Can We Reduce Bone Fractures and Falls in The Elderly with Whole Body Vibration Training?

Uma Shankari By Uma Shankari, 19th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Health Clubs & Spas>Alternative therapies

Whole body vibration (WBV) is useful for the rehabilitation of the elderly people to enhance bone mass and to provide sensory stimulation and induce reflex muscle activation. This helps to prevent bone fractures.

Why Whole Body Vibration Training?

Bone fractures resulting from falls are commonplace among the elderly. The risk is higher for post-menopausal women. As bone mass starts declining in adulthood, exercises, especially the weight-bearing ones, are recommended by doctors as one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activities like jogging, jumping, and stair climbing exert full weight on your feet and legs. Research shows Whole Body Vibrational Training (WBVT) is MORE effective than the weight-bearing exercises. The mild stress exerted on the bones by the vibrations causes bone cells called osteocytes to activate osteoclasts, which remove damaged areas of bone, and osteoblasts, which form new bone. The end result is denser, stronger bones.

The additional stimulus that WBVT provides to the nerve system challenges the postural reflexes leading to improvements in balance and postural awareness on a subconscious level. This helps the elderly to maintain postural control and balance and reduce falls and fractures. WBVT is also useful for rehabilitating injuries in sportsmen and athletes. Rapid contraction and relaxation of the muscles, up to 50 times per second, improves blood circulation, increases endocrine activity and growth hormone levels and alleviates main symptoms of fibromyalgia.

What is Whole Body Vibration?

Whole body vibration has been gaining attention from body builders for strength building. It is based on Rhythmic Neuromuscular Stimulation (RNS) and dates back to the 1960s when Soviet scientists developed techniques that would prevent muscle atrophy and bone loss of their cosmonauts who had limited physical activity for long periods of time. Since then, Russian ballet dancers used vibration to heal minor muscle injuries such as Achilles tendonitis and to enhance their muscular strength and jump height.

How Does WBV Training Work?

Whole Body Vibrational Training uses a platform that vibrates in three planes: vertical, horizontal and sagittal (front to back). You can simply stand on the platform and hang out for several minutes, or you can perform squats, lunges, push-ups and the like on the platform.

Vibration machines work on the principle of multiplying your own body weight through G-Force to increase the load that your muscles have to work against. The platform produces oscillating vibrations that are in turn delivered to the entire body.

Theories have been put forward for why vibration training has a beneficial effect on muscles and bone mass. The vibrations cause acceleration forces on the body that make the muscle fibers stretch and the signals are sent to the central nervous system. The central nervous system then sends signals back to the muscles in question, and these contracts to counteract the stretching. This happens unconsciously and more muscles are activated than what happens in a conscious movement. The continuous flow of micro adjustments and reflexive contractions occur in the hard-to-train fast-twitch (type 2) muscle fibers. The left-to-right, and front-to-back movements improve the body's balance and coordination. The net result is a dramatic improvement in strength and power, flexibility, balance, tone and leanness.
Side Effects and Safety Issues

No long-term study has been done regarding the use of whole-body vibration therapy.

The elderly people and those recovering from recent surgery must make sure the vibration stimuli or the stretch stimuli not to be too intense and neither last too long, as this will lead to the affected muscles being exhausted.

Obviously, if you have health problems such as heart disease or high blood pressure, you will want to consult with your health care provider before starting a new fitness program. Similarly, those with implants (pedicle screws, etc) should consult the doctor/surgeon to ensure safe levels for vibration training.

Whole Body Vibrational Training proves that exercise does not have to be difficult and time consuming to provide great benefits. The near-total muscle fiber recruitment of WBVT translates into a great high-intensity workout that is performed two to three times a week and is completed within 10 minutes.

Read Also:


Rehabilitation After Surgery, Rhythmic Neuromuscular Stimulation, Wbvt For Sports People, Whole Body Vibration

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author avatar Uma Shankari
I write on society, relationships, travel, health, nutrition and fitness.
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