Whole Body Vibration Review (WBV) put on web 5/09, updated again 03/11

Table of Contents

Our Story Range of prices and features WBV on the Internet Some WBV machines Scientific Studies Contra-Indications
  Our Design How you might try WBV Stronger Bones - another web page Subway rides do not provide WBV Change Freq or amplitude Update Sept 09

We started hearing about Whole Body Vibration around 2002.
The Risk of Falling is a major cause of bone fractures in the elderly.
Here is some quick information on osteoporosis taken from the internet May 2009.
Osteoporosis and vitamin D - added Nov 2010

How we learned about Whole Body Vibration 

We are in our 60's and found a scientific paper in 2007 which had the results of a double blind test of whole body vibration. Reduced hip fractures by 60% after 6 months of 5 minutes per day at such a low intensity that a double blind test was possible the subjects could not even detect the vibration!

Many web sites hype that Whole Body Vibration can do things that the data does not seem to support, such as fitness and weight loss.  Also there is a lot of distracting information about being exposed to Whole Body Vibration all day long - such as when using machines such a bulldozers

After getting past the WBV hype we found a great many scientific studies of whole body vibration helping senior citizens or other people with low bone mineral density..  Jump to that portion of this web page

We looked at the wide range of whole body machines which we could buy on the internet, but we found NONE that had more than ONE of the following characteristics:
  1) low enough cost
  2) small enough to fit in our recreational vehicle
  3) short enough so as to not create a risk of falling off of the platform
  4) could be easily incorporated into her daily routine
So, we built our own in Jan 2009. It has a platform which is only 1" off the floor

Judy has incorporated her whole body vibration into the nightly dish washing by setting the platform in front of the sink cabinet.

Overview: how Whole Body Vibration helps

There is some debate as to how Whole body Vibration helps.  Whole body Vibration helps in at least three ways
   1) Improves Muscle Strength
   2) Improves balance
   3) Improves bone mineral density (below the hips)
The first two reduce the likelihood of falling
All three mechanisms reduce the likelihood breaking a hip.
   (We also take a vitamin supplement which improves the density of all of the bones)

I have not been convinced that there is any difference between tilting and vertical Whole body Vibration. The Galelio system which uses tilting was one of the original systems and has the most research articles.

Whole Body Vibration was found to slow weight gain in mice and people. - but NOT, like the hype, reduce weight

News Item of  May 2009, added July 2009. Study of 80 people put into 4 categories found that the category which dieted and exercised while on a vibration platform for 12 minutes per day lost 11% of weight and kept the weight loss for 6 months after the diet and exercise/vibration stopped. This is the first study of weight loss and WBV I have seen which seems OK. Click here for the details.

There are 150+ YouTube videos of Whole Body Vibration - BUT most use very high amplitudes that I associate with WBV being used in place of exercise - which is unneeded for the elderly.

Huge range in prices and features of Whole Body Vibration platforms

The prices of WBV machines range from $250 to over $15,000.

Features include:

  Amplitude (strength)   0.5 to 20 mm (millimeter)
  Frequency   15 to 60 vibrations per second (Hertz)
     Very low cost machines often lack independent control of amplitude and vibration
     High cost machines sometimes allow adjustment of amplitude and frequency
  Vertical or oscillate/tilt
  Size of platform: large enough to stand on vs. large enough to lie down on
  Hand-hold: on most, but not all machines. some are just a platform
  Height of the platform: typically 4" to 8" (ours is 1" tall)

Whole Body Vibration on the internet

Amazon had 20 machines as of May 8 2009

Google shopping had 274 machines as of May 8 2009

WikiPedia has an excellent overview of Whole Body Vibration click here for latest
Click here for the WikiPedia entry to which I have added highlights PDF

www.ib3health.com  has  a brief overview of machines  PDF of July 2008

www.Vibrationexercise.ca has some useful comments on Vibration machines - generally cover high-cost machines

www.vibrationtraining.net has a useful description of the types of machines, along with user forum comments

We are using a Soloflex motor for our machine.     link to the Soloflex WEB site

The Vibration Professor is an individual who restored his health with Whole Body Vibration and wants to share his learning with others.  The following is one of his evaluations (no prices or criteria are given)

WholeBodyVibrationMachine.com has a fairly long list of Whole Body Vibration reports which appear to be available.
it sells a $350 unit with detachable vertical handle/support

Yet more Whole Body Vibration links.  They sell the Evolution  price unknown

A free 160 page book (2008?) which includes about 20 pages on Whole Body Vibration. This Vibranetics book is the result of the doctor's treating 5,000 patients with Whole body Vibration.

30 page Ebook 2007 on WBV for Seniors and Sports   Free (PDF 273 KBytes) from Australia

BodyVibratorsReview seems to evaluate many of the different machines.  Unknown author motivation.

http://www.soloflex.com/archive/70-great-whole-body-vibration-studies-articles-2/ Sept 2009 70 links - by Soloflex, which sold the parts for the WBV machine we made
        includes http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15721992&sc=emaf  NPR 2007
                   http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/bonehealth/chapter_9.html#PhysicalActivity  Surgeon General 2004: Seniors need physical activity - or perhaps WBV
                   http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2006/Feb06/hip.htm Oregon State University in 2006 was going to study WBV after hip replacement

My brief look at a few WBV machines: May 2009  arranged by price

Whole Body Vib Machine Price W"xL" H Freq Power Capacity Weight Type Seller Notes
Pro Form Vib FX $97 27x22   25-50     24 lbs   Wal Mart 120 sec max?
Power Fit Bantamweight $200 13x18 8'   80 W   36 lbs   ib3health no amplitude control - like many other low cost units
Health Mark Port-a-Vib 80002 $230 16x17   30-45 0.07 HP 220 lbs 20 lbs tilt Wal-Mart closeout, free shipping to store
Health Mark VF80002 $249 8x11   ?     12.5 or 20lbs   Amazon  
Pro Form Biovib PFVB2907 $296 19x22 6'? 20-50     20 lbs   Wal-Mart 120 sec max?
Health Mark V800000 $349 23x21   N.A.     34 lbs   Wal-Mart  
Vibratone AB-756 $400 21x18   16-30 0.27 HP   60 or 70 lbs   Amazon  
Soloflex $445 40x10 5" ? .2 HP?   31 lbs 1 plane Soloflex  
Health Mark VF81003  $449 8x14   ?   300 lbs 24 lbs   Amazon  
Health Mark VF82000 Osci Health $899 17x14 7"? 14-40   350 lbs 108? lbs   Whole Body Store 30 day money back, also Amazon
Proellixe $949 28x28   16-22 2 HP 440 lbs 330 lbs Oscil http://caliberfitness.ecrater.com  
Power Plate Pro5 $1,900 34x42 8"? 25-50   400 lbs 330 lbs Tri-planar http://fitnessdirectusa.amazonwebstore.com  
Vibra-Pro 5500 $2,000 30x26 8"? 0-50 2.4 HP 330 lbs 130 lbs Oscil http://www.vibradepot.com  
Dynafit $3,000 32x30 10"? 0-50 2.8 HP 400 lbs 160 lbs Oscil http://www.vibradepot.com  
Vibra-Pro 7000 $4,000 28x28   30-45 3 HP   145 lbs Tri-planar http://www.slimvibes.com  
Vibra-Pro 9000 $8,500 32x31 7"? 30-45 4.5 HP     Tri-planar http://www.powerplusplate.com  
Turbosonic $13,000 25x32   6-45?   300 lbs 270 lbs audio vert Amazon uses speakers, not motors; many on ebay, etc

You might want to checkout comments by buyers of particular machines.
Also, e-bay often will have a machine at about 1/2 price, but typically cannot return purchases. Craigs List can rarely return a purchased item

What some of the WBV machines look like (in no particular order)
    click on image to go for more information from a seller

ProForm Health Mark Port-A-Vibe Health Mark V800000 Osci Health SoloFlex Turbosonic
Wal-Mart Wal-Mart Wal-Mart wholebodystore   Amazon and others
VibraPro Health Mark 81003 Power Fit Bantamweight Power Plate Pro5 DynaFit  

Scientific Studies of Whole Body Vibration

Most of the studies in green below are PDF files on this web site. I have often highlighted the parameters

Summary of 2003 study of WBV  Galileo 1 minute, 3/week, 10 & 27 Hz    - has the following table:

Elderly women  who just stood for 30 seconds 3 times per week on WBV machine vibrating at 20 Hz had very significant improvements in balance and reach (7 cm -> 24 cm)  in just 3 months.  2007 study  Galileo tilt  (PDF 115KB)

2005 study in nursing home  (Buyere 2005) showed decrease in falls and increased quality of life - 27 Hz 7-11 mm 6 minutes 3 sessions per week. (PDF 157 KB)

2007 study of 67 year old men showed increase muscle after 1 year - 40 minutes per day at 35, 40Hz and 5 mm PowerPlate  The control group also had exercise. (PDF 80KB)

A 2002 study of people with spine problems concluded that WBV was as good as conventional therapy. Galileo, 18Hz, 6 mm, 4 minutes per session (PDF 280KB)

Bone Density increased by 1% after 6 months for elderly women exercising on an intense (2-5 G) WBV platform vibrating at 35-40 Hz (PDF 118KB)

WBV improves posture of elderly and reduces falls  30-60 seconds, 2.5mm to 5mm, 30-40 Hz, PowerPlate (PDF 245KB)

Bone Density increased 4% with 12 Hz 3 mm  3 sessions per week with knee flexed on Galileo machine/  Better than walking

WBV improved balance and walking speed for elderly. 4 min sessions once per week 12-20 Hz 4 mm with bent knees on Galileo machine

Excellent review of WBV literature  (Prisby et. al 2008) Great summary and includes many tables of what has been published and ideas of what new research is needed (PDF 361 KB)

Ankle got most benefit from WBV 2008, 26 Hz, 5-8mm, Galileo, dynamic exercise, bent knees to reduce vibration getting to upper body

WBV did not reduce stroke problems when started 30 days after stroke.  Double blind testing, 30 Hz, 3 mm, 4 sets of 45 seconds of vibration per day, 3 months.

WBV improved bone density for YOUNG women 2006  30Hz, 0.5mm, average 130 minutes per month, needed only 2 minutes a day to get a benefit. very low vibration amplitude.

2007 PHD Dissertation WBV Improve walking better than a placebo  7 women 77 years old, placebo controlled study, three 15 min sessions each week 289 pages (PDF 1606KB)  10-25 Hz 0.5 mm  Note: some studies miss-report peak-to-peak as amplitude

Note: Amplitude = Acceleration /(2*pi*Frequency)**2;
   Acceleration of 1G at 30 Hertz: Amplitude  = 1/(6.28 * 30)**2 meters = 1/(188 * 188) = 1/35420 = 28 mm

Whole Body Vibration has provided some help with Fibromyalgia: 30Hz, 2 mm, 18 minute sessions with squats, PowerPlate (PDF 222KB)

Belgium nursing home WBV study 2005  30-40 HZ 2-5 mm (PDF 264 KB)

A 50 page PDF wide ranging overview of WBV by a physical therapist in Texas -  2005?

This 2008 study  convinced me that WBV does NOT appear to help people who can exercise, contrary to the claims (generally unsupported) by many fitness centers. (PDF 118KB)

GenerationPlate list of references  2007  Categories: General Study of Effects , The Elderly,  Bone Density, Strength Wellness & Health, Balance

Question and Answer on WBV and osteoporosis  April 2008 at Medscape

Example of touting of whole body vibration to help a great many health problems: K1 Platimum

Mayo Clinic "For most healthy adults, whole body vibration isn't likely to result in measurable weight loss or fitness gains."

MedicineNet.com  Also believes that the hype of passive exercise does not match the reality.

HealthLine.com believes that WBV does have its uses.

WebMD has page with opinions on WBV, Chi machines, electronic muscle stimulation, and inversion boots

Vibration for weight loss touted

Vibration at Osteoporosis forum 11 discussions as of May 2009,  another forum IMMINST


http://www.wavexercise.com/Library.php?by=category  also has a large set of references for the use of Whole Body Vibration by the elderly- without links.

PubMed search for "whole body vibration" got > 500 hits on May 9 2009
A search for "whole body vibration" spine got 89 hits.
A search for "whole body vibration" (hip OR bone OR fracture) got 82 hits.
Most PubMed hits have abstracts, which provide easily quick, easily available summaries

       Update Nov 2010: 699 hits for "whole body vibration" in title or abstract. 
       Most of the scientific papers are about the problems on low frequency vibration, such as from driving a truck.

Reasons for elderly falls - some of which are decreased by Whole Body Vibration

Clinical Trials had 21 trials on whole body vibration as of Nov 2010

Contra-indications (Whole Body Vibration should be avoided by some people)

MotionHealth list of Contraindication: * Acute Inflammations in the pelvis and/or the lower extremities * Acute Discopathy * Acute Hernia * Acute Inflammation in the musculoskeletal system * Acute Migraine * Acute Tendiopathy in the trained body regions * Acute Thrombosis * After fresh surgery * Bone Tumors  * Epilepsy * Fresh Fracture in the trained body regions * Implants in the trained body regions * Gallstones, Bladder or Kidney Stones * Neoplastic disease of the spine  * Open wounds in the trained body region * Pregnancy * Rheumatoid Arthritis & Arthropathy * Unsupervised children

In addition to WBV there are low-cost supplements which make Stronger Bones
- click here information on Vitamin K2, etc.   Also Vitamin D (added Nov 2010)

The Whole Body Vibration Machine that I built for my wife

Concerns which we had and met

Machine should not take up much room in the recreational vehicle that we live in.
Low cost - our parts cost was less than $250 - bought from Soloflex and Home Depot
Short - no fear of falling off - the commercially available versions are usually more than 4" tall
Easily used every day - combined with daily washing of dishes in the sink

- Notice that she does not use shoes on the WBV platform - shoes reduce the vibration intensity
     (she wears socks or slippers)
    We wonder why virtually none of the WBV studies mention footwear - it seems very important.

Our platform is 1" tall. 24" wide, 24" long, built with 1/2" thick plywood. 
We place an area rug on top of the platform to reduce the amplitude/intensity at high frequency
9 rubber cushions isolate the vibrating platform from the floor.

The above chart shows the allowable vibration duration vs. amplitude and frequency for the Soloflex platform, not ours.
Example: A 10 Hz vibration can have a maximum vertical amplitude of 1 mm/sec**2 for about 1.5 hours, or 4 mm/sec**2 for less than 1 minute.

The dots on the above graph indicate the amplitude measured for the SoloFlex WBV platform. Example: 60 Hz, 11 mm/sec**2 would be OK for < 40 minutes

My best guess of the vertical amplitude of our Whole Body Vibration platform with area rug running at 60 Hz is 5 mm

Additional Platform Design notes (in response to an e-mail question about how to build it)

Soloflex attachment is available for $229 (update at end of page)

We mounted the motor at the top edge of the plywood platform.  This created a short platform with a large area. We might have increased the amplitude about 2X by mounting the motor under the board, but raising the platform from 1" to 3.5" would have created a concern about falling off the platform while doing dishes. With our design, we actually needed to reduce, not increase, the amplitude- we used a rug

The plywood board is sufficiently stiff that the vibration feels to be the same when standing anywhere on the board. I anticipate that the plywood will delaminate after many years of use - and replace the plywood for less than $10 at that time.  I considered buying honeycomb panel, which is far stiffer, but did not want to pay of the order of $100 for the panel.

The original design concept was to use springs, but I had a hard time finding short springs which I could mount on the board which would not scratch the floor. I tried the rubber pads, and they surprisingly worked very well.

Low-cost ways you can try Whole Body Vibration

When you try Whole Body Vibration you should notice your improved health (better balance, less back pain,...) quickly, in less than a week.

A few spas allow you to use their high-end machines. One spa charges $10 for 10 minutes. Should only take a few sessions to notice improvements.

You can buy a machine and return it if it does not seem to help you. I would recommend start by trying low-cost machines - especially from companies with easy return policies. Very little horsepower (HP) is needed to provide the amount of Whole body Vibration needed to increase bone strength and decrease falls. Reminder, so little is needed that the subjects could not determine if the WBV platform was turned on or not. You do not need the bone-jarring level of WBV which some of the machines can put out.  I assume that most of the machines can decrease their amplitude down to 0.5 mm - 2 mm adequate for bone strength, etc.

Riding on a subway does NOT provide healthy Whole Body Vibration (nor using a jackhammer, nor driving a truck...)

A comment on WikiPedia on Whole Body Vibration: As one said "If standing on a vibrating platform offered real health benefits, subway riders would be the healthiest lot on the planet. However, a train vibrates at 6 Hz ,which is similar to resonant frequency of the spine.  Healthy Whole Body Vibration typically operates in the range of 25-50 vibrations per second.

Change WBV frequency and/or amplitude

The human body notices changes and adapts to things which remain the same. I suspect that a person could get much more benefit from WBV which would be changing in frequency and/or amplitude during a session.  Some of the high-end WEB machines allow discrete programming of frequency/amplitude during a session. [ It appears to me, for example, that Laser Therapy produces the most benefits from the light/dark transitions, more than the total amount of light]

Update Sept 09

The following is clipped from our response to a person asking how to make WBV and what our results have been.

The literature does indeed suggest that a varied combination MIGHT be beneficial. However, I do not recall a single reference which did more than hint - no scientific studies. The design, really just putting the commercial parts together, has variable amplitude and frequency - but not as independent variables. We change one and we change the other.  Judy seems to use it about 50 Hz. Note that this is a fairly high amplitude - but Judy reduces the amplitude by use of the rug. I believe that the studies of senior women used far smaller amplitudes and got excellent results. My guess is that, even with the rug, the amplitude she uses is more than 10X that needed to get results. Nowhere did I read that was there is any problem with having too much amplitude.

Plywood: 1/2" thick 2 foot by 2 foot
Vibration insulation: currently fastening 9 rubber furniture feet to the bottom of the plywood
   could probably also use a 3/4' foam rubber sheet 2 foot by 2 foot - but it would get dirty
Source of vibration: Soloflex motor and controller - as shown on web page

Just need to drill 4 holes along one edge of the plywood so as to mount the motor about 2" from the edge of the board

Judy' comments follow:
Since the ideal is to use the WBV device for about 10 minutes per day, Henry built me a platform that rests on the floor in front of my kitchen sink - I stand on it to do dishes while being vibrated. That way, it is integrated into my daily routine. The platform is low enough that I am not in danger of falling if I accidentally step off the edge while moving around next to the sink. When I am done vibrating, I just lean the platform up against the edge of the floor cabinet. It stays plugged into the wall with a dimmer switch to set the intensity of vibration. Henry added another switch to turn it on and off. I have noticed that my lower legs feel a bit stronger after several months of use, also have improved circulation. Be sure not to use this type of device if you have any implants - artificial knee or hip - and it would be questionable with a pacemaker, though at the lower amplitudes the vibration wouldn't likely reach that far up the body. In any case, I would urge you to check with your doctor before using a WBV device.

Addition Nov 2010: an even lower price

In October 2010 a person mentioned that they were buying the parts for even a lower cost. 
They bought the motor as a replacement part from Soloflex and separately bought the motor controller.

The name of the controller is dial-a-temp.  Google Product search finds many companies selling it without the Soloflex logo, for $18 to $28
Thus for $139 for the motor + $25 for the speed control + board + cushions + 4 bolts + shipping you should be able to make your own.

Ran across a short introduction to the benefits of Whole Body Vibration at Mercola

Which also had a link to a 2010 rating of WBV machines
Here is a snapshot of what it looks like: pretty pricy

Update March 2011

I placed the following comment on Merocola site March 8, 2011 - which talked about the sports benefits of power plates

Sorry, but power plates have minimal exercise/sports benefits. This has been shown by many many studies. However, the Whole Body Vibration that any power plate can provide, is great for reducing falls and bone fractures. My page reviews the power plate literature for falls and fractures as well as sports.

A typical random controlled study had seniors stand on a platform for just 5 minutes a day. For half of the seniors the power was on, for the other half the power was off. The vibration power was so small that it could not be felt. The seniors chosen to stand on the platform while the power was on had 1/2 of the number of falls and 1/2 of the fractures during the subsequent 6 months.

I was very impressed.

I then reviewed scores of whole body vibration devices, and found them to be very expensive as well as difficult to fit into our home. However, one company allows customers to buy the parts so that you can assemble your own whole body vibration system for less than $150. We bought the parts and made a whole body vibration platform which is just 1 inch off of the ground and can stood on while washing dishes. It has been in virtually daily use for almost 2 years now.

Full details on power plate and, whole body vibration scientific studies, products available, and details of how you can make your own, are at: http://www.henrylahore.com/Health/WBV/index.html.
Many people have contacted me about making their own, and I have augmented the plans so as to help future readers, such as yourself.

(By the way, for the past year I have been researching vitamin D - which when used with co-factors also has been proven to decrease falls AND fractures by 50%.

Comment on source of the vibration - March 2011

The motor used by Soloflex can be purchased elsewhere at about 1/2 the cost.  I believe it is mentioned elsewhere on the website.
The core of it is a type of motor which can be speed-controlled (only a small fraction of motors can be controlled in this way)
A off-set weight is added to the motor to cause the vibration.
I doubt that an average motor could be used with an off-set weight as it would rapid wear away its bearings.
Back in 2009 I looked for a few hours on the internet to find such a vibration motor - and Soloflex was the only one I found.

Juvent 1000 -

 Nice looking WBV device which apparently sold for $3,000 and has been partially funded by NASA research money. Company in bankrupcy as of March 2011.
They are not currently responding to e-mail and have no address nor phone number. It appears that the developer is trying to make a new company to sell the device by the middle of 2011.
Just query "Juvent 1000" on the internet to get more information.

CLICK HERE for a  blog post on Juvent 1000 and other WBV devices - concerning osteoporosis - Feb 2011

Henry Lahore  feel free to contact me:   hlahore@gmail.com   to learn about me, go to my home page  at henrylahore.com