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Whole Body Vibration Therapy - A Comprehensive Understanding

Whole body vibration therapy has been known for over a century. Not until recent years, has it become more recognized and practiced as vibration machines have become more affordable. Scientific studies on vibration modalities have also started to gain good momentum.

A vibration chair made in 1895 is exhibited in Minnesota Science Museum as an example of pseudoscience.

Experimental research has observed a considerable volume of positive results using whole body vibration (WBV) to treat various health conditions. MEDLINE, the biomedical literature database of US National Library of Medicine, has collected hundreds of research papers and citations on WBV, mostly published in the past few years. These literatures can be accessed via

Health benefits of WBV therapy have been proved in many clinical trials. However, there are still short of accurate and consistent results to adequately evaluate WBV's efficacy, due to the difficulties in designing and implementing strict randomized controlled trials, and establishing quantitative measurement. Issues include insufficient sample size and randomization, inconsistent patient criteria, arbitrary measurements, and placebo effects, etc. Additionally, the multiple variables of vibration interventions, including motion pattern, frequency, amplitude, time, weight and posture, would require many more modality variations designed to cover the combinations of these variables, so as to possibly achieve meaningful conclusions.

Clinical trials for WBV are challenging, costly and time-consuming. On the other hand, there is a lack of financial incentive for large medical companies to invest in research and development of WBV modalities, because the method cannot be patented for the protection of return on investment. Most research trials on WBV are conducted by universities and research institutes with limited public funding. These experiments are in small scales, short-term, and only achieve incomplete conclusions. It will continue to be a challenge to scientifically prove and develop WBV applications.

WBV machine Linear vibration plate VT003F

Nevertheless, as whole body vibration machines have become more available and affordable, many more people are willing to give WBV a try when other medicines fail or not effective. Experiences from a vast number of users and practitioners provide a great alternative approach to study and learn about WBV therapy. Evidence of positive effects are compelling, many life changing stories.

Although referred to as an alternative medicine, WBV therapy may offer essential solutions for certain medical conditions with optimized results that may not be achieved through mainstream medicine. WBV therapy is non-drug, non-invasive and, in a controlled manner, safe to use.

User reported positive treatment, categorized and explained

At Vibration Therapeutic®, we have been passionately studying whole body vibration, its mechanism, applications, limitations, and risks. Through our diligent research, experiments and customer shared experiences, we build up our independent understanding and insights on WBV therapy. While we don't provide advice on individual cases, we share our learnings in our websites and product literature, hoping to involve more audience to join the discussion. We envision whole body vibration therapy to be widely recognized and developed, bringing quality life to a much larger population.

WBV knowledge

Thought: Vibration creates stimulations and generates reactions on our body systems. The impact is physical and unique. With a open mind, we may be able to make it positive.

The statements and hypotheses made in our websites and all other literature are not certified or endorsed by any regulatory authority or medical institute. Readers discretion is advised.

To learn about specific applications of WBV, we highly recommend you to search your topic keywords on PubMed database to access research literature registered with US National Library of Medicine.

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How Does WBV Therapy Work

Whole body vibration therapy utilizes a vibration platform machine to generate and transmit mechanical vibration to the user standing on the machine platform. The vibration induces skeletal muscle’s stretch reflex response, which features a rapidly repeated muscle contraction and relaxation pattern following the pace of vibration frequency. Such a pattern is unique to vibration stimulation. We believe this rapidly repeated muscle contraction is the most fundamental factor of WBV therapy.

Through skeletal muscle’s rapidly repeated contraction and relaxation, whole body vibration can perform the following three major functions.

Vibration Therapy Mechanism Chart
  1. Enhance Peripheral Circulation
    ...... increase peripheral body fluid flow, improve microcirculation and lymphatic drainage.
  2. Activate Tissues
    ...... engage multiple body systems to function and exercise, effectively activate tissues.
  3. Mobilize Cell Regeneration
    ...... initiate cell regeneration and supply building materials.

These functions enhance the functionality of multiple body systems, promoting metabolism, exercising tissues and facilitating self-healing processes. They work in intricate and complementary manner to achieve a comprehensive health condition improvement.

The unique stimulation of vibration may initiate profound cellular processes for cell regeneration. This is probably the most promising potential of WBV therapy, possible a great advantage over traditional medicine. We will closely examine the attributes and effects of this unique stimulation.

Below we discuss the three major functions of whole body vibration therapy in detail.

The Mechanisms of WBV

Circulation improvementPeripheral Circulation Enhancement

medical knowledge

Body fluids are mainly blood, lymph and tissue fluid. They transport and exchange gases and other substances involved in the metabolism process.

Maintaining a healthy body fluid circulation is essential for the supply of oxygen and nutrient to cells and the removal of metabolic wastes.

Whole body vibration increases peripheral body fluid flow. The following two factors contribute to this effect:

  1. Skeletal muscle contraction induced by vibration creates dynamic pulses of pressure to speed up peripheral body fluid flow.
  2. Cellular activities of muscle contraction promote tissue fluids movement and exchange.
improve-peripheral circulationVessels & muscles

Firstly, skeletal muscle's involuntary contraction and relaxation creates repeated pulses of pressure on the adjacent blood (and lymph) vessels, accelerating fluid flow in the vessels. This function is similar to the instinct contraction of smooth muscles of vessel wall, which serves the function of blood distribution. It is just that smooth muscles act inside the vessel wall, while skeletal muscles act from outside of vessel wall at a much faster pace.

Secondly, the physical and chemical cellular processes that perform skeletal muscle contraction involve and lead to intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid movement and exchange, creating an internal drive for body fluid flow.

Controlled research trials have observed significantly higher muscle perfusion in WBV exercises than in the same exercises without vibration. Muscle perfusion indicates the flow rate and volume of blood and lymph in the muscle. Quantitative measurement of blood and lymph volume, flow velocity and vessel diameter can be obtained using Doppler imaging devices.

Compared to cardio exercise, which enhances circulation by actively engaging heart work to pump the blood father, WBV exercise enhances circulation by promoting peripheral body fluid to flow and exchange, supplementing the functionality of the cardiovascular system.

Muscle contraction activity also engages heart work, making WBV a form of cardio exercise. Incorporating vibration in normal physical exercise can achieve optimized over-all circulation improvement results.

Advantage in microcirculation enhancement

WBV therapy are effective in microcirculation enhancement.

Blood flow

At the locations remote from heart and arteries, cardiovascular system’s power is reduced. Medical conditions or lack of physical activity can hinder its ability to push blood through smaller vessels like arterioles, venules, and capillaries, causing microcirculation problem. The force of skeletal muscle contraction induced by vibration can be introduced to the target area to enhance the local circulation.

Capillary network plays an ultimate role of the cardiovascular system. It is where blood delivers oxygen and nutrients, and take away carbon dioxide and wastes. Taking such an important role, capillary is nonetheless the weakest vessel of the cardiovascular system. Tissue damage can impairing the function of capillaries, compromising microcirculation. By effectively increasing peripheral fluid flow, WBV provides a practical solution to enhance microcirculation, accelerating tissue repair in the recovery phase, and reducing fibrous tissue formation.

For elderly or physically weak people that cannot endure extensive physical exercise, WBV therapy can be a practical, and perhaps an essential solution for microcirculation enhancement.

Optimal Solution for Lymphatic Drainage

WBV therapy is particularly effective for lymphatic circulation enhancement.

Unlike cardiovascular system that employs heart to pump the blood, lymphatic system utilizes the natural involuntary rhythmic contraction of vessel wall smooth muscle to move lymph.

Driven by osmotic pressure, interstitial fluid (tissue fluid) flows into lymphatic capillary and becomes lymph. Subsequently lymphatic vessel draws in and pushes lymph to pass through lymph nodes and finally back into blood system. The smooth muscle in the wall of lymph vessel rhythmically contract and generate continuous dynamics of pressure to keep lymph moving on its direction. This is how lymphatic circulation naturally works.

lymphatic and blood capillaries

In WBV exercise, skeletal muscle contraction creates pulses of dynamic pressures on the lymph vessel from outside, assisting vessel smooth muscle's contraction pressure from inside. The combined pressure effectively keeps lymph moving in the vessel. The mechanism that vibration increases peripheral body fluid flow collaborates the best way with the natural mechanism of lymphatic system, making WBV a perfect solution to enhance lymph circulation.

In fact, our body does naturally count on regular skeletal muscle contraction to assist lymph movement, to maintain a healthy lymph circulation. When physical exercise is not sufficient, WBV exercise can practically fulfill this role,

Medical conditions can impair lymph circulation. So-called lymphatic drainage problem is excessive interstitial fluid accumulation in muscles. Such accumulation can cause swelling, infection or cancer because toxins and wastes are trapped in the tissue. Vibration induced muscle contraction and cellular activities can help get interstitial fluid into lymph capillary network, then drawn out by lymph vessel, accomplishing lymphatic drainage.

WBV therapy perfectly collaborates with lymphatic system’s natural processes. It is a direct physical approach to enhance lymph circulation and improve lymphatic drainage.


Another method that utilizing external force to improve lymphatic drainage is massage. Massage is effective for capillary lymph movement because 70% of lymph capillary networks are under the surface of skin. The combination of WBV and massage therapy can achieve a better and overall lymphatic drainage results. While massage improves the situation in capillaries under the surface of skin, vibration improves the situation in capillaries deep in muscle tissues and assist lymph flow in its vessels.

In summary, whole body vibration enhances circulation through increasing peripheral body fluid flow. The effect is mainly achieved by the rapidly repeated muscle contraction and cellular activities. Its mechanism collaborates well with the natural mechanisms of our cardiovascular system and lymphatic system.  For microcirculation and lymphatic circulation improvement, vibration therapy may have advantage over regular physical exercises and other treatment. Utilizing external force, vibration exercise requires less physical strength and workload to achieve a better result in circulation enhancement, making it a practical solution for elderly or physically weak people to use on regular basis.

Whole body vibration is not to substitute the role of physical exercise to improve circulation. However, incorporating WBV in regular physical can achieve optimized result efficiently and effectively. For certain medical conditions, WBV therapy may be more practical in circulation enhancement.

Effective Tissue Activation

Physical exercise

Our body tissues need to keep activated to maintain their performance and functionality. Regular physical exercise is essential for tissue activation. Adding whole body vibration to your regular physical exercise routine may allow you to achieve better tissue activation more efficiently and effectively. WBV engages our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system to function and exercise. The rapidly repeated stretch reflex response drives muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and peripheral nerves to perform each of their own functions, keeping them activated.

WBV exercise consumes more effort and energy. For instance, if you do squat exercise on a 30Hz vertical movement vibration plate, besides doing voluntary up and down repetitions, you are also having 30 tiny involuntary up and down repetitions in every second in respond to the vibration stimulation. Your leg muscles contract 30 times in a second, which pulls or presses other tissues including tendons, ligaments, and bones 30 times in a second. Each tiny repetition involves its metabolic process and ATP consumption. This effect makes WBV exercise more efficient then normal physical exercise.

WBV exercise

In a WBV exercise, vibration acceleration (G-force) creates pulses of increased resistance force on muscles and connected tissues. This increases the effectiveness of tissue activation. In each vibration circle, the peak force reaches a very high value but only lasts a tiny fraction of a second. This peak force probably contributes to the extend of tissue activation. Due to its short period, the counter force of muscle contraction is not intensive. Therefore, WBV exercise does not require high physical strength to achieve better tissue activation, suitable for senior people to use on daily basis to prevent muscle atrophy and age related bone resorption.

In WBV exercise, it is easily observed that muscles reach fatigue and achieve hypertrophy much faster than in a regular physical exercise without vibration. Increased stress on muscle benefits muscle growth. Athletes use WBV exercise to achieve faster result in muscle building, in less exercise time and less repetitions.

Neuromuscular functionality plays a central role in muscle’s stretch reflex response. In respond to stretch stimulation of vibration, nervous system command and coordinate certain muscles to contract, and certain other muscles to relax in a rapid pace. The process exercises the nervous system and improve its functionality in balance, motor and gait. tissue activationClinical studies have been conducted to explore using whole body vibration therapy to treat neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy, and have achieved positive results.

Whole body vibration exercise can achieve combined effects of both cardio exercise and resistance exercise. The rapid muscle contraction engages cardiovascular system to work better, and the G-force adds tension to the musculoskeletal reactions. As WBV exercises the body tissues, the enhanced circulation helps bringing oxygen and nutrients, and taking away the wastes. This combined effects allow us to achieve better tissue activation and keep our body in high energy status.

Cell Regeneration Mobilization

Scientific understanding of cellular processes and their molecular mechanism is limited, much more less is on vibration's influence in this regard. Common assumption is that mechanical stimulation, at a certain magnitude and form, may impact cellular processes. Because vibration stimulation has such unique attributes, it is worthwhile to explore its mechanism and potential applications. With limited evidence and short of science theory, we can always try to learn with a hypothesis. It is possible that WBV therapy can mobilizes cell regeneration processes.

In WBV, the repeated pulses of intensive skeletal muscle contraction force can reach a high peak value, and last only a tiny fraction of a second. Such an intensive mechanical stimulation may have profound impact on our cellular processes, and play a constructive role in cell regeneration.


Scientists have been studying molecular mechanisms of cells in response to mechanical stimulation. It is suggested that high intensive mechanical stimulation may boost the performance of various proteins, influence gene expression, and regulate stem cell differentiation. Studies have been conducted to use mechanical stimulation to enhance tissue engineering processes. The results seem to be promising.

Vibration is often utilized as a mechanical stimulation in research experiments. Its repeated pulses of intensive force is considered effective in signaling and regulating molecular activities, for the production of cells, hormone, enzymes for tissue regeneration.

Naturally, our muscles are capable of repair and regeneration after minor tears and bruising. However, severe physical injury can lead to extensive fibrous tissue formation in the repair process. Fibrous tissues, in place of the original muscle tissues, impair the functionality of the muscles, and are very difficult to restore. Repeated mechanical stimulation induced by vibration, through its impact on cellular processes, may lead to the resorption of fibrous tissues and regeneration of real muscle tissues, and ultimately resume skeletal muscle’s strength and functionality. Vibration therapy has been proved effective to speed up the rehabilitation process for muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is especially effective to treat chronic injuries, and restore "dead" tissues.


WBV has been known for treating bone loss. Experimental research suggests that WBV induced skeletal muscle contraction creates pulling force on bones with enough magnitude to initiate bone formation process. The unique pulsed intense stimulation activates and signals body system to produce hormone and building materials needed for osteoblasts to grow. Osteoblasts are cells that secrete structural substance needed for bone formation. Randomized controlled clinical trials have provided quantitative evidences that WBV is effective to improve bone density and treat age related bone resorption.

WBV mobilizes the body systems to supply needed cell building material and essential substances. In the meantime, the WBV enhanced circulation facilitate oxygen and nutrients supply, as well as metabolic waste removal. These effects work together to create a synergy of body system mobilization for cell regeneration.

Although not sufficiently analyzed and scientifically proven, countless cases of effective tissue repair using WBV therapy have been reported and observed in practices and research experiments. Most effective results are the repair and regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues, including muscles, bones and connective tissues.

The Essence of Vibration Therapy

The mechanism of vibration therapy in essence is to activate and mobilize our body systems to function for the wellness. Vibration induced skeletal muscle's stretch reflex response, which initiate a series of reactions and achieve the benefits in circulation improvement, tissue activation and cell regeneration.

vibration therapy - self healing

Aging, sickness or lack of physical exercise can hinder our body systems' functionality in communication, coordination and material supply.  WBV therapy can be an practical and effective solution to enhance these functionality in a natural way.

Besides engaging cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system and nervous system to function and exercise, whole body vibration may trigger more sophisticated and profound biological processes on multiple body systems, to achieve our overall health and wellness.

The treatment approach of whole body vibration therapy is not just to pinpoint an isolated medical condition and depress or relieve the symptom. Rather, WBV therapy, taking our body in its entirety, activates and facilitate our natural biological processes, mobilizes our instinctive functionality, and achieves fundamental health condition improvement.

WBV Applications

Whole body vibration can have a broad range of medical and fitness applications. Most effective medical applications are for the treatment of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders, including circulation issues (blood and lymph), soft tissue injuries, bone loss and balance and motor skill problems.

WBV training

In treating some age-related degeneration issue and chronic tissue damage, WBV therapy may have advantage over mainstream medicines. WBV's applications seem to be unlimited. Scientific studies on WBV's cellular processes and molecular mechanism have been showing even more promising and fundamental medical applications.

Whole body vibration therapy is suitable for people of different ages and conditions. Children with spastic cerebral palsy use WBV to improve balance and motor skills; Senior people use it to fight muscle atrophy and bone loss; Athletes use it for muscle building and injury recovery. We believe a majority of population can benefit from using whole body vibration on regular basis.

Weight loss effects have been reported by many WBV users. Because too many factors can contribute to weight change, it is difficult to design a research trial to isolate and evaluate WBV’s effectiveness on weight loss. Although WBV increases energy consumption over normal exercise, the additional calorie burned is not significant for weight loss. Our hypothesis is that WBV contributes to weight loss by increasing resting metabolic rate. As WBV therapy activates tissues, and enhances circulation, it improves the multiple body systems' functionality and increases resting metabolic rate. Therefore our body systems are able to burn calories more effectively in our basic body activities like circulation, respiration, brain activities, and cell growth activities, achieving weight loss effect.

We at Vibration Therapeutic are in the process of building a separate forum website to engage vibration therapy users, practitioners and scientists to share and discuss their experiences, knowledge and concerns about whole body vibration.

Whole Body Vibration Postures

WBV exercise postures should be designed to allow vibration to induce skeletal muscle's stretch reflex responses, because our purpose is to achieve muscle contraction. Keeping vibration movement direction aligned with muscle's axis can maximize the stretch effect and create the most intensive muscle contraction.

vibration knowledge

Some vibration plates are designed to have horizontal side to side movement. We consider this type of movement can be detrimental to collateral ligaments and patellofemoral groove.

Free weight exercises fit perfect with vertical movement type of vibration machines. In a free weight exercise, muscle's contraction force is maximized to overcome the vibration accelerated gravity of body and weight.

Examples of effective free weight exercises on a whole body vibration plate are squat, calf raise and deadlift You can performance these exercises with or without holding a weight. However, holding a weight, even a small pair of dumbbells can help you keep the posture correct and maximize the vertical resistance on muscles. You can also use a kettlebell and a barbell for free weight exercises.

Stretch postures can be creatively adopted to introduce vibration to target muscles and create contraction. Keeping the muscle stretch direction vertical on a vertical movement vibration plate can maximize the muscle contraction force.

Postures and movements that can directly impact joint bones and cartilage disks should be avoided. For the standing posture on a WBV machine, knees should always keep bent

Our team at Vibration Therapeutic® is working on videos and pictures that demonstrate our recommended exercise postures. Please check back soon.

Vibration Frequency

In WBV exercise, user's body responds differently to different vibration frequency. The frequency represents the level of energy stored in the vibration. The higher the frequency, the higher the energy stored.

In WBV exercise, vibration energy is transferred from the vibration machine to the human body. It is important to be aware that the energy received by the human body not only related to the level of energy stored within the vibration machine, but also related to how much energy is actually transferred from the vibration machine to our body.

When the vibration machine’s frequency equals the natural frequency of a body tissue, the body tissue responds with the highest vibration amplitude. This phenomenon is called resonance. The frequency at resonance is called resonance frequency. At resonance frequency, the energy transfer from the vibration machine to the human body is most efficient.

The natural frequencies of human organs and tissues are mostly ranged from 10Hz to 50Hz. In vibration exercise, tissue activation intensifies at resonance frequency. That is when the vibration machine’s frequency is at the same level of the organ's natural frequency.

Most vibration machines on the market are designed to work at the frequency range from 5Hz to 50Hz, variable or fixed. Vibration frequency 50Hz and below is generally considered safe for human exposure.

Intensive stimulation on certain organs may cause discomfort for some people, more often when the vibration frequency is above 30Hz. The sweet spot for one person may be a discomfort zone for another. Therefore, identifying the needs and finding the right vibration frequency is essential for anyone to make the best use of a whole body vibration machine.

There are two major types of vibration machines on the market, pivotal oscillation type and linear vibration type. Because of its designed structure, the maximum vibration frequency a pivotal oscillation machine can achieve is usually below 15Hz, while a linear vibration machine can generate much higher frequency, ranged from 15Hz to 50Hz.

Risks and Limitations

WBV knowledge

Just like it can create positive influence to your health, WBV can also adversely impact you.

New users should always progress in a slow pace. Be patient and persistent to achieve your goal.

In a controlled manner, WBV therapy is considered as a safe and non-invasive treatment. However, its treatment modalities and dosage have not been well studied and documented. Unsuitable frequency, amplitude, session time and posture may not lead to positive results, or even worsen the condition.

Dizziness and nausea are the mostly reported negative experience for vertical type vibration plate because the vibration is transmitted to stomach and head, causing the upset.

Few users report prolonged vision bur after WBV exercise.

Vibration therapy should NOT be used for soft tissue injuries if there are still external or internal bleeding conditions.

Standing on a vibration plate can cause impact on knee joints, much like walking or running. For people that have a damaged knee bone or cartilage disks, impact on these tissues should be avoided. Doing half squat posture can help reduce the impact on these hard tissues. Half squat posture help enhance muscles, bones and connecting tissues, which can ease the knee problem and improve the joint functionality.

consult a therapiest

Please discuss vibration therapy with you physician to decide if vibration therapy is a good fit for your situation. It is generally advised that, for people with serious health problem, the use of vibration therapy should be closely directed by medical professionals or totally avoided. Pregnant women should not use whole body vibration therapy.

MEDLINE registered clinic trials in general find no detrimental effect or side effect from the designed WBV treatment modalities. However, excessive exposure to intensive vibration can pose a health hazard. Studies have found certain body function disorders or injuries correlated to population that operate vibratory vehicles or machineries as professions. Whole body vibration therapy, in a controlled manner, should be safe to practice. We strongly recommend people practice WBV therapy in a slow progressive pace.

WBV is not to replace regular exercise. People should not solely rely on vibration therapy for circulation improvement and tissue activation. We strongly suggest using a combination of regular exercise, diet, with vibration therapy for optimized health and fitness results. Adding WBV in the regular physical exercise can achieve optimized results.

Profound understanding of the mechanisms of whole body vibration therapy requires cross discipline knowledge. Our discussions focus on the effects of vibration and the logical reasoning and connection of their influences on human body.


We are not medical professionals. Our statements, hypothesis, analysis and conclusions have not been evaluated by any regulatory authority or medical institute. Reader's discretion is advised.

Discussions are welcome. Please email to


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