Whole body vibration (WBV) refers to the transmission to the human body of low frequency environmental vibration in the range of 0.5 to 80 Hz through a broad contact area, such as the feet when standing, the buttocks when sitting, or the reclining body when in contact with the vibrating surface.
Whole body vibration may refer to vibration training, also known as vibration therapy, biomechanical stimulation (BMS), and biomechanical oscillation (BMO), a training method employing low amplitude, low frequency mechanical stimulation to exercise musculoskeletal structures for the improvement of muscle strength, power, and flexibility. Vibration training has been advocated as a therapeutic method in the treatment of osteoperosis, sarcopenia, and metabolic syndrome, and is used in the fitness industry, physical therapy, rehabilitation, professional sports, and beauty and wellness applications.
Whole body vibration may also refer to the vibration exposures found in many occupational settings such as heavy construction, forklift operation, vehicle operation, and farming. Occupational WBV exposure, especially when chronic, is suspected to cause adverse health effects such as fatigue, lower back pain, vision problems, interference with or irritation to the lungs, abdomen, or bladder, and adverse effects to the digestive, genital/urinary, and female reproductive systems. Mandatory standards for regulation and monitoring of worker exposure to WBV exist in Europe; in the U.S., there are reference standards but no specific regulations.
The immediate predecessor of modern vibration training is Rhythmic Neuromuscular Stimulation (RNS). In former East Germany Biermann was experimenting with the use of cyclic massage and its effects on trunk flexion back in the sixties (Biermann, 1960).
In that same era the Russian scientist Nazarov translated these findings into practical uses for athletes. He observed a substantial increase in flexibility and strength after the application of vibrations in the athletes he studied (Kunnemeyer & Smidtbleicher, 1997). The Russians also carried out experiments with "Biomechanical Stimulation" for the benefit of their athletes as well as in their space program. Unlike WBV devices on which the user stands, Biomechanical Stimulation uses vibration stimulation directly on muscles or tendons.
Due to the lack of gravity in space, astronauts and cosmonauts exhibited muscle atrophy (muscle impairment) and bone loss, which forces them to return to earth rather quickly. To prevent muscle and bone loss on long term mission the European Space Agency as well as the DLR are experimenting with various types of vibration training systems as a supplement to other fitness training.
Vibrating platform types
Vibrating platforms fall into different, distinct categories. The type of platform used is a moderator of the effect and result of the training or therapy performed (Marin PJ, Rhea MR, 2010). Main categories of machine types are: 1. High Energy Lineal, found mostly in commercial vibration training studios and gyms. The vibration direction is lineal/upward eliciting a strong stretch-reflex contraction in muscle fibres targeted by the positions of training program. 2. Premium Speed Pivotal, (teeter-totter movement) used for physiotherapy work at lower speeds and exercise workouts at “premium” speed, up to 30 Hz. Both commercial and home units are available. 3. Medium Energy Lineal, the majority of lineal platforms produced. These are usually made of plastic; some have 3-D vibration which is low quality. They give slower and less consistent results. 4. Low Speed Pivotal units. These can give “therapy” benefits. Other machine types are low Energy/Low amplitude lineal and Low energy/High amplitude lineal with varying uses from osteoporosis prevention, therapy for improved blood circulation and flexibility and limited fitness training.
In order to elicit a stretch reflex in the muscles, the major contributing factor to the training results that can be achieved with vibrating platforms, the up-down movement is the most important. The platform is vibrated upwards to work directly against gravity and therefore is called "hyper-gravity". High Energy Lineal Machines can overload the muscles up to 6 times(6G)in the upward phase; meaning the person on the platform is weight training using their own body mass.
The training frequency (Hz) is another of the important factors involved. The human body is designed to absorb vertical vibrations better due to the effects of gravity; however, many machines vibrate in more than one direction: sideways (x), front and back (y) and up and down (z). The z-axis has the largest amplitude and is the most defining component in generating and inducing muscle contractions.
Concerning the z-movements, two main types of system can be distinguished (Marin PJ et al. 2010,Rittweger 2010,Rauch 2010) :
Side alternating (pivotal) systems, operating like a see-saw and hence mimicking the human gait where one foot is always moving upwards and the other one downwards, and
Linear systems where the whole platform is mainly doing the same motion, respectively: both feet are moved upwards or downwards at the same time.
Systems with side alternation usually offer a larger amplitude of oscillation and a frequency range of about 5 Hz to 35 Hz. Linear/upright systems offer lower amplitudes but higher frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 50 Hz. Despite the larger amplitudes of side-alternating systems, the vibration (acceleration) transmitted to the head is significantly smaller than in non side-alternating systems (Abercromby et al. 2007). This difference can be a determining factor when choosing a platform for therapy versus training effects.
Mechanical stimulation generates acceleration forces acting on the body. These forces cause the muscles to lengthen, and this signal is received by the muscle spindle, a small organ in the muscle. This spindle transmits the signal through the central nervous system to the muscles involved (Abercromby et al. 2007,Burkhardt 2006).
Due to this subconscious contraction of the muscles, many more muscle fibers are used than in a conscious, voluntary movement (Issurin & Tenenbaum 1999). This is also obvious from the heightened EMG activity (Bosco et al. 1999,Delecluse et al. 2003).
Immediate and short term
More motor units (and the correlating muscle fibers) are activated under the influence of vibration than in normal, conscious muscle contractions. Due to this, muscles are incited more efficiently (Paradisis & Zacharogiannis 2007;Lamont et al. 2006;Cormie et al. 2006;Bosco et al. 1999,2000;Rittweger 2001,2002;Abercromby et al. 2005;Amonette et al. 2005). The immediate effect of WBV is therefore that the muscles can be used quickly and efficiently, rendering them capable of producing more force. However, this process will only be effective if the stimulus is not too intense and does not last too long, because otherwise performance will diminish due to fatigue.
Another immediate effect of WBV is an improvement of circulation. The rapid contraction and relaxation of the muscles at 20 to 50 times per second basically works as a pump on the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, increasing the speed of the blood flow through the body (Kerschan-Schindl et al. 2001;Lohman et al. 2007). Subjects often experience this as a tingling, prickling, warm sensation in the skin. Both Stewart (2005) and Oliveri (1989) describe the appearance of vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels) as a result of vibration.
In order to have any effect on the body in the long term it is vital that the body systems experience fatigue or some sort of light stress. As in other kinds of training, when the body is overloaded repeatedly and regularly, the principle of supercompensation applies. This principle is the cause of the body adapting to loading. In other words: performance will increase.
This effect has been proven several times in scientific research for both young and elderly subjects (Roelants et al. 2004,Delecluse et al. 2003,Verschueren et al. 2004,Paradisis et al. 2007). The only placebo-controlled study to date (Delecluse et al. 2003) concluded "specific Whole Body Vibration protocol of 5 weeks had no surplus value upon the conventional training program to improve speed-strength performance in sprint-trained athletes". Therefore there is no clear indication that the vibrations actually do have added value when performing static exercises.
From research into the structural effects of vibration training it can be deduced that the increased strength resulting from WBV training can definitely be compared to the results that can be attained with conventional methods of training. But there are indications that better results may be achieved with WBV in the area of explosive power (Delecluse et al. 2003).
Another important difference between conventional training methods and WBV is that there is only a minimum of loading. No additional weights are necessary, which ensures that there is very little loading to passive structures such as bones, ligaments and joints. That is why WBV is highly suited to people that are difficult to train due to old age, illness, disorders, weight or injury. On the other hand, it is also highly suitable for professional athletes who want to stimulate and strengthen their muscles without overloading joints and the rest of the physical system (Cochrane et al. 2005;Mahieu et al. 2006).
Other than its influence on the muscles, WBV can also have a positive effect on bone mineral density. Vibrations cause compression and remodeling of the bone tissue Mechanostat, activating the osteoblasts (bone building cells), while reducing the activity of the osteoclasts (cells that break bone down). Repeated stimulation of this system, combined with the increased pull on the bones by the muscles, will increase bone mineral density over time. It is also likely that improved circulation and the related bone perfusion due to a better supply of nutrients, which are also more able to penetrate the bone tissue, are contributing factors (Verschueren 2004,Jordan 2005,Olof Johnell & John Eisman, 2004,Rubin et al. 2004).
Furthermore the Berlin Bedrest Study (BBR) proved that 10 minutes of vibration training 6 times a week prevented muscle and bone loss in total bedrest over 55 days (Rittweger et al. 2004,Felsenberg et al. 2004,Bleeker et al. 2005,Blottner et al. 2006).
In preventing falls and the bone fractures that often result from them, enhancing bone mineral density is not the only important issue. Increased muscle power, postural control and balance are also factors worthy of consideration. Studies involving elderly subjects have shown that all of these issues can be improved using whole body vibration (Roelants et al. 2004,Bautmans et al. 2005,Bogaerts et al. 2007,Kawanabe et al. 2007).
Although much research has covered these areas (bone mineral density, circulation etc.), research currently only suggests an effect on weight loss when also reducing caloric intake. It is also not clear that the effects of whole body vibration can give similar results as that of regular exercise. In reality, vibration machines are not a replacement for weight loss and healthy living, and those under this impression are at a risk of neglecting their health. A study by Roelants et al. (2004) found that 24 weeks of whole body vibration did “not reduce weight, total body fat or subcutaneous fat in previously untrained females.”
A study on previous research findings completed in July 2012 found that no causality can be shown between whole-body vibration and abnormal spinal imaging findings.
^ abMarín, PJ; Rhea, MR (2010). "Effects of vibration training on muscle power: a meta-analysis.". Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association24 (3): 871–8. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c7c6f0. PMID20145554.
^Rittweger, J (2010). "Vibration as an exercise modality: how it may work, and what its potential might be.". European journal of applied physiology108 (5): 877–904. doi:10.1007/s00421-009-1303-3. PMID20012646.
^Rauch, F; Sievanen, H; Boonen, S; Cardinale, M; Degens, H; Felsenberg, D; Roth, J; Schoenau, E et al. (2010). "Reporting whole-body vibration intervention studies: recommendations of the International Society of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions.". Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions10 (3): 193–8. PMID20811143.|displayauthors= suggested (help)
^ abAbercromby, AF; Amonette, WE; Layne, CS; McFarlin, BK; Hinman, MR; Paloski, WH (2007). "Vibration exposure and biodynamic responses during whole-body vibration training.". Medicine and science in sports and exercise39 (10): 1794–800. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181238a0f. PMID17909407.
^Burkhardt A.: Vibrationstraining in der Physiotherapie - Wippen mit Wirkung, Physiopraxis 9/06, s.22.25, 2006
^Issurin, VB; Tenenbaum, G (1999). "Acute and residual effects of vibratory stimulation on explosive strength in elite and amateur athletes.". Journal of sports sciences17 (3): 177–82. doi:10.1080/026404199366073. PMID10362384.
^ abBosco, C; Cardinale, M; Tsarpela, O (1999). "Influence of vibration on mechanical power and electromyogram activity in human arm flexor muscles.". European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology79 (4): 306–11. doi:10.1007/s004210050512. PMID10090628.
^ abDelecluse, C; Roelants, M; Diels, R; Koninckx, E; Verschueren, S (2005). "Effects of whole body vibration training on muscle strength and sprint performance in sprint-trained athletes.". International journal of sports medicine26 (8): 662–8. doi:10.1055/s-2004-830381. PMID16158372.
^Lamont, Cramer, Gayaud, Acree, Bemben: Effects of different vibration interventions on indices of counter movement vertical jump performance in college aged males, Poster presentation ACSM, 2006
^Cormie, P; Deane, RS; Triplett, NT; McBride, JM (2006). "Acute effects of whole-body vibration on muscle activity, strength, and power.". Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association20 (2): 257–61. doi:10.1519/R-17835.1. PMID16686550.
^Bosco, C; Iacovelli, M; Tsarpela, O; Cardinale, M; Bonifazi, M; Tihanyi, J; Viru, M; De Lorenzo, A et al. (2000). "Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men.". European journal of applied physiology81 (6): 449–54. PMID10774867.|displayauthors= suggested (help)
^Rittweger, J; Schiessl, H; Felsenberg, D (2001). "Oxygen uptake during whole-body vibration exercise: comparison with squatting as a slow voluntary movement.". European journal of applied physiology86 (2): 169–73. doi:10.1007/s004210100511. PMID11822476.
^Rittweger, J; Ehrig, J; Just, K; Mutschelknauss, M; Kirsch, KA; Felsenberg, D (2002). "Oxygen uptake in whole-body vibration exercise: influence of vibration frequency, amplitude, and external load.". International journal of sports medicine23 (6): 428–32. doi:10.1055/s-2002-33739. PMID12215962.
^Abercromby, Amonette, Paloski, Hinman: Effect of knee flexion angle on neuromuscular responses to whole-body vibration, Abstract presented at NSCA National Conference, July 2005
^Amonette, W., A. Abercromby, M. Hinman, W.H. Paloski: Neuromuscular responses to two whole-body vibration modalities during dynamic squats, Abstract presented at NSCA National Conference, July 2005
^Lohman Eb, 3rd; Petrofsky, JS; Maloney-Hinds, C; Betts-Schwab, H; Thorpe, D (2007). "The effect of whole body vibration on lower extremity skin blood flow in normal subjects.". Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research13 (2): CR71–6. PMID17261985.
^Stewart, JM; Karman, C; Montgomery, LD; McLeod, KJ (2005). "Plantar vibration improves leg fluid flow in perimenopausal women.". American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology288 (3): R623–9. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00513.2004. PMID15472009.
^Oliveri, DJ; Lynn, K; Hong, CZ (1989). "Increased skin temperature after vibratory stimulation.". American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation / Association of Academic Physiatrists68 (2): 81–5. PMID2930643.
^ abRoelants, M; Delecluse, C; Verschueren, SM (2004). "Whole-body-vibration training increases knee-extension strength and speed of movement in older women.". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society52 (6): 901–8. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2004.52256.x. PMID15161453.
^ abVerschueren, SM; Roelants, M; Delecluse, C; Swinnen, S; Vanderschueren, D; Boonen, S (2004). "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 : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research19 (3): 352–9. doi:10.1359/JBMR.0301245. PMID15040822.
^Johnell, O; Eisman, J (2004). "Whole lotta shakin' goin' on.". Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research19 (8): 1205–7. doi:10.1359/JBMR.0315011. PMID15231005.
^Rubin, C; Recker, R; Cullen, D; Ryaby, J; McCabe, J; McLeod, K (2004). "Prevention of postmenopausal bone loss by a low-magnitude, high-frequency mechanical stimuli: a clinical trial assessing compliance, efficacy, and safety.". Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research19 (3): 343–51. doi:10.1359/JBMR.0301251. PMID15040821.
^Rittweger J., Felsenberg D.: Resistive vibration exercise prevents bone loss during 8 weeks of strict bed rest in healthy male subjects: results from the Berlin Bed Rest (BBR) study, 26th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research; October 2004; Seattle
^Bleeker, MW; De Groot, PC; Rongen, GA; Rittweger, J; Felsenberg, D; Smits, P; Hopman, MT (2005). "Vascular adaptation to deconditioning and the effect of an exercise countermeasure: results of the Berlin Bed Rest study.". Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)99 (4): 1293–300. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00118.2005. PMID15932956.
^Blottner, D; Salanova, M; Püttmann, B; Schiffl, G; Felsenberg, D; Buehring, B; Rittweger, J (2006). "Human skeletal muscle structure and function preserved by vibration muscle exercise following 55 days of bed rest.". European journal of applied physiology97 (3): 261–71. doi:10.1007/s00421-006-0160-6. PMID16568340.
^Bogaerts, A; Verschueren, S; Delecluse, C; Claessens, AL; Boonen, S (2007). "Effects of whole body vibration training on postural control in older individuals: a 1 year randomized controlled trial.". Gait & posture26 (2): 309–16. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2006.09.078. PMID17074485.
^Kawanabe, K; Kawashima, A; Sashimoto, I; Takeda, T; Sato, Y; Iwamoto, J (2007). "Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly.". The Keio journal of medicine56 (1): 28–33. doi:10.2302/kjm.56.28. PMID17392595.
Recommendations for reporting whole-body vibration intervention studies
Rauch F, Sievanen H, Boonen S, Cardinale M, Degens H, Felsenberg D, Roth J, Schoenau E, Verschueren S, Rittweger J (September 2010). "Reporting whole-body vibration intervention studies: recommendations of the International Society of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions". J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact10 (3): 193–8. PMID20811143.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
Albasini, Alfio; Krause, Martin; and Rembitzki, Ingo. (2010). Using Whole Body Vibration in Physical Therapy and Sport: Clinical Practice and Treatment Exercises. London: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 978-0-7020-3173-1.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO). (1997). ISO 2631-1:1997. Mechanical shock and vibration: Evaluation of human exposure to whole-body vibration — Part 1: General requirements. Geneva: International Organization for Standardization.
Mansfield, Neil J. (2005). Human Response to Vibration. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 0-415-28239-X.
Berlin BedRest-Study 1 - Zentrum für Muskel und Knochen (ZMK) Charité, Berlin, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA)