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7 Applications of Whole Body Vibration Therapy

24th July 2015

Whole body vibration therapy is different from WBV training. The former is used for treatment purposes, while the latter is used mainly for fitness and beauty purposes. Studies have demonstrated that vibration therapy has multiple applications and may improve the quality of life in people suffering from various conditions, so today, we’ll look at seven uses of WBV therapy.

1. WBV therapy improves functional exercise capacity in COPD patients

People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may have difficulty practicing conventional exercises, as their lungs are damaged, and their breathing capacity is significantly reduced. The supply of blood to all cells and organs decreases, and the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, along with the accumulation of mucus, can cause the airways to become clogged, leading to unpleasant symptoms like wheezing, difficult breathing and shortness of breath, persistent cough, and pneumonia.

The headaches, fatigue, and persistent cough may interfere with one’s ability and desire to perform physical exercise and may increase the risk of a sedentary lifestyle. However, just because one can’t practice intense exercise doesn’t mean they should give up training for good. Chinese researchers have found that exercising on vibration machines may improve the functional training capacity and the quality of life in COPD sufferers.

Their review study, published in the Clinical Rehabilitation journal, showed that in 206 participants, vibration training improved the mentioned parameters, although the pulmonary function was not improved or significantly affected.

2. Reduced tremor and muscle stiffness in Parkinson’s disease patients after WBV training

Another application of WBV therapy is in Parkinson’s disease. Studies show that exercises done on a vibration platform may improve the symptoms and reduce the tremor of limbs and stiffness of muscles, improving one’s quality of life.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system with no known cure. The available treatments effectively reduce the symptoms but without curing them completely. This disease can be debilitating as it prevents one from performing movements that require precision and may also affect speech and facial expression. Parkinson’s disease causes stiff muscles, joint pain, fatigue, general weakness, balance, and coordination issues.

A study published by Canadian researchers in the journal of NeuroRehabilitation showed that vibration exercises can reduce the tremor and decrease the muscle rigidity, improving the step length of Parkinson’s disease sufferers.

3. WBV improves glycemic control in diabetes patients

Researchers from the Islamic Azad University, Tehran, found that eight weeks of vibration therapy can lead to a significant reduction in fasting glucose in people living with diabetes type 2, the effects obtained with WBV being similar to those obtained with conventional exercises. This study involved 30 patients who performed regular exercises or vibration platform exercises for 30-60 minutes a day, respectively 8-12 minutes a day.

The vibration therapy group not only spent less time exercising but showed improvements in their metabolic rate, just like the group that performed conventional aerobic exercises at an intensity of 60%-70% of their maximum heartbeat. Scientists concluded that whole body vibration therapy could be an effective replacement for conventional workouts in diabetes type 2 people who lack the stamina for other forms of physical activity.

4. Improved body composition and muscle strength in obese women

For obese people, practicing regular exercises may mean exposing themselves to a great risk of injury, especially if we refer to aerobic or cardio workouts that put a lot of stress on joints. Whole body vibration therapy is a low-impact solution for obese patients who can’t exercise and has been shown to help in improving body composition and muscle strength.

Scientists from the University of Verona, Italy, investigated the effects of 10 weeks of vibration therapy (2 sessions per week) in obese people, showing that exercising on a vibration platform for as little as 14 minutes per day can lead to a significant reduction in body fat and stronger and leaner muscles.

5. WBV improves flexibility and power performance in metabolic syndrome sufferers

Caused by inactivity and obesity and linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes and affect one’s organism in profound ways. The condition manifests through an increased production of cortisol, which leads to weight gain, especially in the waist area, and increased urination and thirst, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Vibration therapy activates the muscles, and leads to improved strength and power performance, having similar effects to conventional strength training. Also, this form of physical activity increases flexibility in patients with metabolic syndrome, being a safe and time-efficient treatment solution.

6. Rehabilitation for stroke survivors with vibration exercises

Scientists from the Republic of Korea published an article in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science showing that whole body vibration therapy improves sitting balance in stroke sufferers. The protocol consisted of 4 weeks of vibration exercises performed for 15 minutes per day, five times per week.

The 30 participants were divided into two groups, the one who performed vibration exercises showing more significant improvements than the group who practiced general rehabilitation exercises alone. Researchers concluded that WBV might be a feasible and efficient treatment option for improving posture in stroke survivors.

7. More flexible joints and better muscle tone in kids with cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy occurs in kids aged 2 to 3, a common cause of brain abnormality and damage. Symptoms include impaired muscle tone, movement, motor skills, stiff muscles, poor balance and coordination problems, uncontrolled body movements, visual impairments, sleep, and speech problems in more severe cases.

A study published in the journal of Research in Developmental Disabilities showed that whole body vibration therapy could improve muscle tone, the range of motion in joints, and the ambulatory performance in kids with cerebral palsy. Participants underwent eight weeks of WBV therapy, with three whole body vibration sessions per week (10min/session).

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If you’re not familiar with whole body vibration yet, check out the complete WBV series or take a look at the video below, to understand how WBV works.

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