Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Technology

Whole body vibration devices generally comprise of a platform that one stands on and a means for controlling the frequency (or speed) and force of the vibration.  The platform moves up and down and this causes vibrations to travel through all tissues of the entire body.  There are a great variety of whole body vibration (WBV) devices and an equally broad variation of their construction, style of operation and consequential benefits.  See our comparison page for more information on the different kinds of whole body vibration machines.

Biomechanics

The physical effects on the body during vibration are a consequence of the rigidity of the skeletal structure and the elasticity and mass of the muscles, organs and the vertical movement of the plate.  When the plate pushes upwards, the entire skeletal structure moves upward with the plate (assuming that knees are not bent). As the skeleton moves upwards, it pulls the muscles and other soft tissue along with it, but the inertia and elasticity of the soft tissue causes it to stretch out slightly before it catches up.  A bit like pulling up quickly on an elastic rope tied to a weight.  At the same time, the joints in tension (shoulders, elbows, and wrists) open up slightly, gently stretching the ligaments that hold the joint in place.

On the return cycle (as the plate tops out and begins descending), the same process occurs in reverse. Muscles bunch up in response to the reduced load and joints move in the opposite direction.

This process repeats many times during a session of vibration therapy. The passive activation of the muscles and other soft tissue lubricates and loosens joints and improves circulation.

Bad Vibrations

Unhealthy forms of whole body vibration do exist. These are characterized by long duration exposure to high levels of vibration that include high impact shocks. People exposed to this kind of vibration can be found in the following occupations: truck drivers, operators of earthmoving equipment and operators of hand-held vibrating pneumatic equipment.This kind of vibration can be harmful and occupational health and safety regulations govern safe levels of exposure to this kind of vibration.

Good Vibrations: Therapeutic Whole Body Vibration (TWBV)

In comparison, therapeutic whole body vibration (TWBV) is the controlled and purposeful exposure of the body to vibration of specific frequency and force in order to achieve desirable health benefits. The principle distinction between therapeutic vibration and the undesirable variety is that therapeutic vibration is applied for short periods of time (minutes instead of hours), at a much lower magnitude, and is smooth and consistent (absent of shock).

Whole Body Massage

TWBV can be better understood if thought of as whole body massage.  In other words, as massage applied to the whole body at once, from head to toe, front to back.  The benefits of massage have been well understood for thousands of years.  Small hand-held vibrating devices are used to ease pain and accelerate healing in many healthcare environments. TWBV takes this principle to its full potential by including the whole body.

History

Whole Body Vibration therapy was initially developed as a means of decreasing the loss of muscle mass and bone density when astronauts are in space. TWBV later proved to have athletic applications, resulting in improved flexibility and strength. Much of the success of the Russian Olympic teams of the 1970s and 80s has been attributed to the use of WBV training.

Over the years the use of TWBV has expanded, and is now used for general health and wellness, anti-aging and beauty. TWBV is a valuable complement to other therapies and has been adopted by top professional athletes to reduce stiffness, speed injury recovery and improve agility. A broad range of healthcare professionals now offer TWBV for general health and wellness and as drug-free treatment for a range of chronic conditions.

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