Friday, December 7, 2007

Exercise, Wound Healing & Scientific Vibrations

According to a University of Illinois study in the American Journal of Physiology, moderate exercise helps wound healing in the elderly:

“The key point of the study is that moderate exercise sped up how fast wounds heal in old mice,” said researcher K. Todd Keylock, who noted that the improved healing response “may be the result of an exercise-induced anti-inflammatory response in the wound.”

The U. of I. study caught my interest because my mom is still healing from a stage IV wound from her terrible fall in October. I'm forever after her to take more walks and go for longer walks, mostly to improve her muscle tone and balance, but now I can share that exercise will also help her wound heal faster.

The researchers at U. of I. and Bowling Green are still unclear about why exercise helps heal wounds more quickly (e.g., some theorize that exercise adds more oxygen to a hypoxic wound site).

I worked with a personal trainer for a few months last year, experimenting with doing squats, weight lifting and balancing exercises on a vibrating disk called the Power Plate. I enjoyed the experience, which left me feeling like I had really worked out and also just gotten a massage. But it was too expensive to do regularly, so I went back to regular treadmill stuff at the gym.

As an aside, my gym just got a vibrating exercise machine (I haven't inspected up close to know what kind). You have to "pay by the session," so I haven't been inclined. Funny, gym management is worried about limiting demand, but I never see anyone on that thing.

Anyway, here's a condensed promotional blurb from the Power Plate site (with my highlights):

"Power Plate has become an important training and injury/rehab device for the Chicago Bulls...and has demonstrated impressive results (in)...strength, flexibility, metabolism and circulation...(and) has proved to be a good remedy to soreness and pain reduction, while accelerating the injury / rehab cycle."

It makes sense that cells in a wound get stimulated by the increased blood flow and oxygen from moderate exercise, much as a river's health is stimulated with steady waterflow and oxygenation. Anyone who has ever maintained a fish tank knows this dynamic.

However, something more could also be going on.

There are many stories about the healing power of vibrational energies, ranging from how cats' purring heals bones and muscle injuries to therapies like Johrei, a non-invasive energy healing practice from Japan that has received NIH funding. And, yes, there are enough bad web sites on the power of vibrational energy to make skeptics wince.

It will be interesting to follow the research on specific vibrational frequencies for healing and also how popular vibrating exercise machines will actually become.

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