Vibration Therapy & Osteoporosis
Vibration Therapy & Osteoporosis
When your body starts to break down more bone cells than making new ones for the replacement, you have bone loss issue. Your bones become porous and brittle. You are subject to higher risk of bone fracture.
According to a recent statistics by Department of Health & Human Services, about 10 million Americans 50 years and older have significant bone loss, or osteoporosis. Most of these people are women. Over 43 million more Americans have low bone density (osteopenia), which can further develop to osteoporosis.
Bone loss mostly starts without being noticed until fracture happens. Vertebrae and femoral necks are the most vulnerable locations that osteoporosis-related fracture occurs .
Aging, lack of physical activities, certain medical conditions, medical procedures and medicine can be the causes of bone loss. Once developed, bone loss is difficult to reverse. Hormone and physical exercises are used to prevent and treat bone loss.
Vibration therapy may bring a more effective and natural approach to prevent and treat bone loss.
- Mechanical stimulation promotes bone growth
- Vibration-induced muscle contraction can make a difference
- Clinical trials of vibration therapy for osteoporosis
- Strengthening femoral neck with L-squat on a vibration plate
- VT Research Incentive Program - $100 cash reward
Mechanical stimulation promotes bone growth
Bones are living tissues. In order to maintain the bone strength, our body need to constantly break down old bone cells and generate new bone cells for replacement.
At young age, our body system is able to generate enough new bone cells to replace the broken-down bone cells. Scientists estimate that we replace all bone cells every 5 to 6 years.
As we get older, this process slows down. Our body still breaks down old bone cells, but generates less new ones for replacement, and we start to lose our bone density. This situation is more serious if we lack physical exercise. If our bones are used used, they will get deteriorated.
Certain medical conditions and medicines also impair the bone growth process.
Mechanical stimulation on bones can promote our body system to make more bone cells.
It has been commonly approved by the scientific society that mechanical stimulation needs to satisfy a certain magnitude to effectively stimulate bone growth.
It is a well accepted scientific belief that high-intensity resistance training are beneficial for increasing bone density in adults. It has been observed that strength training, like weight-bearing exercise, is more effective for promoting bone growth than other forms of physical exercise.
In muscle strength training, the skeleton muscles contract forcefully. The contraction force pulls (bends) the attached bones, providing higher magnitude mechanical stimulation for bone cell generation. The physiological process involved in muscle contraction and the pulling force on bones signal our body system to produce growth hormone and influences stem cell differentiation for bone cell generation.
Scientists have long recognized that mechanical interactions between skeletal muscles and connected bones are inherent to bone integrity.
Bone loss is a critical health issue for astronauts in long-duration space travel. In space, their bone cells are broken down at the same rate just like on earth. However, without gravity engaging their muscle work that pulls the bones, new bone cells are generated at a much slower rate, causing bone loss.
According to NASA, "research on earth and on the space station has demonstrated that high intensity resistance workouts are most effective at reducing bone and muscle loss."
NASA scientists developed Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) to use in the space station in 2008 to help astronauts to cope with bone loss issue in zero gravity environment. ARED can put up to 270kgs of force on specific areas of the body most vulnerable to bone loss.
Internet search brings about some contents that a Russian scientist used vibration plate for training astronauts before and after their space travels, in order to cope with muscle atrophy and bone loss caused in microgravity environment. However, there is no official report or research literature about these experiments available online. The type of vibration equipment, movement pattern, parameters and the exercise poses are unknown.
Vibration-induced muscle contraction may make a difference
Vibration plate can be used to induce rapidly repeated skeletal muscle contraction, which produces a dynamic pulling force on the connected bones. This dynamic pulling force may effectively and efficiently serve the role as the mechanical stimulation for bone growth.
Vibration plate interacts with our skeletal muscles through our instinct muscle stretch reflex response.
When stretched, our skeletal muscles involuntarily contract against the stretch. This reaction is called stretch reflex response. It is our body's natural mechanism for instantaneous balance and stability.
Vibration-induced skeletal muscle contraction has unique characteristics.
Skeletal muscle contraction is usually voluntary, commanded by the brain. Vibration-induced skeletal muscle contraction, on the other hand, is involuntary. It responds to vibration frequency in a rapidly repeated movement pattern.
The rapidly repeated skeletal muscle contraction makes muscles exercise more efficient. The dynamic pulling force from the skeletal muscles produces high magnitude mechanical stimulation to the connected bones.
Vibration-induced skeletal muscle contraction can more efficiently and effectively stimulate bone growth. This type of stimulation is unique, not achievable through regular muscle strength training exercise.
The efficiency and effectiveness come from the two distinctive parameters of vibration movement: frequency and acceleration (G-force).
|Rapidly repeated contraction||Vibration frequency||Efficiency|
|High magnitude stimulation||Vibration acceleration (G‑force)||Effectiveness|
Let's say you perform squat exercise on a vibration plate that runs on 30Hz frequency and 2G acceleration. Your body mass is 180Lb.
Vibration induces your leg muscles to contract and relax 30 time per second (30Hz frequency). Your leg muscles achieve fatigue more easily. Your muscle exercise is more efficient.
Due to the vibration G-force, the body weight you endure becomes 2x180Lb = 360Lb. Your leg muscles need to contract more forcefully to overcome the 360Lb weight. The muscle contraction produces a higher magnitude mechanical stimulation to your bones. Your muscle exercise is more effective.
Because vibration G-force acts in repeated short pulses, the 360Lb force only lasts a fraction a second in each vibration circle. Your body does not perceive the magnitude as high as it actually is.
Using a vibration plate, you can achieve high mechanical stimulation on your bones without stressing your musculoskeletal system.
Vibration therapy can achieve high magnitude mechanical stimulation on muscles and bones with less exercise effort and stress, compared to achieving the same magnitude using regular muscle strength training. This makes vibration therapy more practical for senior people and physically weak people to improve their muscles strength and bone density.
For vibration to be most effectively transferred from vibration plate to the skeletal muscles, the vibration frequency should be set to achieve resonance effect. Depending on different muscles, the frequency to maximize the vibration transfer from vibration plate to muscle tissues is around 30Hz.
Clinical trials of vibration therapy for osteoporosis
Many small-scale clinical trials have been conducted to study the efficacy of using vibration therapy to treat bone loss. Some randomized, controlled clinical trials have provided quantitative support that BMD (bone mineral density) increase is related to using vibration plate.
Bone density can be measured using x-ray imaging technology called DEXA Scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan). This technology allows scientists to conduct quantitative studies for bone loss treatment and achieve more accurate results.
However, due to limited resource (funding), current clinical trials are constrained on their designs and scales. Most clinical trials were not adequately designed and completed, and they did not turned out consistent results on vibration therapy's efficacy on bone density improvement.
On the other hand, there are many variables that affect the trial outcomes, like movement pattern, frequency, amplitude, exercise poses and session time etc, which require many repetitive tests to provide a meaningful conclusion. A clinical trial may concludes a 10Hz vibration plate does not help with bone growth but left out the test of a 30Hz vibration plate.
Although scientific studies are behind, countless vibration therapy users and practitioners reported positive results using vibration plate for bone density improvement.
(If you intend to conduct a serious clinical trial, I will be happy to sponsor my VT007 vibration plates as the exercise equipment.)
L-Squat vibration exercise for strengthening femoral neck
People with osteoporosis have higher risk of femoral neck fracture.
Vibration can be introduced to exercise skeletal muscles around the hip joints and promote femur bone growth.
Gluteal muscles and thigh muscles are the major skeletal muscle groups that connect femur and pelvis. Their contraction produces a pulling force on femur and pelvis, stimulating bone growth on femur, particularly at the femoral neck.
L-squat is the most effective exercise for gluteal muscles and thigh muscles training.
Research Incentive Program $100 Cash Reward
Vibration Therapeutic® LLC offers a research incentive program for the study of using vibration therapy to treat osteoporosis.
Each participant will get $100 cash reward. Click here for the program details ↝
- Is Vibration Training Good for Your Bones?
- By Jorge Marin-Puyalto, Alba Gomez-Cabello, Alejandro Gonzalez-Agüero, Alejandro Gomez-Bruton, Angel Matute-Llorente, Jose A Casajús, German Vicente-Rodríguez PubMed.gov | PMID: 30519579
- Vibration Therapy to Prevent Bone Loss and Falls: Mechanisms and Efficacy
- By Belinda R Beck PubMed.gov | PMID: 26456496
- Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot study
- By Sabine M P Verschueren, Machteld Roelants, Christophe Delecluse, Stephan Swinnen, Dirk Vanderschueren, Steven Boonen PubMed.gov | PMID 15040822
- Jay Tang
Interpreting life science from an engineering perspective.