Whole Body Vibration devices: any experience?

Soloflex has begun promoting their whole body vibration device (WBV) as beneficial in building bone density, muscle and a lot more. I have heard of some athletes using the grown-up versions of these things, but this is the first reasonably-priced (?) one I’ve seen on the market.

Doing some research, I find two contradictory types of articles. Some seem to indicate that they can be especially beneficial for older women in building bone density to help osteoporosis, and will build muscle strength.

Others that have studied the effects among workers subject to this ,find it can cause lower back pain and other problems.

My interest stems from my wife being unwilling to really do any steady exercise regimen. Have got her a few exercise machines over the years, but after a while she just quits.

Soloflex is promulgating the idea that 10 minutes a day on their device will build muscle, bone density, and perhaps cure the common cold.

I’m tempted to get one for my wife (they have a 30-day trial and it can be returned within that time), but still am a bit skeptical.

Has anybody had any experience with WBV devices? Any opinions form the medicos here?

Anybody want o get me one for my birthday? :smiley:

Increasing bone density is easily done by just moving a few of those small dumbells around.

WBV in health and safety terms is actually a problem rather than a benefit.


Thanks for a quick reply, casdave. I do dumbbell work for my upper body, but not supposed to do any weight-bearing exercise for my poor, atrophying leg muscles, alas. Hence the interest in WBV.


Yeah, this is one of the sites I found and referred to in my OP. There are others that state the opposite. The Q iin my mind is whether, perhaps, the WBV machines use a much different frequency that may not be as injurious as workplace vibration.

Your thread title made me think of a Volvo wagon with ‘rally suspension’ we had once. . .

Maybe a little cycling would help, keeps the shock of running away from the knees and hips.

A few months ago I had an 1-hour user orientation session on vibration training devices that seem to be somewhat similar to what Soloflex shows on their web site (institution-spec devices and of European manufacture but the principle is the same, of course). The instructor, a sports medic, seemed to be well informed (it was in the university’s sport institute’s gym the use of which our sports club rents a few hours per week)

Some points that I remember (IANAD and only try to retell what I heard):

  • clinically observed benefits: bone growth, more elastic tendons, better proprioception, circulation in legs/feet enhanced (significantly less amputations in vibration-training treated diabetics than in control group)

  • on my question why vibration exposure of workers is notorious for negative effects e.g. circulation problems: the difference is in
    a) the frequencies (higher-frequency components in workplace vibration),
    b) higher amplitudes and
    c) exposure period (5 x 8 hr per week instead of just a few minutes/week), and
    d) point of vibration coupling (work-related vibration often coulpled through seat almost directly into lower spine; vibration training coupled mostly through feet/legs), and
    e) type of movement (workplace vibration mostly in one axis; vibration training one foot goes up while the other fot goes down)
    The vibration exposure e.g. of road builders and helicopter pilots is known to be harmful, but vibration training was not comparable for the above reasons.

  • contraindications: pregnancy, recent wounds/operations, epilepsy (might trigger seizures in epileptics), current inflammations or tendon complaints in trained part of body, heart pacemaker, brain pacemaker, acute hernias, thromboses, disc complaints etc. - also diabetes but only when there is a risk of falling from the device due to low blood sugar.

  • use low frequencies (5 … 25 Hz) for decreasing muscle tone (i.e. relaxing), higher frequencise (25-50 Hz) for increasing muscle tone.

Now for some subjective impressions on using those devices for a half year or so in the gym:

  • Vibration training is not a lazy activity - you do not get the benefit from letting yourself get wobbled through passively. Rather you (mainly) stand on the device and do (slow) exercises that tense muscles and tendons in the part of the body that’s to be trained. After a lot of exercise you learn by and by how to tense your body to get a specific part (e.g. your lower back) to vibrate. The assistance of a trained sports instructor, if available, is very helpful in that respect. The exercises where you tense your abdominal muscles while sitting on the vibrating plates aren’t any less taxing than conventional abs exercises.

  • Being able to vary amplitude and frequency is important so you don’t overload when beginning training.

  • Cannot know exactly about the effect on my bones, tendons, muscles etc, but one beneficial effect I felt definitely in the tone-lowering (low-frequency) regime: I sometimes tend to some discomfort in the lower back due to tense muscles, and an exercise with the vibrating plate at 6 Hz, kneeling before the plate with my hands on it and slowly flexing my back does seem to relax those muscles.

Many thanks, tschild, that very comprehensive report is most helpful. You answered a lot of my questions, and I think it may be worth a trial.