Tracing its roots back to ancient Greece as early as the 1800s, Vibration therapy was widely used amongst the Greek society to comfort the soldiers bearing muscle or bone injuries. By allowing the strings tied on a wooden bow to vibrate over the sore muscles, doctors observed that the soldiers healed quicker than any other sort of therapy. While the Greeks did invent vibration machines for therapeutic purposes. It wasn’t until the 1860s when a Swedish scientist Jonas Gustav Zander invented full body vibration machines and implemented them in his fitness gymnasiums.
Today, now that science has progressed by leaps and bounds and there exists substantial research that favors the methodology of vibration therapy. You will come across a section specifically dedicated to vibration machines in almost every gymnasium or a fitness center you visit. Vibration therapy, for a number of advantages it offers, is used far and wide. Not solely for therapeutic purposes but for fitness purposes as well.
But before we get deep into just how beneficial vibration therapy can prove for you, it is vital to first understand how it works.
What is vibration therapy?
Vibration therapy makes use of vibrations produced by a machine or an instrument to stimulate muscles. As a result of the oscillations, the muscles contract and expand repeatedly over the therapy duration which in turn stimulates the production of osteoblasts otherwise known as bone producing cells.
Vibration therapy generally involves two methods:
Whole-body vibration therapy
As the name suggests, whole-body vibration therapy involves machines that work out the whole body. Depending upon the machine, your therapist may ask you to stand, sit or lay down on top of the soft platform of the machine underneath which lies the vibrating mechanism. Moreover, to target different body areas, you may be asked to stand or sit in different positions to inflict maximum effect on the specific area.
Localized vibration therapy
While whole-body vibration therapy works out the whole body via the help of machines, localized vibration therapy includes different instruments aimed to target and soothe a specific muscle. While taking up localized vibration therapy, your therapist may use different instruments on your calves, thighs or back.
Benefits vibration therapy has to offer
From aching muscles to getting rid of fat, vibration therapy offers a wide range of health benefits. The few of which are listed as follows
Increased muscle strength
Be it sore muscles from lifting heavy in the gym or ache from a chronic condition. Muscle pain can prove a great hurdle in daily life. Studies suggest that using vibration therapy can aid in strengthening muscles.
This is extremely beneficial for athletes that require quick recovery before sweating out again. This is backed by a 2014 study published in clinical and diagnostic research. According to which, vibration therapy can assist in the management of symptoms of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which usually results after a few hours of a strenuous workout and last up to a few days.
From a clinical point of view, vibration therapy has also proven beneficial. For example, a study published in Medical Human Genetics in the year 2014 observed that children who used whole-body vibration for 3 months showed increased muscle strength and reduced intensity of their spastic diplegic cerebral palsy condition.
Increased bone density
As we mentioned earlier, depending upon the machine or the instrument, the oscillations produced stimulates the muscles to expand and contract repeatedly. Better results are observed in aged individuals. Vibration therapy can help strengthen the leg muscles of older individuals as well as produce bone density increasing osteoblasts. A number of studies suggest that whole-body vibration can help increase bone mineral in different areas of the body including the lumbar spine.
Even NASA benefits from vibration therapy. Studies suggest that astronauts lose bone density and muscle mass slightly faster than usual. To help strengthen muscle mass and increase bone density, just 5 or 10 minutes of vibration therapy is required. And the astronauts can do so while also focusing on other tasks.
Regulation of blood circulation
Our hearts play a crucial role in the circulation of blood throughout the body. Effective circulation depends greatly upon the cardiovascular fitness of the individual which in turn depends upon the general health of the individual. If an individual hardly ever exercises, it is fair to claim that he may not boost the healthiest of hearts. This greatly lowers the effectiveness of the role played by our hearts in circulating the blood. And as we know it, this can prove dangerous for the body as well as affect other crucial organs.
A 2014 study published in the Diabetes Science and Technology journal favors vibration therapy in improving the skin blood flow amongst individuals with diabetes. Moreover, several other studies also second the 2014 study in favoring the whole body vibration to help effectively regulate the blood flow as well as strengthening muscle mass amongst patients with a history of spinal cord injuries.
Benefits individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
A study published in Clinical Rehabilitation in 2005 showed that out of 12 individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Those that were given whole-body vibration therapy yielded better mobility and control.
Similarly, individuals struggling with Parkinson’s disease can also greatly benefit from vibration therapy. Studies suggest that vibration therapy can help lower the severity of the disease by increasing control over motor functions
Weight loss and overall health
While vibration therapy may not help you lose weight directly. Incorporating it with your daily strength and cardiovascular exercises can greatly help you lose fat and get that summer body. Vibrations produced can disturb the stored fat cells, hence weakening them which can then easily be targeted and annihilated by strength/cardio exercises. Moreover, it can prove an excellent choice for older individuals that find working out daily too stressful for them. Just a brief period of 15 minutes can help them improve their health, cure muscle ache and regulate blood circulation.
While vibration therapy can keep you fit, it still lacks sufficient research to answer whether it provides the same health advantages as normal exercises like walking or cycling. Therefore, relying solely on oscillations may not be a great idea.
Vibration therapy has myriad benefits to offer ranging from fitness to health to wellness. The study conducted so far favors vibration therapy in terms of both medical and fitness health but there still lacks sufficient knowledge to better understand the effects of vibration therapy. In some cases, vibration therapy can prove harmful for example in cases of pregnancy or heart diseases. Therefore, before taking up vibration therapy, we recommend you discuss it with your doctor. Besides that, vibration therapy has virtually limitless health and therapeutic benefits to offer.