Whole body vibration therapy 'may reduce' skeletal degeneration
Whole body vibration therapy (WBV) is the kind of buzz-treatment that causes exercise scientists to raise a sceptical eyebrow.
However after a four-year pilot study of the therapy by Associate Professor Belinda Beck from Griffith Health Institute's Musculoskeletal Research Program she has found that long term WBV therapy may reduce the skeletal degeneration associated with ageing.
"Historically, human bone responses to this treatment have been inconsistent," says Associate Professor Beck who is presenting her research at this year's Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2013.
"It has some real supporters and detractors because, while the animal evidence is very clear, effects in humans have been less clear.
"Supporters have suggested the inability to detect vibration-induced skeletal adaptation in some studies may have been because of inadequate trial size or duration and that longer-term stimulus was required, so I decided to test the issue of timing."
As its name implies, the therapy involves simply standing on a device much like a large set of bathroom scales – it feels a bit like the vibration you would feel standing up in the bus.
The mild stimulus and easy technique is appealing to the more frail among us, such as the ones who are most at risk of osteoporosis and falls. There are many people looking for an alternative to osteoporosis medications.
Beck's study measured the bone density and muscle function of a group of post-menopausal women as they undertook a WBV program of between 10-20 minutes a day.
Her results found a clear difference between her control and test groups indicating WBV may have some very positive benefits to long-term users in inhibiting the degeneration of bone density, which can cause osteoporosis.
"In combination with other techniques WBV could be a very positive therapy for people with bone and muscle degeneration conditions," she says.