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Whole body vibration therapy for fibromyalgia pain

26th March 2015


6 weeks of traditional exercise coupled with supplementary whole body vibration training was found to be effective in improving the strength and health status of women suffering from fibromyalgia.

The study conducted by researchers at the Department of Physical Activity and Sport, University of Seville (Spain) investigated the effects of vibration exercises on 30 postmenopausal women, which were divided in two groups: one performed regular exercises 2 days a week and whole body vibration exercises 3 days a week, while the control group only performed conventional training, with no vibration workouts.

In the intervention group, the whole body vibration routine consisted in three sets of 45s of bilateral squats, at a frequency of 20Hz and an amplitude of 3 mm, and four sets of unilateral static squats at 20 Hz and 2 mm amplitude.

Results showed significant improvements in the overall health status and muscle strength of participants, the effects being more profound in the vibration group. This suggests that patients with fibromyalgia may gain additional benefits by engaging in a supplementary vibration training program.

Similar results were obtained by a group of scientists from the University of Barcelona, who found whole body vibration to be efficient in reducing pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia. Their study, published in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, showed that 6 weeks of vibration training and conventional aerobic exercise can lead to an improvement in the main symptoms of fibromyalgia – pain and fatigue.

Researchers at the School of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis have also tested the efficiency of vibration exercises in reducing the pain and improving quality of life in patients affected by this condition. Their pilot study involved 24 women with fibromyalgia, most of them overweight and sedentary.

One group performed a series of resistance exercises twice a week, for 8 weeks, their routine focusing mostly on the lower body and lasting for 15-30 minutes per session. The second group was used as control, while the third group performed the same exercises as group no.1, but on a vibration machine. Results showed that the vibration group experienced the most significant improvements in pain severity scores and quality of life.

What is fibromyalgia and what are its symptoms?


A clinical condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness, fibromyalgia manifests through fatigue and sleep problems, depressive episodes and anxiety, being a complex condition that affects one’s physical and emotional health.

More present in women than in men, fibromyalgia affects about 5% of females, being the third most common rheumatic disorder after low back pain and osteoarthritis. While the condition can manifest alone, it is usually associated with other health problems, like chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity and migraines.

The manifestations of this condition can appear after physical trauma, infections, exposure to high levels of stress or after surgery, but I most sufferers the symptoms accumulate over time and are not triggered by a specific event.

While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, there are various treatments that can help in keeping symptoms under control. Both pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies can be applied for diminishing the pain and fatigue, but of all the available therapies exercise has shown the strongest evidence of efficacy.

Although resistance training appears to improve muscle strength and reduce pain and fatigue in fibromyalgia patients, lots of people affected by this ailment fail in sticking with a strength training program. Whole body vibration exercises on the other hand have better adherence rates, as they take less time and the patient’s effort is also reduced compared to conventional workouts.

Along with exercise, relaxation and stress-reduction measures may also help in controlling the symptoms of fibromyalgia and minimizing its effects one’s overall health and well-being.

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