Whole Body Vibration: Is It Good For Bone Health?

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Whole Body Vibration And Bone Health

Bone mineral density (BMD) is the amount of matter per square inch of bone, and is used as a determinant of bone strength.

With age, BMD gradually declines in all individuals. This due to the fact that bone breakdown occurs faster than the generation of bone. As bones become thinner, they lose density and become porous due to a loss of calcium and other minerals. Low BMD is a condition known as osteopenia. If enough bone loss occurs, an individual is considered to have osteoporosis. Bones are more prone to fractures or breaks as this condition weakens them. Osteoporosis can occur in men, but it most commonly occurs in women following menopause. When someone develops osteopenia, there are several interventions that may be beneficial to help regain bone mass or delay the progression towards osteoporosis. They include: calcium with vitamin D supplements, exercise that includes weight bearing aerobic exercise and weight training, and various medications.

Weight bearing exercises have tremendous benefits for the body, one of which is strengthening bone and preventing the onset of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Weight bearing exercises produce an overload effect on the bones involved in the movement. This overload causes the bone to produce new and stronger bone cells. Another benefit of exercise is an improvement in balance and coordination, which in turn helps to decrease an individual’s risk of falling. Fall prevention is an important issue for individuals with osteoporosis. A Cochrane Database Review found that aerobic, weight bearing and resistance exercises were all effective at increasing or maintaining BMD in the spine1. Walking was also shown to improve BMD in the hip1. Another review article recommended high impact and resistance exercises for preventing osteoporosis, and weight bearing and resistance exercises for individuals with osteoporosis2. It was recommended that individuals with osteoporosis also incorporate exercises to improve balance, mobility and posture2.

Does whole body vibration help?

There is a relatively large body of research looking at the effects of Whole Body Vibration on BMD. Many of the recent studies show that a whole body vibration plate may have a positive impact on BMD. One study examining postmenopausal females found a decline in BMD in the control group after 8 months, meanwhile the vibration group BMD remained unchanged3. Furthermore, improvements in the BMD of the hip and femur bones in women have been consistently shown following whole body vibration therapy4-6. With respect to low BMD, one study evaluated the effectiveness of whole body vibration in young women. They found increases in BMD in this population in the femur and spine with short bouts of whole body vibration at 30 Hz7. A review article looking at the effectiveness of using a vibration plate in the elderly population noted improvements in bone density, balance and muscle power but cautioned the benefits of the findings due to poor methodology in much of the research reviewed8. In a different review article, it was suggested that both whole body vibration therapy and aerobic exercise may improve BMD in the spine and femur of older adults9. Two other studies found improvements in strength and the risk of falls following the use of whole body vibration therapy in conjunction with other exercise programs; however, no added benefits to BMD were seen with the addition of using a whole body vibration machine10, 11. Overall, the research into whole body vibration is positive with respect to improving or maintaining BMD. It is important to note that this research has been done on specific populations so it is difficult to determine if the benefits would translate to other populations.

Although research is generally positive about the benefit of using a whole body vibration plate to maintain or improve BMD, it is important to note that severe osteoporosis is considered an absolute contraindication to whole body vibration. This is due to the fragility of the bones at this stage of the disease, and the potential risk for fracture. It is essential that anyone diagnosed with osteopenia (low BMD) or osteoporosis discuss the use of whole body vibration with a physician before adding it to her/his exercise program. Due to the potential risk for fracture with any physical activity, it is important that a physician understand whole body vibration to help determine if the potential benefits outweigh any risk or contraindication. If an individual suffers from any major illness or there is any concern that a health issue may be impacted by the use of a whole body vibration machine, it is important to get clearance from a physician before using the platform.

Once cleared by a physician or if an individual is in good health and using whole body vibration therapy for preventative reasons, it should be initiated at a reduced intensity and duration. As an individual adapts to the machine and no pain or discomfort is felt, the intensity and duration can be increased and exercises at an appropriate level may be added. In general, if an individual experiences any pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath while using the whole body vibration platform, it should be discontinued immediately.


  1. Bonaiuti D, Shea B, Iovine R, Negrini S, Welch V, Kemper HHCG, Wells GA, Tugwell P, Cranney A. Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 2.
  2. Guadalupe-Grau A, Fuentes T, Guerra B, Calbet JA. 2009. Exercise and bone mass in adults, Sports Medicine, 39(6), 439-68.
  3. Beck BR, Norling TL. 2010. The effect of 8 mos of twice-weekly low- or higher intensity whole body vibration on risk factors for postmenopausal hip fracture, American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89(12), 997-1009.
  4. Gusi N, Raimundo A, Leal A. 2006. Low-frequency vibratory exercise reduces the risk of bone fracture more than walking: a randomized controlled trial, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 7.
  5. Humphries B, Fenning A, Dugan E, Guinane J, MacRae K. 2009. Whole-body vibration effects on bone mineral density in women with or without resistance training, Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine, 80(12), 1025-31.
  6. Verschueren SM, Roelants M, Delecluse C, Swinnen S, Vanderschueren D, Boonen S.2004. Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot study. Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 19(3), 352-9.
  7. Gilsanz V, Wren TA, Sanchez M, Dorey F, Judex S, Rubin C.2006. Low-level, high-frequency mechanical signals enhance musculoskeletal development of young women with low BMD. Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 21(9), 1464-74.
  8. Merriman H, Jackson K. 2009. The effects of whole-body vibration training in aging adults: a systematic review, Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 32(3), 134-45.
    Liu PY, Brummel-Smith K, Ilich JZ. 2011. Aerobic exercise and whole-body vibration in offsetting bone loss in older adults, Journal of Aging Research.
  9. Bemben DA, Palmer IJ, Bemben MG, Knehans AW. 2010. Effects of combined whole-body vibration and resistance training on muscular strength and bone metabolism in postmenopausal women, Bone, 47(3), 650-6.
  10. von Stengel S, Kemmler W, Engelke K, Kalender WA. 2011. Effects of whole body vibration on bone mineral density and falls: results of the randomized controlled ELVIS study with postmenopausal women, Osteoporosis International, 22(1), 317-25.

Are you a chiropractor who is currently using or interested in using whole body vibration in your practice? We work with chiropractors all over North America. Contact us for more information on our chiropractor program.

NOTE: The information presented is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. Pain can be from many causes, be sure to consult your health care professional before starting this or any exercise regime.

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