You’ve seen them at the gym. You’ve seen them on TV. Vibration platforms resemble a doctor’s weight scale with long handles, and they’re regularly used to a wide variety of health conditions. While the typical consumer may consider vibration plates to be fads or scams, the scientific community knows differently. From physical therapists to personal trainers and orthopedic surgeons, professionals use whole body vibration (WBV) therapy to treat everything from scoliosis to chronic pain, as well as increase muscle mass, bone density and overall strength.
Are They Backed by Science?
It may surprise you to learn that many studies have been done on the effectiveness of vibration technology. Studies show WBV is super effective at treating pain, reducing chronic pain by up to 40 percent. Research shows that when properly applied, vibration will correct fused bone and rigid muscle groups. It can even retrain the brain to communicate with the body in healthier new ways.
If you look at all the ways you can apply WBV, it begins to resemble a cure-all. Does it treat depression? Yes. After just 10 minutes on a machine, scientists note a reduction in cortisol, known as the depression hormone. Will it help with weight loss? Yes, again. Significant long-term weight loss was demonstrated in trials when vibration therapy was utilized during conventional exercises. Increase stamina? Improve posture? Yes and yes, again. Seemingly, there’s not much WBV can’t do, though there are limitations.
For instance, in terms of weight loss, the benefits are practically nonexistent for those who simply stand on the machine for a few minutes a night. Long-term weight loss was only obtained by those who performed lunges, squats and other exercises during vibration sessions. The same was true for stroke and cerebral palsy patients who worked to improve their postural sway. The vibration platforms had to be used in specific ways to lead to improvements.
There are only a handful of benefits you’ll get from using the machines on their own without specific guidance. Hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone increase, for instance, giving your weight-lifting workout a boost.
Who Gets the Biggest Benefits?
WBV is capable of helping people in so many areas, it’s hard to pick one group of users who get the most bang for their buck. Anyone with limited mobility or energy levels will find vibration therapy very helpful in maximizing their physical activity. It’s an exceptional addition to physical therapy because it’s so easy to use. At the same time, some pain sufferers have yet to find a medication or traditional therapy that manages their symptoms, so vibration therapy can mean an instant improvement in quality of life. Casual users can see benefits too. If you have a limited amount of time to work out, a vibration platform can double your efforts in a shorter time. How it’s used best is really up to you!
Of course, there are some people who shouldn’t use vibration machines, so it’s important to speak with your doctor before working one into your fitness or therapy routine. For instance, pregnant women and people with prosthetic joints should talk to their doctors about alternatives.