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What is WBV?

What is WBV?

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) involves the use of a vibrating platform to stimulate the muscles so they accelerate and decelerate rapidly. A growing number of clinical trials (conducted by hospitals, universities and scientific institutes worldwide) illustrate that there are numerous benefits including improved circulation, muscle toning, increased strength, weight loss, lymphatic drainage, increased bone density, improved balance, and more.

In the last few years, vibration plate machines have exploded in popularity. Vibration training has become popular for fitness and therapy among individuals with diverse health, physical, and emotional goals. Whole body vibration has also seen increased use in physical therapy and nursing home environments for its low impact, whole body benefits.

Prefer a quick overview? We've put together an amazing infographic to give you a better idea of what whole body vibration is all about. Just click the thumbnail to view the full image:
                                                            Why Whole Body Vibration Infographic

The History of Whole Body Vibration

Modern vibration training has evolved through the years from its nascent stages as vibrating chairs developed in the late 1800s, to devices developed to target specific muscles, and finally to the whole body vibration platforms used today.

The earliest recorded use of vibration therapy is by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, author of the Hippocratic Oath and the founder of modern medicine, was a proponent of vibration to treat joint pain, remove waste and encourage growth.

In late 1890s Michigan, Dr. John H. Kellogg used vibration in the form of vibrating chairs, bars, and platforms to treat patients suffering from a variety of circulatory ailments. In the 1960s, West German scientist Dr. William Biermann experimented with cycloid vibration, publishing a paper on its effects on trunk flexion. This predecessor to modern vibration therapy was known as Rhythmic Neuromuscular Stimulation (RNS).

Later, Dr. Vladimir Nasarov created a training program for athletes that involved a form of vibration known as biomechanical simulation. Biomechanical simulation is focused vibration applied directly to a tendon or muscle in need of therapy. The program was so successful that it was eventually adopted by the Russian space program to prevent bone and muscle loss of cosmonauts during missions in space. During the rule of the Soviet Union athletes used the technology as part of their training regimen.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the technology began to enter the West and the first whole body vibration machines intended for public consumption were created. The European Space Agency and NASA began to experiment with the technology to prevent bone and muscle loss in their astronauts, just as the Russians had for their cosmonauts.

Probably the most notable ancestor to vibration plate machines is the vibrating belt. These keystones in at-home gym equipment began circulating worldwide in the early 1970s, though some historians can date its conception to the mid 1850s. It was introduced as a product that literally “shakes the fat off,” accomplished by massaging the body and loosening fat. The marketing campaigns would feature a regular person in the comfort of their garages while mothers and fathers alike stood in comfort as they shook the fat off their stomachs. The success of these belts led to different variations of vibrating belts, which each company making different claims. The campaigns for these belts were illustrated by people sitting leisurely in their homes as they read their paper while their abs vibrated due to the application. Several of these companies were disproven and sued due to the outrageous claims they had of providing people with weight loss without working out.

It was in 1996 that the first vibration platform using side-alternating vibration was created in Germany, and a short time later others began to hit the market. Side-alternating—which simulates the human gait—and vertical (linear) vibration platforms are the most prominent devices available. Though whole body vibration does incorporate vibration technology into its machines, the methodology, technology, and concept behind it is far above that of the vibrating belt. These machines actually cause the user to condition and stimulate muscle growth and development, because the person using the machine is actually utilizing the machine for a work out. Unlike the vibrating belt machines, the whole body vibration platforms have been scientifically proven an effective addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Since their introduction to the consumer market, many people have tried the devices and numerous research studies have been conducted to measure the effectiveness of vibration in a variety of therapeutic areas.

As more devices are introduced and more people become aware of vibration technology, personal-use devices will continue to become more and more common. You'll now find these devices in gyms, residences, physical therapy offices and rehabilitation homes. [Back to Top]


Does Whole Body Vibration Work?

Major vibration manufacturers (including Novotec, Nemesis, FitMedCorp, and Pneumex) have made a number of claims regarding the positives of whole body vibration. These claims have been tested by a number of research centers, universities, and hospitals across the world, and the results have concluded that whole body vibration can provide:

Greater tissue activation and calorie burn: A pilot study conducted in 2012 by the Interdisciplinary Obesity Center (Switzerland) set out to study the effects of whole body vibration on obese women. Fourteen women completed the six-week study, which divided the subjects into two groups: those participating in a traditional endurance training program and those participating in endurance training with supplemental WBV training. Researchers recorded phase angle, body composition (through bioelectrical impedance analysis; BIA) and resting energy expenditure (REE) throughout the trial. At the conclusion of the study, it was found that the group utilizing vibration training had seen a larger improvement in the area of phase angle (a measurement of the electrical properties of tissue in the body, increasingly seen as a marker of good health), as well as in resting energy expenditure (the number of calories burned when at rest).

More explosive muscle strength: A 1999 study by the Ribstein Centre for Research and Sport Medicine Sciences (Israel) tested the effects of vibration training on bilateral biceps curl exercises with an explosive strength element. Among fourteen elite and fourteen amateur athletes, researchers found an increase in maximal power among those who used vibration training, as opposed to those who had only performed conventional training.

Greater visceral fat loss: A randomized controlled preliminary trial performed in 2010 by the University College of Antwerp (Belgium) tested the effects of whole body vibration on visceral adipose tissue (commonly known as organ fat; this is the fat the lies inside the abdominal cavity and between the organs). The study divided sixty-one subjects into four groups: those in a diet-only group, those in a diet with traditional fitness group, those in a diet with vibration training group and those in an intervention-free control group. Subjects received diet and training instruction for six months followed by a follow-up interview six months post-study. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that the vibration group lost and kept off a dramatically greater amount of visceral fat than other groups.

Want to see more? We've put together an extensive collection of whole body vibration studies, including studies on specific conditions like muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease, on our Supporting Research page.

If you have any doubts left, we encourage you to review the research included on our site and perform research of your own. The facts are there: whole body vibration is a safe, effective and low impact way to improve your overall health and well-being, regardless of age or fitness level. [Back to Top]


The Science of Whole Body Vibration Platforms

Whole body vibration training utilizes vibration stimulation through the motion of a platform. As the platform vibrates, it forces the body to react in order to keep its balance. The muscles contract and relax rapidly, which increases blood flow and improves oxygen circulation throughout the body. The contraction of muscles during vibration training is also thought to improve lymphatic drainage, which helps rid the body of toxins.

The rapid movement of the muscles allows vibration training to pack a lot of work into a relatively short period of time. Traditional exercise does not cause the muscles to contract as quickly as a WBV machine, which can complete over 30 vibration cycles per second. This training has been proven effective at removing visceral fat, increasing explosive power and encouraging muscle growth.

Users can modify the frequency (how quickly the plate moves) and the amplitude (how high the plate vibrates) of the whole body vibration machine to give a variety of different muscle-stimulating workouts. In response to the vibration, the user's muscles will contract and relax dozens of times per second for a complete workout in a relatively short period of time. The vibration also allows the users to target skeletal support muscles, letting them working towards greater muscle strength, circulation and bone density. [Back to Top]


Common Uses of Whole Body Vibration

Health & Wellness

Vibration machines are used by a wide array of people with a variety of health and fitness goals. Individuals around the world use vibration training at a gym, with a personal trainer, or at home. Therapy centers are also notable locations where this equipment may be found due to lasting effects on the body and recovery. Some locations that use vibration machines every day include healthcare practitioner offices, fitness centers, spinal and chiropractor offices, and other recovery centers. Vibration platforms are very useful for rehabilitation and are becoming more common in rehabilitative therapy.

One of the most notable examples of whole body vibration use can be seen at NASA. NASA has utilized WBV technology in order to improve bone density, circulation and muscular strength of their astronauts. While in space, a loss of bone density, muscular strength, and normal circulation can take place, which is why some astronauts have trouble walking normally upon their return to Earth. The weightless environment of space does not expose muscles and bones to the same forces as Earth's gravity. Without this strain, muscles may lost strength and bone density may decrease. In order to maintain muscular strength and bone density in space, crew members stand on the vibrating plate with the aid of straps to prevent floating. The vibration training allows astronauts to maintain their physical fitness while operating in zero gravity.

Beyond NASA's own internal testing, public research and clinic trials on whole body vibration have repeatedly confirmed its efficiency. Throughout these studies, vibration therapy has shown demonstrated improvements in flexibility, range of motion, back pain, balance, functional mobility, and injury rehabilitation. Several trials have also verified the effectiveness of whole body vibration therapy for conditions such as osteoporosis, Parkinson's disease, and emphysema. You can read more about these condition-specific studies and the existing clinical data for WBV therapy on our Supporting Research page.

Sports

A broad spectrum of athletes and professional athletic clubs employ vibration machines as part of their training or warm-up regimens. The muscular and bone strenghtening benefits of vibration training translate into performance gains for professional sports teams. Whole body vibration machines are used by athletes from the collegiate level all the way through the Olympics. Teams utilizing vibration training include: three-time NBA champions, the Miami Heat; 16-time NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers; 13-time Stanley Cup champions, the Toronto Maple Leafs; four-time NFL champions, the New York Giants; and a number of college athletic teams such as those from Ohio State University, University of Louisville, University of Houston, Emory University, and many others.

Whole body vibration is useful to athletes because of the effect it has on the muscles, tendons and joints. Several studies have been conducted specifically on athletes, such as Olympic gymnasts and NFL players, to test the effectiveness of vibration machines. In each of these studies, the results illustrated that use prior to a workout or intense physical activity recruited more muscle fiber and generated more muscular activity to improve performance. Individuals looking to increase their explosive jumping or launching power will find a whole body vibration platform a beneficial addition to their training regimen.

Fitness

Another primary use of whole body vibration is muscular toning. Vibration training appeals to individuals with a high level of fitness and a limited amount of time. From musicians to actresses, fashion designers to super models, every celebrity uses technology to get the most out of their workout, and many turn to whole body vibration machines. Icons who using vibration training machines include:

Mark Wahlberg (Academy Award nominee, actor, producer, model, and former rapper)
Clint Eastwood (Pioneer of the spaghetti western film, four-time Academy Award winner)
Hillary Swank (Oscar Academy Award winning actress)
Gwen Stefani (Three-time Grammy Award-winning musician)
Madonna (Seven-time Grammy Award-winning musician)

What brings this diverse group of celebrities to whole body vibration? The same thing that brings hundreds of others: time. Professional actors, musicians and directors have intense schedules, packed with filming, studio time, professional appearances, and performances. These celebrities do not have hours to dedicate to their fitness and physique; they need to squeeze in workouts around their already hectic schedules. This feature is perfect for anyone juggling long hours at work, caring for a family, home life and other responsibilities; it is much easier to fit in an effective, whole-body workout that is just ten minutes than to squeeze in a two hour gym session! [Back to Top]


Whole Body Vibration vs. Traditional Fitness

Whole body vibration has a number of advantages over traditional fitness activities. First, it does not require large, expensive machines to use. Whole body vibration uses just one machine, with the ability to add-on small items, like weights and resistance bands. Since it is convenient to use in the home, you can bypass expensive, overcrowded gyms, where you might spend even more time waiting to use the machine you need.

Vibration training also has a major advantage for those with injuries or physical limitations that might make traditional fitness routines difficult or impossible. This can include those dealing with injury, joint pain, muscle pain or chronic disease. WBV is a low impact, whole body workout; it isn't going to force additional pressure onto bones and joints, but it will still provide effective strength training. Whole body vibration training has been clinically proven to help:

• Increases bone density
• Treats lower back pain
• Provides weight loss and muscle tone
• Improves circulation and other functions from other major body systems

Whole body vibration is an effective method of exercise for those who value their time, their money and their health. It has the ability to fit into every home, every lifestyle and assist with a variety of common health conditions. [Back to Top]


The Whole Body Vibration Revolution

Now that some information has been given about vibration machines, the last question is – why is it so revolutionary? The answer lies within the technology of the vibration plates. With traditional gym equipment, the human body is impacted by only one stimulus (means of force). For example, bicep or tricep machines allow the user to lift or pull handles, contracting the muscle in one motion whenever the apparatus is used. Treadmills have belts that move in only one direction, applying force to the body in only one plane. Whole body vibration machines apply a method of muscle stimulation unlike any seen in other gym or fitness equipment.

On a whole body vibration machine, the plates are moving in two different planes and in four varying directions. These platforms move vertically (both up and down), and create movement on both sides of the plate. By applying layered impact as opposed to a single movement, the vibration plate provides a two pronged stimulation and contraction cycle to the entire body, resulting in toner and stronger muscles with less time. This action is drive by the combination of a powerful motor and serpentine belt drive system working together to amplify tissue development and strength in a completely new way. By offering an entire new method of muscle stimulation, whole body vibration introduces a radical change to fitness technology and establishes new cutting edge additions to health and fitness!