Is Whole Body Vibration an Effective Osteoporosis Treatment Option?

by Margaret Martin on February 20, 2011

in Osteoporosis Exercise Equipment

Is whole body vibration (WBV) an effective osteoporosis treatment option? Does whole body vibration build bone?

WBV machines from companies such as Juvent and WAVE can get quite pricey – they can range in price between $2,000 and $10,000. Are they worth the price?

A study review that was conducted in 2009 and several new research studies shed some light into the effectiveness of whole body vibration for people with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis.

Is Whole Body Vibration an Effective Osteoporosis Treatment?

whole-body-vibration

WBV Platform

According to Totosy de Zepetnek and associates at the University of Waterloo, the studies examining whole-body vibration as potential intervention for people with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis indicate that the effectiveness of WBV is somewhat inconclusive.(1)

Since their review in 2009, several more recent studies that are not yet published and were presented at the 2010 American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) in Toronto, have failed to show much bone enhancement with standing passively on a whole body vibration platform.

Does Whole Body Vibration Affect Bone Density?

The first study (2) looked at the effect of bone density and bone structure in post-menopausal women. Whole body vibration platforms were loaned out to participants, mean age of 67, who stood on the platforms for 20 minutes daily for an entire year.  Two different frequencies were studied: 30 Hz and 90 Hz with peak vertical acceleration of 0.3g.

This study showed that neither frequency altered bone mineral density (BMD) or bone structure in postmenopausal women with osteopenia.

The second study (3) looked at vibration on bone health in healthy younger women, mean age 24 years.  The peak vertical acceleration was 0.2g, and the frequency was 30 Hz.  Participants stood on the platforms for two 10 minute sessions per day (separated by ≥ 3 hours), 5 days a week, for six months.

This study showed that the whole body vibration did not increase the density or quality of bone.

But, Whole Body Vibration Can Have Other Positive Effects

However, when looking beyond bone, studies that supplement strength training with standing on a vibrating platform (4)  or have people exercising on a vibration platform (5) have shown improvements in other fitness parameters such as walking speed, step length, and the maximum standing time on one leg (balance and strength).

Improvements in these areas improve your balance which, in turn, can reduce your fall risk.

Are Whole Body Vibration Platforms Worth the Expense?

You should not purchase a whole body vibration platform if you expect that it will improve your bone density.

If you have access to a whole body vibration platform as part of a gym membership, then you can use the machine to improve your balance and reduce your risk of a fall.

My recommendation:

I encourage you to consider less costly and more effective options, and that you work with a health professional knowledgeable in the area of osteoporosis and exercise. If you have low bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis, I recommend that you follow a well designed osteoporosis exercise program that incorporates weight bearing, strength, flexibility, balance and postural exercises.

If you have or are considering purchasing a whole body vibration platform, I would be interested in your comments.

References

  1. Whole-body vibration as potential intervention for people with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis: A review JRRD Vol 46, No. 4 2009 pg 529-542, Totosy de Zepetnek JO et al.
  2. Effect of Whole-Body Vibration on Bone Density and Structure in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia: A Randomized Controlled Trial Lubomira Slatkovska, Shabbir Alibhai, Joseph Beyene, Angela M. Cheung. Toronto ON Canada; Toronto Ontario Canada
  3. A Six-Month Vibration Intervention Did Not Enhance Bone Adaptation in Healthy Young Females, Charles H. Negus, Rachel K. Evans, Mark E. Lester, Amanda Antczak, Kathleen Galloway. San Diego CA USA; Natick MA USA; Natick Massachusetts USA; Nashville Tennessee USA
  4. Controlled whole body vibration to decrease fall risk and improve health-related quality of life of nursing home residents, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 86, Issue 2 , Pages 303-307, February 2005, Olivier Bruyere et al.
  5. Effect of whole-body vibration exercise and muscle strengthening, balance, and walking exercises on walking ability in the elderly. The Keio Journal of Medicine, Vol. 56, 28-33 (2007). Kazuhiro Kawanabe, Akira Kawashima, Issei Sashimoto, Tsuyoshi Takeda, Yoshihiro Sato and Jun Iwamoto.

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  • Gloria davidson

    I went twice a week for power plate exercise last year and found it hugely beneficial for my arthritis in the lower back. I also have friends with the same arthritic problems who were unable to golf, started doing the power plate training and now golf three to four times a week. I guess it’s all in who you talk to .

  • http://www.melioguide.com Margaret Martin

    Hello Gloria, I have heard and read about many positive benefits of the power plate. My blog was based on the bone building benefits, which still seems somewhat inconclusive. However, if using it it improves your muscular strength then it will provide more support for your joints ( a big plus for arthritis). Ultimately, if you start moving more, you will have a positive effect on not only your skeleton but on your cardiovascular system your overall well being and your quality of life. The studies on the bone building benefit of the platform try to isolate the benefits of vibration from the benefits of exercise plus vibration. May I ask if you have continued to use it? If not, why not? Thank you for sharing.

  • Pamela Klenk

    I am ever so happy to see this site! I have an 19 yo son with Idiopathic Juvenile Osteoprosis (Dx age 12). He is now having painful negative effects from IJO. An all time low bone density has also occured. The MD’s strongly recommend IV drugs. :(. These come with side effects that could leave him physically much worse then the IJO. I’v been following news of the machine for several years, starting w/usage over seas. I’m a mom looking for the how to save my son and hopefully not give these potent drugs. I am a strong believer in altrunative medicine when it makes sense. I don’t have the means to buy this and as to date , have not found a gym or an MD that offer this. Could you offer suggestions? We live in NJ Warmly…

  • http://www.melioguide.com Margaret Martin

    Hello Pamela, sorry to hear of your son’s condition. I have been searching for a cheaper vibration platform for you but have not had any luck. The only platform I feel comfortable recommending is the Juvent Platform, I have not tried many others. New, they cost $2500. One of my clients gave me a Power Plate. It is so aggressive that I would not recommend it. There are gyms in the Ottawa area called T-Zone which are centered around vibration therapy, I could not find them in your area – maybe someone will respond after this email. Your son should be started on a strengthening program to preserve his joints and strengthen his bones. I would highly recommend that you find a physical therapist in your area.
    Let me know how things go.

  • Pamela Klenk

    Hi Margaret Martin, Thank you for your post. The T-Zone sounds wonderful! What a great way to improve bone health on a large scale! When my son was diagnised with IJO, it was because he fell and fractured his hip. Due to AVN-has had 4 surgeries to delay replacement which now needs to be done. Have been searching for a surgeon for over two months (too old for most Children’s hospitals and surgeons who deal with adults don’t want to touch him) and believe I have finally found one! He is receiving PT but only once a week for core/upper back strength and posture (upper spine is just starting to curve). Walking now causes pain. He is on a low dose ca+ and higher Vit D3. He also has Aspergers Syndrome -very high functioning. Recieved a 4 yr. college scholorship but returned home because pain of feet and hip. Due to sensory issues he will not eat veg./fruit/and next to no milk. I am now reading what you offer free on this site. I’d do anything to help inprove my sons current issues.

  • http://www.theherbaltradingco.com/ The Herbal Trading Co

    Very interesting topic, i never heard or read blog on this topic. Thank You

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