Do Vibration Machines Build Healthy Bones?

Exercise / Osteoporosis / September 15, 2017

Your bones are living tissue that require movement and exercise to remain healthy.

But besides from traditional exercise, what else is out there? Many believe that there are machines which we can use to make our bones stronger. But where did this idea come from?


The Daily Stress Stimulus Theory

This theory proposes that daily stress stimulus on your bones can help to achieve bone gain. It proposes that a high cycle number and low magnitude stimulation may be sufficient for maintaining bone mass. And strain frequency may be an additional factor critical to the process of bone adaptation.

The Daily Stress Stimulus Theory, and similar ways of thinking, have lead to the popularisation of whole body vibration (WBV) machines. These devices work like this: you stand on something that looks like a weight scale. The machine delivers vibrations in a combination of intensity and speed. These vibrations make your muscles work, and improves your bone strength.

But studies looking at the effects of WBV on bone health among older adults and postmenopausal women form an inconclusive opinion.

Let’s look at both sides…

Woman using vibration machines

The Research: Whole Body Vibration Machines

Studies reported findings suggesting that WBV may represent an effective non-pharmacological intervention for preventing a decline in bone mass density (BMD) or for increasing or maintaining BMD in populations with below-normal BMD or osteoporosis.

One study published in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research looked to assess the musculoskeletal effects of high-frequency loading (vibrations) by means of WBV in postmenopausal women.

The results showed no vibration-related side effects. But more interestingly, they found that the vibrations improved isometric and dynamic muscle strength, and also significantly increased BMD of the hip.

Their findings suggest that WBV training may be a feasible and effective way to modify risk factors for falls and fractures in older women.

Another study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders aimed to compare the effects of WBV on bone mineral density and balance in postmenopausal women.

The results of the study showed that after 8 months, BMD at the femoral neck in the WBV group increased by 4.3% compared to a group that exercised by walking alone. Balance was improved in the WBV group by 29% compared to the walking group.

These results suggest that the 8-month course of vibratory exercise was feasible and more effective than only walking to improve two major determinants of bone fractures: hip BMD and balance.

Further, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) reviewed the available research on the effectiveness of WBV on muscle performance, functional mobility, balance and bone density. The results showed that WBV machines improved bone density in the tibia and hip, but not in the lumbar spine.

But other studies disagreed…

One study published in Aging Clinical Experimental Research looked at the effect of WBV exercise on lumbar bone mineral density, bone turnover, and chronic back pain in postmenopausal osteoporotic women. It found that there were no significant differences in lumbar BMD after use of WBV.

While subjects did report that WBV exercise did reduce back pain, they found that any increases in lumbar BMD were similar to those in the control groups.

A second study looked at whether low-magnitude, high-frequency mechanical stimuli from WBV helped prevent postmenopausal bone loss.

They reported the WBV machine failed to support any changes in bone density.

Additionally, a study published in Maturitas examined vibration exposure on muscle or bone morphology (the study of form) and function in older adults.

Using a literature search of published randomised control trials (RCTs) they found 6 trials that met the inclusion criteria. All statistically significant improvements were shown for muscle function, not bone mineral density.

The mixed results may be due to irregularities and inconsistencies in study design. While further research is needed, the focus on uniformity will be crucial for future trials. In other words, investigating optimal dose-response relationships and variations in vibration characteristics, which will help determine true efficacy.

In addition, while the focus is on WBV machines (and rightly so) the trials didn’t seem to incorporate important bone-building aspects such as diet and nutrition. Exercise is just one part of a successful bone health program. You also need the vitamins and minerals that your bones crave!

But before we get into that…what are the potential safety concerns to consider when using a WBV machine?

Given that older adults and individuals with physical impairments are at a higher risk of experiencing adverse effects from WBV stimuli, it’s important to speak to your doctor if you’re thinking about trying WBV machines.

WBV machine manufacturers are subject to FDA guidelines stating that individuals who have one of the following conditions should not partake in WBV training:

  • kidney or bladder stones
  • arrhythmia
  • pregnancy
  • epilepsy or seizures
  • cancer
  • a pacemaker
  • untreated orthostatic hypotension
  • recent implants (joint/corneal/cochlear, etc.)
  • recent surgery
  • recently placed intrauterine devices or pins
  • acute thrombosis or a hernia
  • acute rheumatoid arthritis
  • serious cardiovascular disease
  • severe diabetes
  • migraines

Elderly woman consults doctor

“I have osteoporosis. Will vibration therapy help my bones?”

There is evidence for both sides of the argument. So if you’re keen to try a vibration machine, you need consider the pros and cons:

WBV therapy may be beneficial as part of a falls prevention program, and studies we discussed above did find that WBV provided some benefit for bone density.

However, vibrations may be detrimental to the spinal bones if they are very fragile. If you have very severe osteoporosis, you’d need to be careful when using the machine, and also when getting on and off. And based on the varied results reported in the literature, we’re reluctant to conclude that WBV would be beneficial for everyone.

That’s why it’s really important to discuss consult your doctor or physiotherapist prior to using a vibration machine.


Increasing Bone Density – What Works?

Researchers have different opinions and there isn’t a clear answer about the effectiveness of WBV, yet. However, we’re excited to see what new research uncovers.

But for now, consider sticking to clinically proven solutions.

That includes incorporating weight bearing exercise suitable for your fitness level. It can be as simple as a nice walk, yoga or tennis. It also means eating a diet that is highly nutritious, taking care of your gut health to aid proper absorption, and continuing with your AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost to ensure your bones get the essential minerals they need.

Your bones need exercise, but they also need the nutrients they crave.

Let us know if you’ve used vibration machines before in the comments below. It’s a polarizing topic, but we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments
Monique van Etten

Hello Dean,

I have a juvent machine, which must improve bone density.
I have none off the conditons mentioned above.
Is a juvent different than the machines mentioned above and
Is t helpfull or not to stand on it ?

Monica

Hi Monique,

Their website states that it is not a Whole Body vibration Machine and is instead a Low-Magnitude, High-Frequency Mechanical Stimulation. Both of which are discussed in the article. They cite the following study on their website http://oncology.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2499778&resultClick=3 which used a Low-Magnitude, High-Frequency Mechanical Stimulation device.

It’s recommended to consult your doctor or physiotherapist prior to using a vibration machine as they will take into consideration your bone health and physical fitness.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Betty Hopper

I use a vibration machine prior to and following bone density exercises. I go to a place called OsteoStrong where I do 4 exercises and hold for 5 seconds each. These are called biodensity exercises. In a span of 10 months going once a week, my bone density improved (according to DEXA Scans) from -2.4 to -1.5. My PCP said that was an indeed a significant improvement. The vibration machines are for blood circulation. I do the vibration machine for 2-3 minutes prior and 2-3 minutes following the biodensity exercises. The cost is $59/monthly for one visit per week. Needless to say, I’ve been thrilled with the results. The company (OsteoStrong) has opened many locations across the U.S. I’m a walking/talking testimony to the fact this works. But I also eat lots of vegetables and watch out for too many sugary treats. And I try to keep my diet 80/20 alkaline to acid. So my diet is also part of the equation that improved my bone density.
Thank you!
Betty Hopper
Huntsville, AL

Monica

Sounds like you’re doing all the right things, Betty! Keep it up and thanks so much for sharing.

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Evy Mellichamp

It’s obvious that Algae Cal and Strontium build bone density. Has anyone tried Osteostrong, in addition?

Monica

Hi Evy,

It looks like Betty has tried it. See her comment above 🙂

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Cydya

My bone density increased by 8.3% over 2 years of using WBV and changing my diet. I did not use any medication, I walked every day. I had to stop using WBV because I no longer had access to a machine. The results of my last density test, indicating that I had lost bone, made it quite clear to me that it works. I now have a machine in my home.

Monica

Thanks for sharing your experience!

So great to hear about your positive results. 🙂

– Monica from AlgaeCal

Theresa

Cydya
This is awesome to hear, as I have a HyperVibe, WBV machine and I love it. I bought it 1 1/2 yrs ago as a means of being proactive with my health. Just 2 months ago, I was diagnosed with -2.5 bone density reading. I just ordered AlgaCal and Stontium, so it will be interesting to see how they work together to give me an increased reading next time around.

Thanks for sharing your stories here on this forum. It helps lots!

Theresa

Susan M Wellman

This type of machine was originally invented by NASA to counteract the effects of prolonged weighlessness on bone density. That is pretty impressive in itself. Also, I have read about decreased incidence of bone fractures after a few months of vibration therapy. That is more relevant than bone density scans. I use your product and a vibration machine too. Why not do all I can to get better? These therapies need not be seen as competitors, but as complementary.

Monica

Hi Susan,

Absolutely! We agree and believe that reclaiming your bone health involves a complete regimen including diet, nutrition, exercise, and supplementation.

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

Donna

I purchased a William Powers Fitness Machine used with no instructions. I can only say it was the best investment I have made. I have 5 herniated discs and I have improved so much due to this machne. At 75 yrs old and in so much pain, I figured I could do this and IT WORKED. The company is out of business and I am scared it will one day brake down. Not only that, my weight is down and my sister swears I look so much better she is trying to find one. I will get a new one no matter what. Donna

Miriam

I once read that it is this sort of treatment the astronauts have on returning from space, as they have to restore bone loss quickly, or they would fall apart. Whatever they do works.

Monica

Hi Miriam,

Yes, it’s definitely true that astronauts lose bone mineral density at a much quicker pace because of zero gravity! I hadn’t heard they used vibration machines once returning from space before – thanks for sharing that.

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

Beverly Northeast

I have been using a machine for two years and taking algae cal for less than one year and I am free of pain, and do all the activities I have always done and my last bone density showed I had improved.

Ann

If the vibrating machines actually do increase BMD at some sites, wouldn’t the benefits diminish when you no longer use them? Exercises, especially ones that need no special equipment, are more viable for the long term.

Talitha L Bayerlein

I have been using one for the last 6 months and that sore feeling you get after a long day of working outdoors etc. just melts away and I sleep so much deeper than before due to being totally relaxed.

Also my body is solid like a rock now before I couldn’t tone certain areas this machine works all over.
I use mine daily for 10 min. , and love it.

Monica

Hi Talitha,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with vibration machines. Very interesting that it is helping you sleep deeper!

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

Elizabeth Appell

I have severe osteoporosis. In an attempt to increase my bone density, I use a WBV at home, smaller than the ones a the downtown workout place. I do it about 10 minutes a day. Walk about 10 minutes a day (have a bad hip.) I need to up my walking time. I had breast cancer and have to take Letrozole, an aromatase inhibitor. It degrades my bones about 1% a year which is very disturbing. I have just started the AlgaeCal regimen. Hopefully it with my vegan diet, I will see some improvement.

Edward

After using a vibration machine for about two weeks I had post vitreous detachments in both eyes followed by a retinal tear in one eye. I suspect that the vibration and shaking may help some parts of the body but may be harmful to other parts such as the head.

Monica

Hi Edward,
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. So sorry to hear about the tear and detachments. It’s a great point to consider that the head and other parts may be at much greater risk and vibration could be harmful.

– Monica @ AlgaeCal

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