Benefits of Adding Whole Body Vibration Therapy to Your Patient’s Exercise Program

Whole body vibration therapy (WBVT) is becoming one of the fastest growing modalities in chiropractic and physiotherapy clinics around the country. Whole body vibration therapy has the ability to provide numerous benefits to your patients, and by adding this modality into your practice you can help improve treatment outcomes and increase patient satisfaction.

Whole body vibration therapy has been found to provide additional health benefits compared to traditional exercise training programs. It can also make mundane exercise more exciting by adding a little novelty and variation, which you may find even increases patient compliance.

What is Whole Body Vibration Therapy?

Whole body vibration therapy was originally utilized by the Russian space program and continues to be used with Olympic athletes. Research and development of the technology was initially focused on improving athletic performance, however, in recent years, the therapeutic benefits of whole body vibration therapy have been discovered (“Vibration Exercise Therapy”, 2008). Whole body vibration has been gaining some much-deserved attention from health care practitioners and the public.

The physiological mechanism behind whole body vibration is quite simple – the VibePlate platform vibrates vertically over a distance of a few millimeters, which mimics a natural body movement (“FAQs, 2017). The vibration works at a speed of up to 50 times per second, which naturally stimulates the stretch reflex, creating an involuntary muscle contraction. This equates to a patient having up to 3,000 muscle contractions within one minute. The involuntary stretch reflex induced by whole-body vibration is what provides patients with multiple benefits, especially when you add this therapy to their already existing exercise program (“Vibration Exercise Therapy”, 2008)

Benefits of Whole Body Vibration Exercise

Many chiropractors and physiotherapists advise their patients on stretching and strengthening programs as part of their overall treatment plan. Adding whole body vibration therapy into your patients’ programs will provide an array of additional health benefits, including:

Enhanced Strength Gains

When you start an exercise program with your patient, the initial strength gains that you see are the result of increased muscle fibre recruitment, as opposed to hypertrophy. By using whole body vibration therapy, more muscle fibres are recruited compared to traditional strength training due to the involuntary stretch reflex and subsequent muscle contraction. Increased muscle fibre recruitment equals improved strength gains (“Vibration Exercise Therapy”, 2008).

Increased Flexibility

Whole body vibration has been found to improve flexibility by stimulating the nutritional effects in the joint articulations and by diminishing neuromuscular adhesions (Dolny & Reyes, 2008). This helps to keep the muscles flexible and strong, allowing for full range of motion that is relatively pain-free.

Improved Balance Control

Research has found that whole-body vibration helps to improve balance control in healthy patients, as well as elderly patients and those with motor impairments (Ritzmann, Kramer, Bernhardt & Gollhofer, 2014). Improved balance can help to minimise the risk of falling, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Improved Circulation and Skin Blood Flow

Whole body vibration training provides an immediate increase in blood circulation, which enhances oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cells of the body and supports their proper functioning Further, improved circulation helps to remove waste products from the body more efficiently, which helps the body recover more rapidly (Lohman, Petrofsky, Maloney-Hinds, Betts-Schwab & Thorpe, 2007 & Maloney-Hinds, Petrofsky & Zimmerman (2008).

Not only does improved circulation improve delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells and efficiently remove waste products, it also helps to increase metabolism, allow for more efficient use of oxygen during exercise to burn fat, increases energy levels, and reduces swelling and pain in the feet and ankles.

Shorter Training Sessions

Because whole body vibration therapy can produce up to 3,000 muscle contractions per minute, exercise sessions can be shortened. Research has shown that training with whole-body vibration for 20 minutes provides similar strength gains to training for 1 hour with conventional methods (“Vibration Exercise Therapy”, 2008).

Versatility

Many patients have difficulty engaging in conventional training programs due to their physical limitations (i.e. back pain, knee pain, Parkinson’s disease etc.). Whole body vibration therapy is an effective solution for this patient population as it can be started in a static and pain-free range of motion (“Vibration Exercise Therapy”, 2008). This allows you to incorporate exercise training with patient’s that may not typically follow through with exercise recommendations.

What does this mean for you as a practitioner?

We’ve outlined some of the benefits of adding whole body vibration into your patient’s exercise routine, but what does this really mean for you as a practitioner?

  • Your patients will see faster strength gains
  • Your patients will have the flexibility that allows them to have normal, pain-free, range of motion
  • Your deconditioned patients can effectively strength train in shorter bursts of time
  • You can incorporate safe, and effective exercise training sessions into your practice using very little time (20 minutes)
  • Your patients may recover from injury more rapidly
  • Your patients will be a decreased risk of falling due to increased balance control
  • You can incorporate exercise training in almost all of your patients, even ones with chronic conditions that usually make exercise training difficult due to physical limitations

In Conclusion

Whole body vibration is a versatile modality that can be adapted to suit almost any patient, regardless of their age, health condition, or physical fitness level. By adding this modality into your practice, you’ll not only see better treatment outcomes, you’ll also likely see improved patient satisfaction levels. Additionally, whole body vibration for exercise training isn’t just a modality to be used in chiropractic and physiotherapy centers – patients often choose to continue vibration exercises after being discharged from their practitioners.

Resource

Dolny, D., & Reyes, G. (2008). Whole Body Vibration Exercise. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 7(3), 152-157. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.csmr.0000319708.18052.a1

FAQs. (2017). VibePlate. Retrieved 16 June 2017, from http://vibeplate.com/faqs/

Lohman, E.B., Petrofsky, I.S., Maloney-Hinds, C., Betts-Schwab, H., & Thorpe, D. (2007). The Effect of Whole Body Vibration on Lower Extremity Skin Blood Flow in Normal Subjects. Med Sci Monit. 13(2), CR71-76.

Maloney-Hinds C., Petrofsky J.S., Zimmerman, G. (2008). The effect of 30 Hz vs. 50 Hz Passive Vibration and Duration of Vibration on Skin Blood Flow in the Arm. Med Sci Monit. 14(3), CR112-116.

Ritzmann, R., Kramer, A., Bernhardt, S., & Gollhofer, A. (2014). Whole Body Vibration Training – Improving Balance Control and Muscle Endurance. Plos ONE, 9(2), e89905. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0089905

Vibration Exercise Therapy. (2008). Canadian Chiropractor. Retrieved 16 June 2017, from https://www.canadianchiropractor.ca/education/vibration-exercise-therapy-1221

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