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Using Vibration Platforms For Rehabilitation and Restoration of Bone, Muscle and Health

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Author: Helen Eames

Using Vibration Platforms For Rehabilitation and Restoration of Bone, Muscle and Health
By Helen Eames

Whole Body VibratioEamesn Technology (WBVT) has been touted as the next generation exercise and weight loss machine and has been credited with some amazing claims. This paper is to redefine and define those claims and validate the existing credible research into this technology.

Historically speaking WBVT first began in 1857,
is backed by over 40 years of research and was originally developed to prevent and treat bone and lean muscle loss in cosmonauts who amassed time in a weightless environment. We begin by delving into the history of WBVT and onto creditable research and studies into the fitness and health benefits of using vibration techonology.

Vibration therapy is not new, originally developed by a Swedish doctor,
Dr. Gustav Zander who build and tested over 70 different types of exercise machines some of which were based on vibration exercise. In the 1960's Dr John Kellogg the originator of Kelloggs Cornflakes also developed a 'shaker' which he claimed could cure constipation, headaches and back pain.

Whole body Vibration Technology was developed and refined by Russian scientists who began the real studies of Whole Body Vibration used the technology for many years to rehabilitate their cosmonauts after returning from space to help restore atrophied muscles and bone density compromised due to the weightless environment of space.

Many of these cosmonauts were so weak they needed
assistance emerging from the aircraft and Russian scientists were called in to come up with a therapy that could focussed on hyper-gravitational force to mimic a gravitational field in space.

The vibration platform and Whole Body Vibration Technology was born and researchers were astounded to find that it not only stopped the loss, but also increased bone density and strengthened muscle tissue. They then used this technology to prevent injury to and rehabilitate their Olympic athletes from injury and found that it could almost halve the recuperation time. Since this time WBVT has spread to the world and even NASA has incorporated vibration technology into their space program. NASA-funded scientists suggest that astronauts might prevent bone loss by standing on a lightly vibrating plate for 10 to 20 minutes each day. Held down with the aid of elastic straps, the astronauts could keep working on other tasks while they vibrate.The same therapy, they say, might eventually be used to treat some of the millions of people who suffer from bone loss, called osteoporosis, here on Earth. (NASA)

WBVT is now used in rehabilitation and physio-therapy clinics
in Europe and the US and is now filtering into to the rest of the world on a wave of interest and marketing. Now used to treat many health challenges, scientists are documenting positive changes in more and more health related challenges by the day including; osteoporosis, loss of muscle tone in MS, Parkinson's Disease and even various forms of paralysis, back pain, pain, ankle and knee injuries, arthritis, emphysema, stroke recovery, varicose veins, and cerebral palsy just to name a few.By standing on the plate, the vibration generates systematic involuntary muscle contraction through out the body, which not only increases your flexibility but also burns fat by increasing your metabolism while it improves your circulation and provides your cells with ideal oxygen and nutrient delivery to slow the degenerative process.The platform drops either 2 or 4 mm. This is a very small and gentle drop. For example, let's say that you are standing on the vibration plate with a gentle knee bend.


Once the platform drops 2 mm, your muscle is quickly lengthened, or 'stretched'. The body reacts to this by quickly contracting the muscle. By the time it does that, the platform is already back at the first position. The platform drops again and this is repeated. Since the platform has been designed to do this 20 to 50 times per second, you can get a maximum of 50 muscle contractions per second! In one minute, you can actually get 3000 safe and gentle muscle contractions. This is the equivalent to doing 3000 knee bends. In addition to these muscle contractions, vibration exercise is also able to work more of the muscles.

Because the vibration effect makes the muscles contract involuntarily, all muscles that are being exercised will be activated. In fact, with regular training such as weight lifting, only 40% of your muscles will be working. With vibration exercise, that number can reach nearly 100%. Not only will you get more muscle contractions in a short period of time, but also more of your muscles will be working during this time. All this leads to vibration exercise being a safe and fast way to exercise effectively.Research published in the American Journal of bone Mineral Research has shown that vibration technology can lead to an increase in bone density similar to that achieved by weight-bearing exercises normally prescribed for osteoporosis. WBVT is delivering results in less time and with less stress on older patients and can even be used safely in aged care homes.

In addition to the increase in bone density the research
also showed that the acceleration training led to an improvement in postural control and balance. These effects can help to reduce the risk of falls and therefore reduce the risk of broken bones in osteoporosis patients."After twelve weeks of steady use once, twice or three times per week with 20 subjects, including myself, I am happy to share with you the very positive effects my clients and I have enjoyed due to use of the Power Plate:

1. Increased endocrine balance ...

2. Increased range of motion ...

3. Improved circulation and lymphatic return ...

4. Rapid growth of lean muscle ...

5. Improved proprioception, balance, righting and tilting reflexes ...

6. Loss of subcutaneous fat ...

7. While my clients hope to see, over time, reversal of bone loss, they have baseline bone density measurements to compare to ...

8. Pain reduction ...

9. Increased energy ...

After the 2-month exercise program, the walking speed, step length, and the maximum standing time on one leg were significantly improved in the WBV exercise plus routine exercises group, while no significant changes in these parameters were observed in the routine exercises alone group. Thus, the present study showed the beneficial effect of WBV exercise in addition to muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises in improving the walking ability in the elderly. WBV exercise was safe and well tolerated in the elderly. (Kawanabe K. et al, 2007) Please see reference list for more research into bone density.

Whole body vibration has demonstrated positive effects on blood flow.
Gentle rapid contractions, repeated at a high rate, allow the muscle to work as a pump, resulting in increased blood flow within the peripheral circulatory system. This results in the body carrying off waste products much faster, thereby enhancing recovery. Effects of vibration therapy on circulatory system include:

Enhanced peripheral and systemic blood flow
Enhanced peripheral lymphatic flow
Increased venous drainage

A study by the Dept of Physical Therapy Loma Linda University found that short duration vibration sessions significantly increased skin blood flow and hails WBVT as an emerging therapeutic modality. (Lohman E. et al; 1985)

Aged care is not simply about extending life years, but increasing the quality of life. 'Functional age' is much more important that 'chronological age.' This is interpreted as the ability of an individual to maintain certain parameters as they age, such as strength, balance, and agility. Exercise has shown significant benefits in combating some of these problems.

Aging and Inactivity

Muscle loss occurs at a rate of 1% per year after the age of 40
Bone density is correlated with muscle strength. Decreases in muscle mass and strength can affect bone density
Loss of muscle strength may increase risk of falls and fractures

To implement an exercise program for the aging population,
it must be safe, gentle, and effective. Whole body vibration has attracted increased attention as an exercise alternative to combat the effects of inactivity and aging. Current research has shown positive benefits. These results have led to continuing research around the world, reinforcing vibration exercise's role in promoting healthy aging. (Kawanabe K. et al; 2007)

Aging and Vibration Exercise

Improvement in chair rising test, indicative of improvement in muscle power
Improve elements of fall risk and health-related quality of life
Ability to promote ambulatory competence (improved walking) in elderly women
Beneficial for balance and mobility in nursing home residents with limited functional dependency high compliance with vibration exercise

A study on nursing home residents using Vibrational Technology to enhance balance and mobility concluded with this statement: "In nursing home residents with limited functional dependency, six weeks static WBVT exercise is feasible, and is beneficial for balance and mobility. The supplementary benefit of WBVT on muscle performance compared to classic exercise remains to be explored further." (Bautmans I. et al; 2005)

Scientific principles underlying vibration training:

Myotatic Stretch Reflex
Tonic Vibration Reflex
Neurological Adaptation to Exercise
Excitation of the GTO (Golgi Tendon Organ)
Optimal Recruitment of Motor Units
Force and power output through increased acceleration
Stretch-Shortening-Cycle (SSC) Model
Effects on the Hormonal System •    Effects on the Circulatory System
Effect on the skeletal system through Wolff's Law adaptation, shifting the force/velocity curve to the right (faster strength gains)

In summary it could be said that WBVT holds promise as a significant tool for physiotherapists, sport injury specialists and rehabilitation clinics. It use in such places is certainly warranted and more research should be encouraged to further the documentation of positive health and fitness benefits for any age of person and many health challenged individuals.


Barry, Patrick L. quot;Good Vibrations: A New Treatment Under Study by NASA-funded Doctors Could Reverse Bone Loss Experienced by Astronauts in Space." Science @ NASA Web site, Nov. 2, 2001.

Bone Density:

Clinton Rubin, Robert Recker, Diane Cullen, John Ryaby, Joan McCabe,and Kenneth McLeod4JOURNAL OF BONE AND MINERAL RESEARCHVolume 19, Number 3, 2004Published online on December 22, 2003; doi: 10.1359/JBMR.0301251© 2004 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

Kawanabe K., A. Kawashima, I. Sashimoto, T. Takeda, Y. Sato, and J. Iwamoto, (2007). "Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly." Keio Journal of Medicine. 2007 Mar. 56(1): 28-33.

Verschueren, S., M. Roelants, C. Delecluse, S. Swinnen, D. Vanderschueren and S. Boonen. "Effect of 6-Month Whole Body Vibration Training on Hip Density, Muscle Strength, and Postural Control in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study." Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Vol. 19, March 2004, pg. 352-359.


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. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. PMID: 11380538 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]Lohman EB 3rd, Petrofsky JS, Maloney-Hinds C, Betts-Schwab H, Thorpe D. The effect of whole body vibration on lower extremity skin blood flow in normal subjects. Department of Physical Therapy, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA. PMID: 17261985 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Aging and Geriatric Care

Bautmans I, Van Hees E, Lemper JC, Mets T. (2005) The feasibility of Whole Body Vibration in institutionalised elderly persons and its influence on muscle performance, balance and mobility: a randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN62535013]. PMID: 16372905 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


John G. Gianutsos, PhD, Liisa C. Oakes, BA, Vincent Siasoco, MD, Stacy Appelblatt, MS, PT, Juliana Hamel, MS, PT, Joan T. Gold, MD (2001) "Motor rehabilitation of spinal cord dysfunction by means of whole body vibration" (NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY)

Helen Eames owns 'balancenoosa'
an innovative business whose motto is, "wellness that comes to you" set in the heart of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Qld. Australia. 'balancenoosa' specialises in bringing specialist in different disciplines to your premises, allowing you to book the session of your choice. The balancenoosa website has also become a hub of quality information and products and more information on this article can be found at:

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 FLEXI-BAR With as little as 30-45 minutes exercise per week

FLEXI-BAR With as little as 30-45 minutes exercise per week



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