How Does Vibration Therapy Work

How Does Vibration Therapy Work

Millions of vibration machines have been sold around the world in the past few years. As the machines become more affordable, vibration therapy becomes more attractive. Most people that have tested the therapy recognize the health benefits of this convenient alternative medicine.

Scientists are intrigued by vibration therapy. Studies on its modalities are gaining momentum. Hundreds of clinical research projects have been conducted and published. A wide range of health benefits have been observed and approved.

However, current scientific studies on vibration therapy are still in their prelimilary stage. The understanding of the treatment applications is very limited, far from sufficient to conclude any specific treatment modalitiy in terms of procedure, dosage and efficacy. The mechanism and theory of vibration therapy are yet to be discovered.

Explorers did not wait until scientific guidelines are available to take the try. Vibration therapy is easy to practice, and may have certain advantages over traditional medicines. It has demonstrated its unique effectiveness in treating some hard-to-diagnose or hard-to-treat medical conditions. There are many life changing stories, including my humble one.

Vibration therapy is beyond fascination. I have done a lot of research, observation and experiments in the past few years. Now believing to have gained some in-depth and systematic understanding about its mechanism and applications, I decide to venture into this comprehensive hypothesis about vibration therapy, for discussion.

A Comprehensive Hypothesis
about the mechanism of vibration therapy

Pulses of Intensive Mechanical Stimulation

Let’s start with an examination of the medical intervention of vibration therapy.

When we are on a running vibration machine, our body moves with the vibration acceleration. As the acceleration overcomes our body inertia, a force is applied on our body. This force is the medical intervention we want, in order to make things happen. The higher the acceleration, the larger the force (F=ma). We can design the vibration’s frequency and amplitude to achieve the needed magnitude of acceleration.

Vibration acceleration rate is not a constant value. It changes between the max positive value and the max negative value in each vibration cycle. The force applied to your body changes as the acceleration changes. This gives a dynamic pattern to the vibration force that makes a difference.

We can view the vibration force as a rapidly repeated pulses of intensive mechanical stimulation on our body. The cycling motion creates the repeated pulses, and the acceleration produces the intensity.

Fast Pace Muscle Contraction

The rapidly repeated pulses of stimulation cause fast pace muscle contraction. Then the contraction force becomes the secondary mechanical stimulation to the connecting tissues including muscles themselves, tendons, ligaments, bones and nerves.

When we do vibration exercise, vibration induces our skeletal muscle’s stretch reflex response. The muscles contract and relax in a rapidly repeated pattern. Our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system respond positively to the pulses of intensive stimulation. The reactions enhance our body systems’ functionality in blood circulation, tissue activation and cell generation.

Three Major Enhancement Effects

Vibration therapy has three major enhancement effects on our body systems and their functionality.

  1. Peripheral Circulation Enhancement
    …… increase peripheral body fluid flow, improve microcirculation and lymphatic drainage.
  2. Tissue Activation
    …… engage multiple body systems to function and exercise, keeping tissues energized.
  3. Cell Regeneration
    …… influence cellular processes for cell material production, promoting self-healing.
Mechanism of vibration therapy

Vibration therapy enhances the functionality of body systems, exercises tissues, boosts metabolism, and promotes tissue self-healing processes. All these effects work together in an intricate and complementary manner, and achieve a comprehensive health condition improvement.

The unique vibration stimulation may initiate profound cellular processes for tissue regeneration. This is very promising potential of vibration intervention that intriguing scientists. For some medical conditions, vibration therapy is possibly advantageous over traditional medicine.

Mechanism & Applications

Peripheral Circulation Enhancement

Vibration therapy promotes peripheral body fluid flow. Body fluids are mainly blood, lymph and tissue fluid. They transport and exchange gases and other substances involved in the metabolism processes. Maintaining a healthy body fluid circulation is essential for the supply of oxygen and nutrient to cells and the removal of metabolic wastes.

  • Vibration induces skeletal muscle contraction which creates pulses of pressure on vessels to speed up peripheral body fluid flow.

    Skeletal muscle’s involuntary contraction and relaxation creates repeated pulses of pressure on the adjacent vessels (blood and lymph), accelerating fluid flow in the vessels. The skeletal muscle contraction cooperates with the instinct vessel’s own smooth muscle contraction. The two contraction forces work together to boost the liquid transmission and distribution in the peripheral circulation system. Vessel smooth muscles work inside the vessels, while skeletal muscles work from outside of vessels in a much faster pace.

  • Muscle contraction involves cellular activities that promote tissue fluid flow.

    The physical and chemical cellular processes that perform skeletal muscle contraction involve and lead to intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid transmission and exchange, creating an internal drive for body fluid flow.

Controlled clinical trials have observed significantly higher muscle perfusion when vibration is added to a physical exercises. Muscle perfusion indicates the flow rate and volume of blood and lymph in the muscle.

Compared to cardio exercise, which enhances circulation by engaging heart-work to pump the blood farther, vibration exercise enhances circulation by promoting peripheral body fluid flow and exchange, supplementing the functionality of the cardiovascular system

Microcirculation Improvement

Vibration therapy is particularly preferential for achieving microcirculation improvement.

Blood circulation and exchange at tissues relies on the microcirculation system, which is composed of smaller vessels including arterioles, venules, and capillaries. The blood pressure generated by heart is weakened when reaching into these smaller vessels. Muscle contraction can put additional pressure outside the vessels to boost blood flow and distribution.

Capillary vessels play the ultimate task of the cardiovascular system: delivering oxygen and nutrients, and taking away carbon dioxide and wastes. Tissue damage can impairing capillary vessel’s functionality, compromising microcirculation. While the power of cardiovascular system become weak when reaching capillary, vibration therapy can be use to improve microcirculation, accelerating tissue repair in the recovery process.

For elderly or physically weak people that cannot endure extensive physical exercise, vibration therapy can be a practical, and perhaps essential solution for microcirculation enhancement.

Lymphatic Drainage

Vibration therapy is an optimal solution for lymphatic drainage.

Unlike cardiovascular system employing a heart to pump the blood, lymphatic system relies on vessel smooth muscle contraction to move the lymph.

Tissue fluids flow into lymphatic capillaries and becomes lymph. This flow is driven by osmotic pressure. Subsequently lymph is drawn into lymphatic vessels, then passes through lymph nodes and then returns to the blood system. The smooth muscles in the walls of lymph vessels rhythmically contract and produce continuous pressure to keep lymph moving on its direction. This is how lymphatic circulation naturally works.

With vibration stimulation, the fast pace skeletal muscle contraction creates pulses of pressure outside of the lymph vessel, while the contraction of smooth muscle creates pressure inside the vessel. The combined pressure effectively move lymph in the vessels.

The mechanism that vibration increases peripheral body fluid flow collaborates the well with the natural mechanism of lymphatic circulation, making vibration therapy an optimal solution for lymph circulation enhancement.

Medical conditions can impair lymph circulation. So-called lymphatic drainage problem is the accumulation of excessive tissue fluids in the tissues. Such accumulation can cause swelling, infection or cancer because toxins and wastes trapped in the tissues. Muscle contraction and cellular activities can enhance lymphatic drainage by driving tissue fluids into lymph system and drawing the lymph out to blood circulation system.

A healthy lymph circulation needs certain physical activity to keep muscles move. When the physical activity is not enough, or medical condition causing lymph flow problem, vibration therapy can effectively and efficiently fulfill this role.

Another method utilizing external force to improve lymphatic drainage is massage. The combination of vibration therapy and massage therapy can achieve great lymphatic drainage results. While massage improves the situation under the surface of skin, vibration improves the situation deep in muscle tissues and assist lymph flow in the vessels.

Circulation Improvement Summary

Vibration exercise enhances circulation through increasing peripheral body fluid flow. The function is achieved through rapidly repeated muscle contraction and cellular activities. This mechanism collaborates well with the instinct mechanisms of our blood circulation system and lymphatic system.  For microcirculation and lymphatic circulation improvement, vibration therapy has advantage over regular physical exercises and other treatments. Utilizing external force, vibration exercise requires less physical strength and workload to achieve a better result, making it a practical solution for elderly or physically weak people to use on regular basis.

Vibration exercise is not to substitute the role of physical exercise to improve circulation. Incorporating vibration in regular physical can achieve optimized result. For certain medical conditions, vibration therapy may be a more practical solution.

Tissue Activation

 

Our body tissues need to keep activated for their health. Regular physical exercise is essential for tissue activation. Adding vibration exercise to regular physical exercise can better satisfy this requirement. Vibration’s pulsed intensive mechanical stimulation engages our musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system to exercise more effectively, maintaining the performance and functionality of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and peripheral nerves.

Vibration exercise is more efficient. If we do squat on a 30Hz vertical movement vibration plate, besides doing voluntary up and down repetitions, we are also doing 30 tiny involuntary up and down repetitions in every second, in respond to the vibration stimulation. Our leg muscles contract 30 times in a second. The contraction pulls or presses the connecting tissues 30 times in a second. Each tiny repetition involves its metabolic processes and ATP consumption.

Muscle Building

In vibration exercise, skeletal muscles reach fatigue and achieve hypertrophy much faster than in regular physical exercise. Muscle fatigue promotes muscle growth

Athletes use vibration exercise to achieve muscle building result faster, less exercise time and less repetitions.

Tissue Degeneration Prevention

Lack of physical activity, aging and medical conditions can cause tissue degeneration, like muscle atrophy, tendon and ligament deterioration, and bone resorption.

Tissue degeneration often happens to senior and physically weak people that are not able to keep a sufficient physical exercise routine.

Vibration therapy does not have to be physically stressful to achieve better results. It fits well for senior and physically weak people to fight tissue degeneration.

Nerve Disorder Treatment

Neuromuscular functionality plays the commending role in muscle’s stretch reflex response. In respond to stretch stimulation of vibration, nervous system command and coordinate certain muscles to contract, and other muscles to relax in a rapid pace. The process exercises the nervous system and improve its communication functions, enhancing balance, motor skills and gait.

Neuromuscular functionality plays the commending role in muscle’s stretch reflex response. In respond to stretch stimulation of vibration, nervous system command and coordinate certain muscles to contract, and other muscles to relax in a rapid pace. The process exercises the nervous system and improve its communication functions, enhancing balance, motor skills and gait.

Neuromuscular functionality plays the commending role in muscle’s stretch reflex response. In respond to stretch stimulation of vibration, nervous system command and coordinate certain muscles to contract, and other muscles to relax in a rapid pace. The process exercises the nervous system and improve its communication functions, enhancing balance, motor skills and gait.

Clinical studies have been conducted to explore using whole body vibration therapy to treat neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy, and have achieved positive results.

Vibration therapy improving circulation also contributes to nerve health by supplying sufficient nutrients to nerve cells.

Energy Level Boost

Vibration exercise can achieve combined effects of both cardio exercise and resistance exercise. The rapid muscle contraction supplements cardiovascular system’s function in peripheral circulation, and stimulate both musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular system to exercise and coordinate. The two effects reinforce each other to achieve better tissue activation and keep the body in high energy (oxygen and nutrients supply) level.

Cell Regeneration

 

Vibration stimulates cell regeneration through influencing cellular processes and hormone production. This may explain how vibration therapy helps soft tissue repair and increases bone density.

Scientists have been studying human tissue’s cellular and molecular mechanism in respond to mechanical stimulation. It is suggested that mechanical stimulation, when reaching a certain magnitude, can influence cellular processes, such as boosting protein performance, altering gene expression, and regulating stem cell differentiation. These are the essential processes for cell regeneration.

The mechanical stimulation produced by vibration acceleration may satisfy the required magnitude to influence cellular processes.

Vibration acceleration can produce pulses of intensive force on the vibration object. This acceleration rate is usually expressed as G-force, which uses gravitational acceleration rate g (9.8m/s2) as the unit. This way the force applied to accelerated objected can be simply calculated by multiplying the object weight and the G-force value, F=ma

Below is an example that explains the mechanical stimulation on a vibration plate user. Let’s say he weighs 180LB, and the maximum G-force his vibration plate can achieve is 3G (@ 30Hz and 2.2mm peak-to-peak amplitude).

Without vibration, the user is subject to 1G due to the gravity. The downward pulling force on his body is his body weight, or calculated as 180LB x 1G = 180LB.

When the vibration is on, at the point that the maximum up-moving G-force is reached, the downward pulling force on his body is 180LB x 3G = 540LB. He feels his weight is 540LB.

This maximum pulling force of 540LB only last a tiny fraction of a time in a vibration cycle. On a 30Hz vibration plate, one cycle is 1/30 second, about 0.03 second. The pattern of this stimulation is repeated short pulses of 540LB downward pulling force. Because of he short-lasting time, such an intensive force does not cause injury to human tissues.

The vibration stimulation also promotes the body system to secrete hormones, enzymes and other cell building materials. The improved circulation enhances the process of supplying sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Vibration therapy provides an overall constructional condition to mobilize cell regeneration.

Within a certain range of frequency, amplitude and session time, vibration therapy is safe to practice. It is a good solution to achieve high magnitude mechanical stimulation without much risk and stress to tissues.

Soft Tissues Repair

Naturally, our muscles are capable of repair and regeneration after minor tears and bruising. However, severe physical injury can lead to extensive fibrous tissue formation in the repair process. Fibrous tissues, in place of the original muscle tissues, impair the functionality of the muscle, and are very difficult to restore.

The intensive pulses of mechanical stimulation induced by vibration, through its impact on the tissue structure and the cellular processes, may lead to the resorption of fibrous tissues and regeneration of real muscle tissues. With the resumed muscle cells in the original place, the muscle resumes its strength and functionality.

Just like repairing muscles, vibration therapy can repair the connecting tissues like tendons and ligaments.

Vibration therapy has been proved effective to speed up the rehabilitation process for muscles, tendons and ligaments. It probably help preventing the formation of fibrous tissue in the recover process. It is especially effective to treat chronic injuries, and restore “dead” tissues.

Bone Density Increase

Vibration therapy has been known for effectively treating bone loss. Studies suggest that vibration induced skeletal muscle contraction creates pulling force on bones with enough magnitude to initiate bone formation process. The unique pulsed intense stimulation activates and signals body system to produce hormone and other building blocks needed for osteoblasts to grow. Osteoblasts are cells that secrete structural substance needed for bone formation.

Randomized controlled clinical trials have provided quantitative evidences that vibration therapy is effective in improving bone density and treat age related bone resorption.

Summary

The mechanism of vibration therapy is to activate and promote our body systems to function in their instinct ways. The pulsed intense mechanical stimulation is the key medical intervention to initiate the processes. Through fast pace skeletal muscle contraction, vibration therapy enhances the functionality of our body systems in blood circulation improvement, tissue activation and cell regeneration.

Vibration theray is easy and safe to practice. It is non-drug non-invasive and does not produce side effect. The short-time pulses of intensitive mechanical stimulation initiates positive body system response without injuring tissues.

Although considered as an alternative medicine, the significance of vibration therapy is its unique potential to solve health issues that are challenging for traditional medicines. In fact such a potential has been proved as effective in countless practicing cases.

Aging, medical condition or lack of physical exercise can hinder our body systems’ functionality in material supply, coordination and communication.  Vibration therapy is an practical and effective solution to activate and enhance these functionality in a natural way.

Vibration therapy has been proved to be effective for many hard-to-treat chronic diseases.

The approach of vibration therapy is not just to pinpoint an isolated medical condition and depress or relieve the symptom. Rather, it take our body in its entirety, activates and facilitate our natural biological processes, mobilizes our instinctive functionality, and achieves fundamental health condition improvement.

In essence, mechanism of vibration therapy is to facilitate and stimulate our body system’s own mechanism to perform. The intervention and the processes are natural, and the effects are fundamental.

The current knowledge about cellular processes and their molecular mechanism is still very limited. Vibration’s pulsed intensive mechanical stimulation is a great opportunity for scientific study now and in the future.

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Wendy
Wendy
2 hours ago

This blog is a great resource of information!!!!

Jay

Interpreting life science from a mechanical engineering background. Contact: jay@vibrationcare.com