PT Classroom - The use of the Bodyblade in Physical Therapy Treatment ׀ by Jennifer Hill, MPT, CSCS & Chai Rasavong, MPT, MBA

 

The Bodyblade is a piece of equipment that is popular in many physical therapy clinics. It was invented by a physical therapist, Bruce Hymanson, who was initially seeking to create an exercise regimen that would train the muscles around the shoulders without forcing the joint to initially go through a wide range of motion, thus minimizing pain (1).

The Bodyblade is composed of a one-and-a-half pound flexible foil ranging from two-and-a-half to five feet long, with a handgrip right in the middle (1). “When using the Bodyblade, the posture of the user, the position and orientation of blade, and the amplitude of the oscillations will determine which specific muscle groups are being targeted and their level of activation. The Bodyblade may be held in 1 or 2 hands, but to achieve oscillation at its neutral frequency, motion in the user’s trunk and proximal arm muscle must be minimized; excessive trunk or arm motion interferes with the coordination necessary to isolate reciprocal motions to the hand (2).”

Bodyblade claims to assist with developing increase muscular strength and endurance, increasing joint mobility and range of motion, and enhancing coordination and posture (1). They report that in just one minute, the ends of the Bodyblade are said move back and forth up to 270 times. The resistance needed to control the blade can range from 1 to 34 pounds depending on the amplitude of the flexing tips (1).

In a study by Moreside et al. (2), they analyzed the trunk muscle activation patterns, spine kinematics, and lumbar compressive forces that occur when utilizing the Bodyblade in 14 healthy male subjects. Their study found that depending upon the orientation, amplitude of oscillation, and specific technique, the Bodyblade may either enhance or compromise spine stability. They also found that associated lumbar compressive forces may be inappropriate for some individuals with compressive lumbar spine pathology. However, specific techniques appear to be effective for recruiting spine stabilizers.

In another study by Lister et al. (3), they studied the use of the bodyblade, cuff weights and Thera-band to determine which device would produce the greatest muscle activity of the scapular stabilizers during a typical rehabilitation session. Their study involved a sample of 30 collegiate athletes. EMG data were collected from the upper trapezius, lower trapezius, and serratus anterior of subjects' dominant shoulders during flexion and abduction using Bodyblade, cuff weight and Thera-Band resistance. They concluded that the Bodyblade produces greater scapular activity than traditional resistance techniques.

Although studies have shown some positive results with the use of the Bodyblade, further studies should be conducted in a population that have medical issues. In the physical therapy clinic great care should be taken to select which patient would be an appropriate candidate for its use. Supervision of the patient when utilizing the Bodyblade is also important, as improper posture and use of the Bodyblade may not only impede gains but worst yet, result in an injury.

Listed below are some sample exercises involving the Bodyblade (1). Click here for the full wall chart exercise guide involving the Bodyblade. 

"Ab Crunch - Position Bodyblade so the flex of the blade will bend toward the floor and up toward the ceiling. When holding the blade in front of your body, you should see the narrow edge. Maintaining this position, moving high, or low will challenge lowr abs, upper abs, and lats. Try moving through a range of motion for advanced training. (1)"
"Back and Shoulder Reach - Hold Bodyblade so you can see the decal (flat edge). Raise over head and assume a wide stance. Slightly unlock the pelvis with an anterior pelvic tilt (slight hollow in back). This will enhance the entire trunk and extremities with great to the deep and superficial postural muscles. Add a little variety by rotating left and right or laterally flexing from side to side. (1)"


Last revised: October 6, 2009
by Jennifer Hill, MPT, CSCS & Chai Rasavong, MPT, MBA

 

REFERENCES
1. http://www.bodyblade.com
2. Moreside J et al. Trunk Muscle Activation Patterns, Lumbar Compressive Forces, and Spine Stability When Using the Bodyblade. Physical Therapy. Volume 87, No. 2, February 2007, pp 153-163.
3. Lister J et al. Scapular Stabilizer Activity During Bodyblade«, Cuff Weights, and Thera-Band« Use. The Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 16(1), February 2007, pp 50-67.



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