Good Vibrations Have Bone Benefits

The Shakedown - Good Vibrations Have Bone Benefits

Queensland researchers are to present findings from a study which shows that regular use of whole body vibration platforms can be used to improve muscle and bone health in the elderly.

The findings will be presented on Monday at an international bone health meeting in Sydney. Almost 1000 clinicians, researchers and international experts in bone health will attend the meeting.

Some forms of exercise, especially high intensity and impact activities such as jumping, offer a protective effect against bone loss and fractures in older people. Researcher Dr Belinda Beck, at Griffith University, commented that "Safe exercise options for the elderly and frail can be limited. There is significant community and commercial interest in the use of whole body vibration technologies as an alternative to more traditional exercise."

The whole body vibration is delivered through a floor-mounted platform. The researchers compared two different commercially available devices over an eight month period.

In the study, older women living in a Gold Coast retirement village used the vibration platform twice a week.

Compared to those who did not use the platform the researchers found that women in the study gained muscle strength. Whilst their bone density at the spine and hip did not increase, it was better maintained over the eight month study.

It is not fully understood how the stimulus generated by the floor-mounted vibrating platforms promotes muscle and bone health. Explanations include direct stimulation of bone, or increased activation of the muscles needed to contract.

The researchers also expressed concern that some high intensity whole body vibration machines were probably unsuitable to use with the elderly and that they may pose a greater risk of harm than benefit to bone health.

Further Information
The 2nd Joint Meeting of the International Bone and Mineral Society and the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society will be held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from 21-25 March 2009.

Effects of 8 months of twice-weekly high versus low intensity whole body vibration on risk factors for hip fracture in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Belinda Beck, T. L. Norling, School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

Study supported by a Griffith University Research Grant.