To Vibrate or Not to Vibrate?

Recently, an interesting randomized placebo controlled “Vibration to Improve Bone in Elderly Subjects” (“VIBES”) trial conducted by some of my favorite researchers (Mary Bouxsein and Clint Rubin) revealed that 2 years of vibration platforms as compared to placebo controls did NOT result in bone density increases in the vertebral bodies or femoral neck nor bone marker improvements in subjects of average age 82. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25581217

174 men and women (89 active, 85 controls) were exposed to either 10 minutes of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) on a standing platform or a placebo platform daily for 2 years.  At the 2-year follow-up, biochemical bone markers and bone density as tested by QCT did not improve. 

Clint Rubin, Vibration Researcher

Clint Rubin, Vibration Researcher

The results do not surprise me.  I have never been a fan of vibration platforms for older adults…they are too expensive and can’t really be practically used for the masses especially if 1 in every 2 people over age 50 have low BMD.  If they were effective for improving bone density in older adults and a vibration “floor” could be designed to vibrate 50 people at a time in a group class, I am all for it!  Sounds like my gut feeling was right all along. We need to stop depending on devices and keep moving our own bodies against gravity!

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2 responses to “To Vibrate or Not to Vibrate?

  1. Just published Mar 2015: Liphart AM, et al. Bone quality in osteopenic postmenopausal women is not improved after 12 months of whole-body vibration training. Osteoporos Int. 2015 Mar;26(3):911-20. doi: 10.1007/s00198-014-2995-8.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25567775

  2. In response to questions from the NOF Community Forum:
    “I do not believe that people need a Pilates studio to maintain their function, strength or BMD. All you really need is body weight, gravity and a few household items. As for those that can’t exercise, who are they? A rare few people who are wheelchair bound or have paralysis (yes, like Christopher Reeves) could benefit from a vibration device, but they actually have much bigger problems than BMD. Vibration can help astronauts maintain their BMD in space. But, we really aren’t talking about those types of folks. We are talking about the average older adult trying to stay healthy as they age. My belief is that we need to get outside, walk and do as dynamic strengthening as possible. I can’t stand the thought that our well being depends upon a high tech device. However, if that device shows promising results and you have the resources to pay for it…go for it!”

    I am impressed that Clint Rubin is seeking the truth and not afraid to publish negative results. He is an authentic scientist!

    To sum it up, I am just not a fan of expensive devices that are not available or affordable for older adults on a fixed income. If recreation centers and fitness facilities could get the whole floor to vibrate under 50 people at a time, I am all for it! People really need to focus on postural alignment, awareness of every day activities, balance and keeping their legs strong. Good balance, alignment and leg strength can prevent falls and fractures!”

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