Whole body vibration

Whole body vibration

Whole Body Vibration: function and effectsWhole-Body Vibration (WBV) was developed by Russian scientist Vladimir Nazarov, to prevent astronauts muscles and bones wasting when they were in space. Because there is no gravitational force in space, muscles and bones are not loaded. Therefore astronauts, in space lose their muscular strength very quickly. That's why they are not able to walk when they come back to earth. At the same time, the density of the bones decreases, which increases the risk of bone fractions. This is the reason why it's not possible to stay in space for a longer period. The aerospace industry in the former soviet union worked with vibration training. Before their departure, astronauts were subjected to special training sessions so that the density of their bones would increase and their muscular strength would rise.

A specialist form of WBV is vibration training, which becoming increasingly popular. Initially, vibration training was mainly used in the fitness industry, but the use of vibration equipment is expanding quickly. It is now widely used in physical therapy, rehabilitation and professional sports, but it is also applied more and more often in the beauty and wellness branches.


What is Whole Body Vibration?

The first applications of vibration for the improvement of human performance were developed in ancient Greece; a saw covered in cotton was used as a tool to transmit mechanical vibrations to the part of the body that was not functioning properly. In the 1880's and 1890's, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was utilizing vibrating chairs, platforms and bars at his Battle Creek, Michigan sanitarium. These modalities were part of his "wellness" strategies for inpatient and outpatient populations.

The immediate predecessor of the modern vibration training is rhythmic neuromuscular stimulation (RNS). In former East Germany, Dr. Biermann was experimenting with the use of cyclic oscillations and their effects on the human body back in the sixties ("Biermann, 1960" Biermann, W.: "Influence of cycloid vibration massage on trunk flexion", American Journal of Physical Medicine, 1960, 39, pp. 219 – 224] ).

In that same era, the Russian scientist Nazarov translated these findings to practical uses for athletes. He observed a substantial increase in flexibility and strength in the athletes he studied after the application of vibrations ("Kunnemeyer & Smidtbleicher, 1997" Kunnemeyer J, Schmidtbleicher D.: "Die neuromuskulaire stimulation RNS", Leistungssport 2: 39-42, 1997.] ).The Russians also performed experiments with "Biomechanical Stimulation" for the benefit of their athletes as well as their space program. Unlike WBV devices on which the user stands Biomechanical Stimulation uses vibration stimulation directly on muscles or tendons.

RSI, the Russian Space Institute as well as ESA, the European Space Agency and NASA are experimenting with various types of Vibration Training Systems in order to get the ultimate benefits from the vibration stimulus. 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. For rehabilitation after elongated space flights Russian scientists experimented with Biomechanical Stimulation. Once the Iron Curtain had been dismantled, the West could finally profit from the information and experience that had been gathered in the previous years.

In 1996 the first Whole Body Vibration device was patented on which the user could stand. These devices allow the user to train almost the complete muscle chain used for walking and are currently widely used in sports, fitness and beauty, and also for rehabilitation and medical applications. Since 1996 more than 100 peer reviewed papers have been published on effects of WBV. Research is still continued all over the world in this still rather young but very active field of research.

How does Whole Body Vibration work?

As apparent from its name, in WBV, the entire body is exposed to vibration, as opposed to local vibration (Biomechanical Stimulation, BMS), where an isolated muscle or muscle group is stimulated by the use of a vibration device. Whole body vibration is implemented through the use of a vibrating platform on which exercises can be performed. The vibrations generated by the engines underneath the platform are transmitted to the person standing, sitting or lying on the machine. The intensity and the direction of these vibrations are essential for their effect. Different vibration platforms have different vibration characteristics. Not all platforms perform in the same manner, and that is why the results of using them are different.

In order to elicit a stretch reflex in the muscles, the major contributing factor to the training results that can be achieved with vibration platforms, the up-down movement is the most important. Remember that human bodies are designed to absorb vertical vibrations better due to the effects of gravity. However, many machines vibrate in three different directions: sideways (x), front and back (y) and up and down (z), which could cause significant side effects after prolonged time of use. The z-axis has the largest amplitude and is the most defining component in generating and inducing muscle contractions. Concerning the z-movements two principle types of systems can be distinguished: side alternating systems, operating like a see-saw and hence mimicking the human gait where always one foot is moving upwards and the other one downwards and systems where the whole platform is mainly doing the same motion respectively both feet are moved upwards or downwards at the same time ("Abercromby et al 2007" Abercromby AF, Amonette WE, Layne CS, McFarlin BK, Hinman MR, Paloski WH.: "Vibration Exposure and Biodynamic Responses during Whole-Body Vibration Training", Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Oct;39(10):1794-1800, PMID 17909407] ; "Burkhard 2006"Burkhardt A.: "Vibrationstraining in der Physiotherapie - Wippen mit Wirkung", Physiopraxis 9/06, s.22.25, 2006] ). Systems with side alternation offer a larger amplitude of oscillation and a frequency range of about 5 Hz to 35 Hz the other systems offer lower amplitudes but higher frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 50 Hz. Despite the larger Amplituides of side-alternating systems the vibration (acceleration) transmitted to the head is signifficantly lower then in non side-alternating systems ("Abercromby et al 2007").

The mechanical stimulation generates acceleration forces working 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. Due to this subconscious contraction of the muscles, many more muscle fibers are used than in a conscious, voluntary movement ("Issurin & Tenenbaum 1999" Issurin VB, Tenenbaum G.: "Acute and residual effects of vibratory stimulation on explosive strength in elite and amateur athletes", J Sports Sci. 1999 Mar;17(3):177-82, PMID 10362384 ] ). This is also obvious from the heightened EMG activity "Bosco et al. 1999" Bosco C, Cardinale M, Tsarpela O.: "Influence of vibration on mechanical power and electromyogram activity in human arm flexor muscles", Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Mar;79(4):306-11, PMID 10090628] , "Delecluse et al 2003" Delecluse C, Roelants M, Verschueren S.: "Strength increase after whole-body vibration compared with resistance training", Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Jun;35(6):1033-41, PMID 12783053] ).

Training Effects of Vibration

Immediate and short term effects of WBV

Because more muscle fibers (also known as motor units) are activated under the influence of vibration than in normal, conscious muscle contractions the muscles are incited more efficiently ("Paradisis & Zacharogiannis 2007" [Delecluse C, Roelants M, Diels R, Koninckx E, Verschueren S.: "Effects of whole body vibration training on muscle strength and sprint performance in sprint-trained athletes", Int J Sports Med. 2005 Oct;26(8):662-8, PMID 16158372] ; "Lamont et al. 2006" [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 et al 2006" [Cormie P, Deane RS, Triplett NT, McBride JM.: "Acute effects of whole-body vibration on muscle activity, strength, and power", J Strength Cond Res. 2006 May;20(2):257-61, PMID 16686550] ; ; "Bosco et al. 1999" , "2000" [Bosco C, Iacovelli M, Tsarpela O, Cardinale M, Bonifazi M, Tihanyi J, Viru M, De Lorenzo A, Viru A.: "Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men", Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Apr;81(6):449-54, PMID 10774867] ; "Rittweger 2001" [Rittweger J, Schiessl H, Felsenberg D: Oxygen uptake during whole-body vibration exercise: comparison with squatting as a slow voluntary movement, Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Dec;86(2):169-73, PMID 11822476] , "2002" [Rittweger J, Ehrig J, Just K, Mutschelknauss M, Kirsch KA, Felsenberg D: Oxygen uptake in whole-body vibration exercise: influence of vibration frequency, amplitude, and external load, Int J Sports Med. 2002 Aug;23(6):428-32, PMID 12215962] ; "Abercromby et al. 2005" [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 et al. 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] ). 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" [Kerschan-Schindl K, Grampp S, Henk C, Resch H, Preisinger E, Fialka-Moser V, Imhof H.: "Whole-body vibration exercise leads to alterations in muscle blood volume", Clin Physiol. 2001 May;21(3):377-82, PMID 11380538] ; "Lohman et al. 2007" [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", Med Sci Monit. 2007 Feb;13(2):CR71-6, PMID 17261985] ). Subjects often experience this as a tingling, prickling, warm sensation in the skin. Both Stewart (2005 [Stewart JM, Karman C, Montgomery LD, McLeod KJ.: "Plantar vibration improves leg fluid flow in perimenopausal women", Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):R623-9. Epub 2004 Oct 7, PMID 15472009] ) and Oliveri (1989 [Oliveri DJ, Lynn K, Hong CZ.: "Increased skin temperature after vibratory stimulation", Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1989 Apr;68(2):81-5, PMID 2930643] ) describe the appearance of vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels) as a result of vibration

Long term effects of WBV

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 will occur. 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" Roelants M, Delecluse C, Verschueren SM.: "Whole-body-vibration training increases knee-extension strength and speed of movement in older women", J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 Jun;52(6):901-8, PMID 15161453] , "Delecluse et al 2003" , "Verschueren et al 2004" Verschueren SM, Roelants M, Delecluse C, Swinnen S, Vanderschueren D, Boonen S.: "Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot study", J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Mar;19(3):352-9. Epub 2003 Dec 22, PMID 15040822] , "Paradisis et al 2007" [Delecluse C, Roelants M, Diels R, Koninckx E, Verschueren S.: "Effects of whole body vibration training on muscle strength and sprint performance in sprint-trained athletes", Int J Sports Med. 2005 Oct;26(8):662-8, PMID 16158372] ). 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 deducted 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 the passive structures such as bones, ligaments and joints. That is why WBV is extremely suited to people that are difficult to train due to old age, disease, disorders, weight or injury. On the other hand, it is also very 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" [Cochrane D.J., Stannard S.R.: "Acute whole body vibration training increases vertical jump and flexibility performance in elite female field hockey players", British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2005, Vol. 39, S. 860-865, PMID 16244199] ; "Mahieu et al 2006" [Mahieu NN, Witvrouw E, Van de Voorde D, Michilsens D, Arbyn V, Van den Broecke W: "Improving strength and postural control in young skiers: whole-body vibration versus equivalent resistance training", J Athl Train. 2006 Jul-Sep;41(3):286-93, PMID 17043697] ).

Other than its influence on the muscles, WBV can also have a positive effect on bone mineral density. The vibrations cause compression and remodeling of the bone tissue MechanostatFrost H.M.: "The Utah Paradigm of Skeletal Physiology Vol. 1", ISMNI [http://www.ismni.org/|ISMNI] , 1960] Frost H.M.: "The Utah Paradigm of Skeletal Physiology Vol. 2", ISMNI [http://www.ismni.org/|ISMNI] , 1960] [Frost H.M.: "Defining Osteopenias and Osteoporoses: Another View (With Insights From a New Paradigm)", Bone Vol. 20, No. 5, Mai 1997, S.385-391 PMID 9145234] [Felsenberg D.: "Struktur und Funktion des Knochens". Pharmazie in unserer Zeit 30(6), S. 488 - 493 (2001), ISSN 0048-3664] , 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 the 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" [Jordan J.: "Good vibrations and strong bones?", Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):R555-6., PMID 15699358, [http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/288/3/R555 Full Text (PDF)] ] , "Olof Johnell & John Eisman, 2004" [Johnell O, Eisman J.: "Whole lotta shakin' goin' on", J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Aug;19(8):1205-7. Epub 2004 Apr 5, PMID 15231005] , "Rubin et al. 2004" [Rubin C, Recker R, Cullen D, Ryaby J, McCabe J, McLeod K.: "Prevention of postmenopausal bone loss by a low-magnitude, high-frequency mechanical stimuli: a clinical trial assessing compliance, efficacy, and safety", J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Mar;19(3):343-51. Epub 2003 Dec 22, PMID 15040821] ).

Further more 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" 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] , "Felsenberg et al 2004" Felsenberg D.: " [http://www.charite.de/zmk/kongress_fuer_web/statement_felsenberg-ergebnisseBBR.pdf Ergebnisse der Berliner BedRest-Studie] ", Knochen & Muskel - Neue Welten, 18. November 2004, ZMK, Charite Berlin>] , "Bleeker et al 2005" Bleeker MW, De Groot PC, Rongen GA, Rittweger J, Felsenberg D, Smits P, Hopman MT: "Vascular adaptation to deconditioning and the effect of an exercise countermeasure: results of the Berlin Bed Rest study", J Appl Physiol. 2005 Oct;99(4):1293-300. Epub 2005 Jun 2, PMID 15932956] , "Blottner et al 2006" [Blottner D., Salanova M., Püttmann B., Schiffl G., Felsenberg D., Buehring B., Rittweger J.: Human skeletal muscle structure and function preserved by vibration muscle exercise following 55 days of bed rest, Eur J. Appl Physiol, 2006, Vol. 97, S. 261-271, PMID 16568340] ).

In preventing falls and the bone fractures that they often result in, enhancing bone mineral density is not the only important issue. Increased muscle power, postural control and balance are also considerable factors. 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" [Bautmans I, Van Hees E, Lemper JC, Mets T.: "The feasibility of Whole Body Vibration in institutionalised elderly persons and its influence on muscle performance, balance and mobility: a randomised controlled trial", BMC Geriatr. 2005 Dec 22;5:17, PMID 16372905] , "Bogaerts et al 2007" [Bogaerts A, Verschueren S, Delecluse C, Claessens AL, Boonen S.: "Effects of whole body vibration training on postural control in older individuals: a 1 year randomized controlled trial", Gait Posture. 2007 Jul;26(2):309-16. Epub 2006 Oct 30, PMID 17074485] , "Kawanabe et al 2007" [Kawanabe K, Kawashima A, Sashimoto I, Takeda T, Sato Y, Iwamoto J.: "Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly", Keio J Med. 2007 Mar;56(1):28-33, PMID 17392595] ).


External links

* [http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM4EJXJD1E_Germany_0.html Berlin BedRest-Study 1] - Zentrum für Muskel und Knochen (ZMK) Charité, Berlin, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA)
* [http://www.charite.de/zmk/BBR2/ Berlin BedRest-Study 2] - Zentrum für Muskel und Knochen (ZMK) Charité, Berlin, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

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