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How Does Vibration Therapy Work & What are Its Benefits and Risks

What is Vibration Therapy?

Vibration therapy is a combination of gentle vibrations that increase the blood flow to the targeted area. A Russian physician Gustav Zander developed an apparatus with weights and pulleys to create vibrations.

How Does Vibration Therapy Work?

How Does Vibration Therapy Work?

Vibration therapy is of two types, which include:

  • Whole body vibration therapy
  • Localize vibration therapy

During the whole-body therapy, the person is asked to stand, sit, and lay on the machine that is supported by a vibrating platform.

In localized vibration therapy a hand-held device is placed on certain parts of the body, for example on the calf or thigh muscle.

The vibrations are transmitted into the body causing the muscles to contract and relax. There are certain vibrations that may cause the production of osteoclast, which helps in bone production.

It is the direction and intensity of vibration that determine the result of vibration therapy. There are a few machines that just produce vertical vibrations while others produce vibrations that go up, down, front, back, and sideways. The up and down vibrations are known to produce the most rapid muscle contractions.

Health Benefits of Vibration Therapy

There are a range of health benefits claimed by vibration therapy. They include the following:

  • Improve circulation
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Reduce back pain
  • Alleviate stress
  • Increase bone density
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Boost metabolism

More research is needed to prove all the above benefits, still, there are a few findings that suggest this treatment may be helpful in certain conditions.

Muscle Pain

Recent research published in the Journal of Athletic training showed that the vibration therapy may be helpful in preventing soreness after exercise.(1)

The authors also mentioned that more research is needed on it.

Improves Bone Density and Muscle Strength

An article reviewed the research on vibration therapy’s effect on muscle strength and bone mass. It was found that the vibration therapy was effective in improving leg muscle strength in older adults. No significant evidence was seen on its role in improving bone density in older adults.(2)

More recent research was more promising and suggested that vibration therapy helped in stimulating bone formation and improving bone strength.(3, 4) However, the intensity of vibration determines its effectiveness.

Parkinson’s Disease

A study in Neuro-Rehabilitation suggested that vibration therapy may have short-term benefits in people with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.(5) It may decrease tremors and rigidity.

Risks of Vibration Therapy

High-intensity vibration therapy may be dangerous as the vibration would be very high, which may lead to lumbar injuries. It is therefore important to speak with the doctor before going ahead with vibration therapy as precaution or avoidance would be needed in the following cases:

  • For a pregnant female
  • Those with heart disease
  • Those having advanced diabetes
  • If someone is taking blood-thinning medications.

Vibration therapy may be beneficial for those with muscle weakness and soreness and Parkinson’s disease. It may also be beneficial for those who do not exercise regularly. There are a few studies that prove its effectiveness but still more studies are needed to be done. As this therapy involves a few risks it is important for a doctor to give a nod saying yes, before going ahead with it.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 3, 2022

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