Vibrating Doesn't Boost Bones Strength

Bone loss prevented with calcium and vitamin D supplements and weight bearing exercises

(RxWiki News) Whole-body vibration training has taken off in gyms around the world. But a study has found that the vibrating platforms fail to meet claims of boosting bone health.

A study by the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto tested the benefits of the fitness fad for postmenopausal women, who are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. After using vibration platforms for a year, there was no clear benefit for women with low bone mass, one of the characteristics of osteoporosis.

"Ask your doctor about natural treatments for osteoporosis."

Vibrating platforms are advertised as a way to increase muscle tone, lose weight, and improve fitness. Sometimes, manufacturers also market them as a way to boost bone mass. You stand, sit, or lie on the platform as it vibrates. The vibrations force your muscles to relax and contract quickly and repetatively.

These machines have been controversial, as little research exists to support some of the claims of health and fitness benefits. The vibrations mimic pressure on the bones, as weight-bearing exercises for osteoporosis are designed to do.

Two-hundred and two postmenopausal women were divided into three groups for a clinical trial. They had lower bone density, but were not diagnosed with full osteoporosis. Two groups used the vibrating platforms at different rates of oscillation, and one acted as as the control and did not use whole body vibration at all.

The vibration exercise group stood on the platforms for 20 minutes a day, for 12 months. All participants were were given calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Bone structure and bone density were measured before and after the trial. The researchers found that after 12 months, there was no significant difference in bone structure or density between the groups. They concluded that whole body vibration is not an effective therapy for preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Dr. Angela Cheung, an author of the study and Director of the Osteoporosis Program at UHN, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Skeletal Health Assessment (CESHA), Lillian Love Chair in Women’s Health, and Associate Professor, University of Toronto, recommended that women who do not yet have osteoporosis take calcium and vitamin D supplements, and do weight-bearing exercises. These techniques have long been recommended to prevent bone loss and maintain healthy bones.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 15, 2011