Whole Body Vibration for Bone Density | Medical Exercise Specialist Report

What do you know about whole body vibration for bone density? Curious? Skeptical? Me too. But with more and more instances of degeneration, chronic illness or long haul preventing the active life that supports bone health, additional means of stimulating both muscle and bone density are always on my mind. 

Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional death in the world. Older women are especially at risk due to decreased strength, reaction skills, balance, and low bone density. 

Falls result in fracture 31% percent of the time and 95% of hip fractures are the result of falls. For those who’ve had a prior fracture, they are twice as at risk for a future fracture. 

Whole body vibration (WBV) was first used by NASA with astronauts as a way to overcome the muscle and bone losses experienced by astronauts in space in the early 60s. 

Why the Need for Whole Body Vibration for Bone Density?

Let me give a little background on why this is so problematic.

Misinformed from perpetuating outdated information from both doctors and trainers (since 2015 evidence of not only increased safety and viability of high impact and high intensity exercise for osteoporotic postmenopausal women is much more promising than prior goals of stopping or slowing losses) 

41% of women over 40 had either osteopenia (>31%) or osteoporosis (>14%) in a 2010 study

Said differently, 31% of women over 40 had osteopenia and more than 30% of women over 60 had osteoporosis. The further from menopause (>10 years the increase in prevalence of osteoporosis = 40% compared to just 5 years post menopause at 9%)

Whole  body vibration increased BMD by 2% with 5 minutes 3x a week (for 6 mos) in postmenopausal women. In physically restricted individuals it’s an alternative to other exercise. In able-bodied, in combination with resistance training, WBV increases results of both muscle and bone regeneration. 

While I wouldn’t advocate only doing whole body vibration for bone density if you’re able to do more, in conjunction with resistance training exercises, impact to your tolerance level, and attention to dietary and gut health, whole body vibration for bone density is an “extra” form of insurance. 

It not only improves bone density, but is beneficial to muscle, balance, and healing or regeneration in the case of injury. 

Whole-body vibration therapy is an intentional biomechanical stimulation of the body using various frequencies of vibrations with the motive of health improvement. Ever since its discovery, this therapy has been extensively used in physiotherapeutic measures and the sports industry. For its property of increasing bone mass and density, space agencies use this therapy on astronauts who return to Earth after long-term space missions to regain lost bone and muscle mass. The potential of this therapy to restore bone mass encouraged researchers to look for its scope in the treatment of age-related bone degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis and sarcopenia, as well as in the correction of posture control and gait in geriatrics and post-menopausal women.”

Mechanisms of Whole Body Vibration for Bone Density (and more)

  • affects bone metabolism, muscle function, muscle training, and the endocrine system
  • Vibration therapy provides anabolic mechanical signals to the bone and musculotendinous systems
  • It improves blood circulation to the bones, ensuring an improved nutrition supply
  • Human adipose-derived stem cell differentiation into osteoblasts is facilitated by vibration therapy
  • inhibiting excessive osteoclast formation  
  • improves bone health by amplifying gap junctional communication in osteocytes 
  • activate the tonic vibration reflex and induce non-voluntary muscular contraction 
  • activation of previously inactive muscle fibers 
  • enhances the endocrine system’s functioning: Growth hormone increases 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139257/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36793830/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27331044/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422949/

Other Episodes You May Like:

Exercise for Bone Density Then and Now: https://www.flippingfifty.com/exercise-for-bone-density/

21 Reasons Weight Training Should Be Mandatory Exercise After 50: https://www.flippingfifty.com/weight-training-should-be-mandatory/

Resources: 

Power Plate: https://www.flippingfifty.com/powerplate USE:  FLIPPING50 for 20% off

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