A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has shown that whole-body vibration (WBV) therapy is ineffective in preventing bone density loss.
WBV involves standing on a small, motor-driven, oscillating platform which produces upward accelerations from the feet to the weight-bearing muscles and bones, reproducing pressure on the bones and mimicking muscle contractions in activities such as walking. It is thought to achieve the same benefits of weight-bearing exercises without the difficulty and intensity.
The study was led by University Health Network (UHN) researchers, Angela Cheung, MD, PhD Shabbir Alibhai, MD, MSc and Luba Slatkovska, PhD, according to a press release.
Participants in the study included 202 healthy, postmenopausal women with a mean age of 60 years who were not taking any type of prescription bone medication. They were randomized into three different groups. The control group did not participate in WBV therapies, and the second and third groups were asked to stand on a low-magnitude, oscillating platform at either 30 Hz or 90 Hz for 20 minutes daily for 12 months. All of the women were provided with calcium and vitamin D supplements so their daily intakes approximated 1,200 mg and 1,000 IU, respectively.
At baseline and 12 months, the women’s bone structure and bone density were measured at the hip and lumbar spine using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The forearm and lower leg were measured using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography.
The researchers found that after 12 months, the bone density and structure at the hip and lumbar spine and lower leg and forearm in the patients using both the 30 and 90 Hz platforms were not significantly different compared with measurements for those who did not participate in WBV therapy.
“Although researchers are seeking alternatives to time-consuming exercise to improve bone density, the results of this study suggest this specific therapy is not effective in improving bone density,” Cheung, director of the osteoporosis program at UHN and associate professor, University of Toronto, stated in the release.
Instead, Cheung suggested that adequate calcium and vitamin D through diet and supplements and weight-bearing exercises are better strategies for women to maintain strong bones.