In 1867, Russian physician and inventor Gustav Zander developed a series of machines that utilized systems of weights and pulleys to create the sense of vibration. The purpose of the apparatus was therapeutic, and in 1895, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg implemented vibration therapy in his health practice. With a vibrating chair he developed himself, he claimed the therapy was good for circulation and could also alleviate constipation.
During the Russian space program, physicians noticed that the returning astronauts suffered from the loss of bone mass and bone fractures at a much earlier age than was normal. They began to use whole body vibration devices to help strengthen astronauts’ bone mass and muscles. Today, NASA uses vibration therapy to help prevent muscle loss in astronauts.
To get the benefits of whole body vibration therapy, you may stand, sit, or lay on a machine supported by a vibrating platform. One common form that can improve muscle soreness requires staying in a half-squat position with knees bent at 100 degrees for 60 seconds. This is intended to trick the body into thinking it’s falling, producing rapid muscle contractions.
Vibration therapy can also be used on localized areas of your body. During this type of therapy, the practitioner will use a hand-held vibrating device. This can be placed on different parts of your body, such as the calf or thigh muscles.
How Vibration Therapy Works
Vibration machines work on the principles of frequency and amplitude, which may be adjusted to suit your specific needs. In whole body vibration therapy, as the platform generates vibrations, they are transmitted to your body. The direction and intensity of the vibrations are what makes them effective or not.
Some machines produce only vertical vibrations, whereas others produce vibrations up and down, front and back, and sideways. Up and down vibrations are believed to be most effective for producing rapid muscle contractions. Localized vibration therapy has a similar stimulating effect on small groups of muscles.
With regards to improvement of bone density, it has been suggested that vibration therapy may induce nuclei inside the cells to trigger the release of osteoblasts, which are needed to build bone.
Advocates of vibration therapy claim that both whole body and localized therapy have a wide range of health benefits, including
- Improving Bone Density
- Increasing Muscle Mass
- Improving Circulation
- Reducing Joint Pain
- Reducing Back Pain
- Alleviating Stress
- Boosting Metabolism