Lack of exercise and aging contribute to reduced muscle mass, bone density, and skeletal and muscle dysfunction. One physical therapy treatment that combats these effects, with better overall outcomes, is whole body vibration. It is also a great treatment for various other conditions and situations, too.

Whole body vibration is a form of resistance training based on mechanical stimulation by way of a vibration platform.

According to a study by Cerciello et al., published in Muscles and Tendons, 2016, common applications where whole body vibration is used include pain control, improvement of muscle force and flexibility, reducing the onset of muscle fatigue, and to accelerate rehabilitation.

whole-body-vibration Whole Body Vibration for Increased Muscle Mass, Bone Density & Physical FunctionHistory of Whole Body Vibration

According to KIMA Wellness, vibration has been used since the late 1800s and was first explored in more depth by the sports scientist Dr. Vladimir Nazarov in the late 1960s/ early 1970s. The treatment was then applied to ballet, along with being used in NASA “for the maintenance of muscle strength, muscle mass, and bone density in low gravity environments.”

The first commercial platform emerged in 1996 and since then vibration therapy has been used widely, more than 600 studies indicating a variety of benefits of its use. Since the first commercial developments, there has been no change to how vibration is delivered.

Whole Body Vibration Platforms

According to KIMA Wellness, there are two types of vibration platforms:

Pivotal – provides a seesaw-like motion, placing a vertically directed force in an alternating pattern on the area being worked. For example, one leg, then the other.

pivotal-diagram Whole Body Vibration for Increased Muscle Mass, Bone Density & Physical Function

Featured Image Credit: KIMA Wellness

Linear – provides an up and down motion, placing vertically directed force on both legs (or arms) at the same time.

lineal-diagram Whole Body Vibration for Increased Muscle Mass, Bone Density & Physical Function

Featured Image Credit: KIMA Wellness

Clinical Applications and Benefits of Whole Body Vibration

The study by Cerciello et al., outline the clinical applications and benefits as follows:

Muscle training – improves neural activity, muscle power and muscle performance.

Delayed muscle soreness – reduces both muscle soreness and tightness, decreases inflammation, increases muscle oxygenation and blood flow.

Elderly patients – increases muscle strength and flexibility, improves muscle activation, improves balance, stability and directional control, improves joint specific outcomes such as increased knee-extension strength and speed of movement, and increased hip adduction and abduction.

Children – improved muscle function.

Bone metabolism – improves bone circulation by increasing the supply of nutrients needed to build bones, promotes osteoclast formation and cell communication. The increased bone mass density achieved ranges from 0.5-6.3%.

Multiple other studies have also shown increased growth hormone secretion, reduced circulating cortisol and reduced bone resorption.