Feland, B., Schulthies, S., & Eggett, D. (2004). Shortwave diathermy and prolonged stretching increase hamstring flexibility more than prolonged stretching alone. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy, 34(1), 13–20. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2004.34.1.13
  • Turnbull, G. I., Ross, L. C., & Peacock, J. B. (1982). Frequency analysis of commercially available vibrators. Physiotherapy Canada. Physiotherapie Canada, 34(1), 21–26.
  • Elfering, A., Burger, C., Schade, V., & Radlinger, L. (2016). Stochastic resonance whole body vibration increases perceived muscle relaxation but not cardiovascular activation: A randomized controlled trial. World journal of orthopedics, 7(11), 758–765. https://doi.org/10.5312/wjo.v7.i11.758

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