FACTS AND MYTHS OF VIBRATION EXERCISE THERAPY

August 13, 2008 · 2 Comments

Myth: Vibration exercise therapy is something new.

Fact: Vibration, in various forms, has been around for years. Local vibration has been used with the spinal cord population to fatigue muscles and decrease spasticity. Other forms of local vibration have been used to break up scar tissue adhesions, increase blood flow to the area and increase local mobility. As Chiropractors, we have been using localized vibration for years as an integral part of our practice. Vibration exercise therapy is just a novel alternative to generate global effects of vibration as part of an exercise program.

Myth: Whole body vibration has adverse effects similar to occupational whole body vibration.

Fact: Occupational vibration effects is determined by amount of dose of vibration per day and the frequency of that vibration. Vibration exercise therapy utilizes frequencies that are in the safe range. For example, frequencies of less than 20 HZ represents the resonance frequencies of the internal organs. This is why truck vibration contributed to so many low back problems. However, vibration exercise frequencies don’t go into this range. In addition, occupational vibration exposure is cumulative over time with several hours a day of dosage to produce any significant adverse effects. Vibration exercise therapy takes only 15 minutes per day, three times per week.

Myth: Vibration therapy is limited to athletic people that can handle the stress of vibration exercise.

Fact: Initially, vibration exercise therapy has been used by high level athletes to give them that extra edge in competition. However, more and more hospitals, therapy and chiropractic centers are starting to use vibration exercise therapy to increase function and decrease pain. New research is showing the positive effects that vibration therapy is having for the senior population, in addition to people that are compromised with any host of health issues. It’s shifting from the high level athlete to the individual that is unable to engage in conventional exercise due to physical limitations or conditions.

Myth: There is no research to support vibration exercise

Fact: Actually, more and more research is coming out every month in peer reviewed journals showing the positive effects of vibration therapy. In addition, research is being conducted at various North American universities, medical colleges and chiropractic colleges. The positive benefits seen in clinical practice is increasing the interest of the research community.

Myth: All vibration machines are the same.

Fact: As with any therapeutic modality, it is important to do your research into assessing which machine is the right one for you. Safety is extremely important, in addition to understanding that you are getting a consistent dose of exercise every time. Smaller, cheaper machines may not care about limiting lateral motion, which increases shearing forces on the joints. The primary point is that you get what you pay for. It’s important to assess how you will be using it in your practice, who you will be using it on and whether you require a high commercial use for high volume use or something smaller for occasional use.

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2 responses so far ↓

  •   Jerry Wilson // Jan 13th 2009 at 11:19 am

    Juvent, Inc. produces the only Canadian government approved Medical Device WBV platform. It operates at less than .3 g’s. World standards for allowable workplace exposure to whole body vibration. We engineered the Soloflex WBV Platform to fit within these standards; for the safety of our customers and because I didn’t want to go into court someday and explain why we ignored them. I’ve not heard of any injuries caused by the commercial WBV platforms that operate well above these allowable limits. I hope I never do. It will restrict the entire industry. Great website, by the way! Thanks.

  •   Dr. Jasper Sidhu // Jan 21st 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for the comment Jerry. There have been several different stances on vibration exercise and proper parameters. The good thing is, there are new research results coming out on a regular basis on the effects of vibration exercise on various medical conditions. What we are starting to find is that most parameters are showing positive results. I have talked to various researchers out there and there is a consensus that vibration IS effective. The next stage of research is to find what the optimal parameters are.

    You can compare this to conventional strength training. There are no specific exact parameters for strength training. However, there are protocols and progressions based upon proper physiological principles. In any rehabilitation setting, there is no ‘secret’ setting that will solve any problem. Understanding the right parameters is based upon clinical judgment and proper progression, while getting input from a patient every step of the way.

    When used by a trained professional, vibration training provide therapeutic benefits in a fraction of the time as conventional training, or becomes an effective compliment to conventional training.

    A great review article just came out in the journal Ageing Research Reviews by Rhonda Prisby (Effects of Whole body vibration on the skeleton and other organ systems in man and animal models: what we know and what we need to know). Conclusions were the same as my conversations with other researchers. Vibration exercise has shown to be beneficial in most of the frequency and amplitude settings that are on the market today. However, further research into proper protocols is essential. What works in the young population doesn’t necessarily work well in the older patient population, and vice versa.

    In conclusion, there is no argument that vibration has the positive effects that research is showing. It’s more to do with providing the health professional with the right tools and training necessary to effectively administer vibration exercise therapy.

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