he latest news on the osteoporosis front is a new piece of equipment that provides whole-body vibration. The idea started because astronauts in space lost muscle strength and bone density, and they were unable to walk when they returned. Further, they had an increased chance of suffering bone fractures.
A Russian scientist named Vladimir Nazarov wanted to solve the problem and invented the Whole-Body Vibration (WBV), which astronauts now use before rocketing into space. The WBV’s vibration activates muscle fibers and bone building cells called osteoblasts, while at the same time reducing cells that breakdown bones, called osteoclasts. In addition, the WBV increases muscle power and balance, which also aids against fractures and increases bone density.
This is great news for those with osteoporosis because studies are showing WBV’s can significantly benefit them. According to Reuters Health, researchers at the University of Idaho at Moscow studied 28 postmenopausal women and found the “WBV appeared to increase bone density in the hip. The 8-month training regimen required the women to stand on a WBV platform, in a squat position, for six 1-minute cycles, 3 times per week.” Several other studies have shown similar results. In one study, postmenopausal women trained with the WBV for a year, and the WBV inhibited bone loss in the spine and hip areas, and in another there was improvement in the spine.
Although WBV studies are promising, there are some problems. Studies have shown certain people might be at risk to use the WBV. For example, people suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid the WBV because of safety risks. It can also worse certain endogenous conditions. In addition, not all machines are equal or even safe. So, you have to use the right machine.
One of the most important aspects of the WBV is the machine’s up and down movement, and not all WBV machines operate the same: They don’t produce the same results and some can even be harmful. For instance, one report by StonyBrook, State University of New York, showed certain “WBV devices on the market induce exceedingly high, and potentially dangerous, vibrations to the body, well in excess of International Safety Organization advisories for human tolerance limits.”
If you’re wondering which machines researchers recommend so you don’t end feeling like a jack hammer operator, a study conducted at the Keio University School of Medicine, in Tokyo, Japan, recommended the Galileo WBV machine for reducing chronic back pain. StonyBrook researchers looked at three classes of machines: high magnitude vertical, low magnitude vertical, and the multi-directional. They found both the high magnitude vertical and the multi-directional WBV machines exceeded acceptable standards. So, of the three machines, they recommended the low magnitude vertical because “accelerations measured on the body … remained well below danger levels.”
Another thing to be wary about with WBVs is that you don’t over do it, because, as is the way with most things, too much of a good thing can be dangerous. From what I can tell, you want a machine that vibrates no more than 30Hz, and in some cases less. I tried to find either a low magnitude vertical vibration platform or the vibration rate on several WBVs being sold on Amazon and was unable to discover it; however, I suspect such machines cost thousands not hundreds. Additionally, recommendations are for six 1-minute cycles, three times per week, but, as stated, vibration can cause problems, so check with your doctor before instituting any WBV program. I’m also sure if you decide to wait and not purchase a WBV right now, once their more popular, they’ll appear in either in your alternative doctor’s office or at your local gym.