Vibration Therapy Mechanism
How Does Vibration Therapy Work
Millions of vibration plates have been sold around the world in the past few years. As vibration plates become more affordable, more and more people are willing to give vibration therapy a try. The benefits are increasingly recognized for treating many types of medical conditions.
Scientific studies on vibration therapy have been gaining momentum. Medical professionals are intrigued by this unique treatment modality.
Hundreds of clinical trials have been registered with ClinicalTrials.gov on vibration therapy. Countless research papers have been published on National Library of Medicine. Scientists have observed and approved a wide range of health benefits of using vibration therapy.
However, current scientific studies on vibration therapy are still in their preliminary stage. The understanding of the treatment applications is very limited, not sufficient to conclude any specific treatment modality in terms of procedure, dosage and efficacy. The mechanism and theory of vibration therapy are yet to be developed.
Explorers did not wait until scientific guidelines are available. Many of them are rewarded with positive results in their experiments. Vibration therapy has demonstrated its unique effectiveness in treating some hard-to-diagnose or hard-to-treat medical conditions that the mainstream medicine has failed.
Vibration therapy is not a mystery. It is not about energy field or other magic powers.
In fact, vibration therapy can be explained using our knowledge of modern medicine.
Vibration therapy can be simply considered as a modality that utilize vibration stimulation as a medical intervention for therapeutic purposes.
Studies about vibration therapy are about what influence the vibration stimulation can apply to the human body, positively and negatively.
Vibration therapy research involves the disciplines of physics, medicine and other sciences.but a science
So, what influence vibration stimulation can apply to the human body, specially.
Pulse of Intensive Mechanical Stimulation.
Vibration stimulation is unique because it can create rapid repeated mechanical stimulation on human body. We can make a vibration machine with designed frequency and amplitude to achieve our desired pace and magnitude of stimulation.
The stimulation comes from the vibration acceleration - G-force. It changes between the max positive value and the max negative value in each vibration cycle. G-force multiplies the mass of your body, but in a short pulse pattern.
Rapidly Repeated Muscle Contraction
Vibration induces our skeletal muscle's stretch reflex response. It causes rapidly repeated muscle contraction. This kind of contraction pattern can not be achieved through regular physical activity.
Skeletal muscle contraction influences the connecting tissues including tendons, ligaments, nerves and bones. In fact, vibration stimulation activates the functionality of our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system. This is the starting point of the vibration therapy.
The benefits of vibration therapy mainly come from this rapidly repeated muscle contraction.
Through rapidly repeated muscle contraction, vibration stimulation effectively activates and exercises our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system. The muscle contraction and relaxation activities also promote the circulation of blood, lymph and tissue fluid in the adjacent tissues.
At multiple levels, vibration stimulation can achieve three major health improving effects.
- System functionally activation
- Peripheral circulation promotion
- Cell Regeneration
Our body systems need to keep activated for their health. Regular physical exercise is essential for the activation. Adding vibration exercise to regular physical exercise can better satisfy this requirement.
Vibration's pulsed intensive mechanical stimulation engages our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system to exercise more effectively, maintaining the performance and functionality of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and peripheral nerves.
Vibration therapy enhances the functionality of body systems, exercises tissues, boosts metabolism, and facilitate our self-healing processes. All these effects work together in an intricate and complementary manner, and achieve a comprehensive health condition improvement.
The unique vibration stimulation may initiate profound cellular processes for tissue regeneration.
Peripheral Circulation Enhancement
Vibration therapy promotes peripheral body fluid flow. Body fluids are mainly blood, lymph and tissue fluid. They transport and exchange gases and other substances needed in the metabolism processes. Maintaining a healthy body fluid circulation is essential for the supply of oxygen and nutrient to cells and the removal of metabolic wastes.
The rapidly repeated skeletal muscl contraction and relaxation induced by vibration applies fast pulse of pressure on the adjacent blood and lymph vessels, accelerating fluid flow in the vessels.
The involuntary skeletal muscle contraction cooperates with the instinct vascular smooth muscle contraction. The two contraction forces work together to boost the liquid transmission and distribution in the peripheral circulation system. Vascular smooth muscles work inside the vessels in a slow pace, while skeletal muscles work from outside of vessels in a much faster pace.
Muscle contraction involves cellular activities that also promote tissue fluid flow. The physical and chemical cellular processes that perform skeletal muscle contraction involve and lead to intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid transmission and exchange, creating an internal drive for tissue fluid flow.
Compared to cardio exercise, which enhances circulation by engaging heart-work to pump the blood farther, vibration exercise enhances circulation by promoting peripheral body fluid flow and exchange, supplementing the functionality of the cardiovascular system.
Vibration therapy is particularly effective for achieving microcirculation improvement.
Inside tissues, blood circulation and exchange relies on the microcirculation system, which is composed of smaller vessels including arterioles, venules, and capillaries.
The blood pressure generated by heart and arteries is weakened when reaching into smaller vessels. Muscle contraction can put additional pressure outside the smaller vessels to boost blood flow and distribution.
Capillary vessels play the ultimate task of the cardiovascular system: delivering oxygen and nutrients, and taking away carbon dioxide and wastes.
Tissue damage can impair capillary vessel's functionality, compromising microcirculation. While the power of cardiovascular system become weak when reaching capillary, vibration therapy can be use to improve microcirculation, accelerating tissue repair in the recovery process.
For elderly or physically weak people that cannot endure extensive physical exercise, vibration therapy can be a practical, and perhaps essential solution for microcirculation enhancement.
Vibration therapy is an optimal solution for lymphatic drainage.
Unlike cardiovascular system which employs heart to pump the blood, lymphatic system mainly relies on lymphatic vessel contraction and tissue fluid osmotic pressure move the lymph.
Tissue fluids flow into lymphatic capillaries and become lymph. The flow is driven by osmotic pressure. Subsequently lymph is drawn into lymphatic vessels, then passes through lymph nodes and finally returns to the blood circulation system. The smooth muscles in the walls of lymph vessels rhythmically contract and produce continuous pressure to keep lymph moving on its direction. This is how lymphatic circulation naturally works.
However, lymphatic vessel contraction and osmotic pressure are not enough for a health lymphatic circulation. Muscle movements are also essential for assisting the lymph move. This is where the rapidly repeated muscle contraction can help.
With vibration stimulation, the rapidly repeated skeletal muscle contraction creates pulses of pressure outside of the lymph vessel. In the meantime the contraction of vessel smooth muscles creates pressure inside the vessel. The combined pressures effectively move lymph in the vessels.
The mechanism that vibration increases peripheral body fluid flow collaborates well with the natural mechanism of lymphatic circulation, making vibration therapy an optimal solution for lymph circulation enhancement.
Medical conditions can impair lymph circulation. The accumulation of excessive tissue fluids in the tissues can cause swelling, infection or cancer because toxins and wastes trapped in the tissues. Muscle contraction and cellular activities can enhance lymphatic drainage by driving tissue fluids into lymph system and drawing the lymph back to the blood circulation system.
A healthy lymph circulation needs certain physical activity to keep muscles move. When the physical activity is not enough, or medical condition causing lymph flow problem, vibration therapy can effectively and efficiently fulfill this role.
Studies show that through vibration exercise, skeletal muscles reach fatigue and achieve hypertrophy much faster than in regular physical exercise. Muscle fatigue promotes muscle growth.
Muscle and strength training with vibration stimulation is more efficient and effective.
For example, when you do squat exercise on a 30Hz vertical movement vibration plate, besides doing voluntary up and down repetitions, you are also doing 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. The contraction pulls or presses the connecting tissues 30 times in a second. Each tiny repetition involves its metabolic processes and ATP consumption.
Athletes use vibration exercise to achieve muscle building result faster, less exercise time and less repetitions.
Tissue Degeneration Prevention
Lack of physical activity, aging and medical conditions can cause tissue degeneration, like muscle atrophy, tendon and ligament deterioration, and bone resorption.
Tissue degeneration often happens to senior and physically weak people who are not able to keep a sufficient physical exercise activities.
Vibration exercise does not have to be physically stressful to achieve a good exercise results. It fits well for senior and physically weak people to fight tissue degeneration.
Nerve Disorder Treatment
Neuromuscular functionality plays the commending role in muscle's stretch reflex response. In respond to stretch stimulation of vibration, nervous system command and coordinate certain muscles to contract, and other muscles to relax rapidly. The process exercises the nervous system and improve its communication functions, enhancing balance, motor skills and gait.
Clinical studies have been conducted to explore using whole body vibration therapy to treat neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease and cerebral palsy. There are many positive results.
The improvement of circulation from vibration therapy also contributes to nerve health by supplying sufficient nutrients to nerve cells.
Vibration therapy may promote cell regeneration through influencing cellular processes and hormone production. This may explain how vibration therapy helps soft tissue repair and bone density increase.
Scientists have been studying human tissue's cellular and molecular mechanism in respond to mechanical stimulation. It is suggested that mechanical stimulation, when reaching a certain magnitude, can influence cellular processes, such as boosting protein performance, altering gene expression, and regulating stem cell differentiation. These are the essential processes for cell regeneration.
The mechanical stimulation produced by vibration acceleration may satisfy the required magnitude to influence cellular processes.
Vibration stimulation may also promote the body system to secrete hormones, enzymes and other cell building materials. The improved circulation enhances the process of supplying sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Vibration therapy provides an overall condition for cell regeneration.
Muscle, Tendon & Ligament Repair
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. Muscles cells usually do not restore in fibrous tissues.
The intensive pulses of mechanical stimulation induced by vibration, through its impact on the tissue structure and the cellular processes, may lead to the resorption of fibrous tissues and regeneration of real muscle tissues.
When the living muscle cells grow back in their original place to replace the fibrous tissues, the muscles can resume their strength and functionality.
Tendons and ligaments are also consist of living cells and has certain ability of self-repair. Vibration therapy may promote the repair of tendons and ligaments, the same way like the repair of muscle.
Tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply and therefore take longer time to repair after injury. Vibration therapy can enhance the microcirculation and speed up the healing process.
Vibration therapy has been proved effective to speed up the rehabilitation process for muscles, tendons and ligaments. It probably help preventing the formation of fibrous tissue in the recover process. It is especially effective to treat chronic soft tissue injuries, and restore the “dead” tissues.
Bone Density Increase
Vibration therapy has been known for effectively treating bone loss. Studies suggest that vibration induced skeletal muscle contraction creates pulling force on bones with required magnitude to initiate bone formation process.
The unique pulsed intense stimulation activates and signals body system to produce hormone and other building blocks 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 vibration therapy is effective in improving bone density and treat age related bone resorption.
The mechanism of vibration therapy is to activate and promote our body systems to function in their instinct ways. The pulsed intense mechanical stimulation is the key medical intervention to initiate the processes. Through fast pace skeletal muscle contraction, vibration therapy enhances the functionality of our body systems in blood circulation improvement, tissue activation and cell regeneration.
Vibration therapy is easy and safe to practice. It is non-drug non-invasive and does not produce side effect. The short-time pulses of intensive mechanical stimulation initiates positive body system response without damaging tissues.
Although considered as an alternative medicine, the significance of vibration therapy is its unique potential to solve health issues that are challenging for traditional medicines. In fact such a potential has been proved as effective in countless practicing cases.
Aging, medical condition or lack of physical exercise can hinder our body systems' functionality in material supply, coordination and communication. Vibration therapy is an practical and effective solution to activate and enhance these functionality in a natural way.
The approach of vibration therapy is not just to pinpoint an isolated medical condition and depress or relieve the symptom. Rather, it take our body in its entirety, activates and facilitate our natural biological processes, mobilizes our instinctive functionality, and achieves fundamental health condition improvement.
In essence, mechanism of vibration therapy is to facilitate and stimulate our body system's own mechanism to perform. The intervention and the processes are natural, and the effects are fundamental.
Current knowledge about cellular processes and their molecular mechanism is still very limited. Vibration's pulsed intensive mechanical stimulation may be a great opportunity for scientific study now and in the future.
- Jay Tang
Interpreting life science from an engineering perspective.