Vibration therapy for building bone density - Bone Health

Bone Health

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Vibration therapy for building bone density

Mo51 profile image

I have osteopenia which is close to osteoporosis in my spine (L4 vertebrae is -2.3) so keen to try exercise etc to stop any further deterioration. No medication as AA did NOT agree with me. I've been reading that vibration therapy is helpful in building bone density. I was wondering if anyone has tried this? I found this on the ROS site and it sounds promising but can't find much info anywhere else. I would like some more info and if possible experiences before I go any further with this.

14 Replies

I discovered a local gym has a vibrating machine and I tried it out last week. It’s a very odd sensation standing on it. I am going to give it a go a couple of times a week. The instructor has given me 2 exercises to do and I will stand on it for 3 sets of 30 seconds! I too would like to know if anyone has used vibration to help improve their bone density. I have osteopenia and I am keen to do what I can to improve my bones.

Mo51 profile image
Mo51 in reply to Katob501

Hi Katob501. I have used a powerplate at a local gym too - though some time ago. I agree re it being an odd sensation. They are apparently good for improving balance too and building muscle. I was thinking about buying a home one as you can get a small version that does whole body vibration for around £150 from Amazon etc. Hope it works for you. Trouble with building bone density is that it is so slow, so results won't be known for some time. But powerplate sounds good for other reasons too, so may give it a whirl

Margaret Martin of The Melio Guide only advocates Low Intensity Vibration (LIV) machines, which are very expensive. She discusses the dangers of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) machines in this article - please Google:

Whole Body Vibration Therapy for Osteoporosis and Bone Density

These machines can cause fractures & I feel using a WBV machine at home contributed to my own lumber fracture.

WBV machines in gyms are even more dangerous, as high end machines can have forces of 15G and should be used for less than 15 seconds a day. That’s equivalent of standing on your desk & jumping off 30 times a second.

Please read the article & make your own mind up before using one of these machines.

Thanks for your reply. I do know of Margaret Martin and have her books which are excellent. I will have a search for the YouTube videos you mention. Interesting. Hope you have recovered well from your accident

I’ve edited my post above & added the title of the article. Please avoid these vibration machines they came be dangerous, if you have weak bones.

Mine was such a trivia accident that caused me to fracture a vertebrae. I really wish I hadn’t bought one of these machines & certainly not used it for the recommended 10 minutes a day. Please be careful.

I read too the article by Margaret Martin about the different types of vibration machines and it was enough to convince me that a low intensity machine was what I wanted.

I eventually bought a Marodyne Liv machine, for the somewhat eye-watering cost of £3,000!! I hesitated for a while before buying it because of the expense, but then concluded that my bones were worth it. I haven't been on holiday for 2 years and I probably would have spent £3k on two holidays ,so I think of my Liv machine as being in lieu of that.

I think you made a very wise decision. I just wish the machines were cheaper, so more people could benefit & not put themselves at risk with the whole body vibration machine from the shopping channel, like I did.

Been looking at the pricing and I really cannot afford £3000. Delivery is another £99 which seems quite steep. My husband is disabled with a cervical spinal cord injury and any spare money goes towards his equipment and physiotherapy. Maybe I can find a group of us and we could all contribute towards it and share it . But for now it will have to remain on my wish list. But thanks so much for your info Rosie x

There is no possible way I can afford one either, which is why I wish they were cheaper & more accessible for everyone. Your idea of getting together in a group to buy one is an excellent idea!

In hindsight, even at low power & low speeds, the Vibrapower Slim machine was too vigorous for me as a small, lightweight older person. I’m certainly not in the same league as someone younger, let alone a super fit astronaut - I don’t know what I was thinking!

Having declined medication for osteopenia, I rely on diet, supplements & exercise instead & use a treadmill at home these days.

Look after yourself. xx

Hi. I have a vibration machine for home use. Ideal world tv shopping channel often sell and demonstrate them. Also check their website. They were designed originally to increase bone density for astronauts who lose bone density when out of gravity. The Royal Society For Osteoporosis will send you a leaflet about them if you speak to them or request one online.

I have severe osteoporosis of the spine, minus 4.7 in parts of my body. I use mine for 10mins every other day....on the lower settings. I have never used the ones at the gym. Over lockdown, particularly, mine has been a godsend because it has been difficult with no gym sessions to keep fit in other ways.

There are many sizes and designs for home use now, not too expensive. Plus I have seen quite a few for sale second new models come out, people buy newer ones. I confess to having two machines. One I bought decades ago for £150.....same model is much cheaper now. My second machine fits under a bed and was £35 in a sale from Idealworld. I love them both for the benefits they give me.

We are all different. I am medication free, so it could be that my bones are stronger than someone else with the same scan reading. The research says that some of the medications make our bones heavier but more brittle and therefore easier to fracture. The consultant I saw for a REM scan said the vibration machines are brilliant and encouraged me to use them without fear. xx

Mo51 profile image
Mo51 in reply to DeannaAlphi

Thank you Deanna. That's really helpful. It's proving very confusing as ROS recommend them too unless you have some specific health conditions such as heart problems or blood clotting (and they also mention that they were developed for astronauts). They also suggest they are good for arthritis (which I also have in my spine and hands and wrists. My doc and osteopath are very much in favour though suggest moderation. Yet Margaret Martin who is a brilliant source of advice is very against the whole body vibration machines. Like you I would not use the gym ones as they do seem pretty aggressive. I have been recommended a good one from Amazon for around £100 and am very tempted to try it on a low setting. They suggest building up from a few seconds daily. Thanks again - your experience is helpful.

DeannaAlphi profile image
DeannaAlphi in reply to Mo51

I also follow Margaret Martin although I haven't heard her speak against vibration machines. I think we have to take intelligent approaches to what we read and follow. I bought a weighted vest because she recommended them. When I saw a REM consultant he said I should use one which was weighted below my ribs, like a diver's belt.....because of the spinal fractures I had......and then very gradually use the vest weight at the lowest weight. There was me, before, power walking with my weighted vest thinking I was doing the right thing.....could have done more damage. Hope I've explained what I meant to say. It is difficult for experts to give blanket advice about anything when we are all so individual.

Highly recommend keeping an eye on the Idealworld tv shedule. When they are selling vibration machines, they have an app which shows the effect on our muscles when in use. Also they demonstrate different exercises to do, plus have dvds which can be followed. My second machine came with a dvd and a chart of different exercises. Wish you the best. xx

Here is Margaret Martin's article, originally written in 2011 and updated in May 2021.

Thank you for that. I'll read it in more detail later this week. A few things I disagree with and think the approach is strange. They seem to think one simply stands on the machine and say it has no effect on the muscles. Of course it does. Also they seem to base it on high settings. Even if I didn't have the big O I'd never use a setting I was not comfortable with. I do fear the plates in the gym, more because of lack of knowledge of the gym staff. Many are not trained well in their use. The article also makes a thing about bending our knees. Many non vibration exercises tell us to bend our knees slightly.

Had to smile at the connection with detached vitreous sacs in the eye. A good few years ago, one of mine became detached and hemoraged......while I was watching tv. The hospital said it is very common as we age. I also have tinnitus as a result of walking very hard into a metal fire escape. The vibration plate does not make mine any worse. What did make it much worse for a while was medication I was given after surgery on my wrist. Tinnitus was listed as a side effect, perhaps they should not have prescribed it to someone who already had the condition.

I'd still come back to taking an intelligent approach. The report is trying to give a blanket overall picture on something which is individual. At first glance I get the feeling that the writer knows little about the vibration therapy, is linking bits of info and research where it isn't necessarily appropriate and is erring on the side of caution. And who would not do the same if they were given the same task?

Mega bucks goes into astronauts etc. If it was not effective, it would not be used. The Royal Society For Osteoporosis would not give out leaflets about it if it was dangerous. Actually anything is dangerous in excess.....even drinking too much water. My doctors had no knowledge about vibration technology at all. Yet they warned me against it because of their own ignorance. The consultant I saw for the REM scan, did know a lot about it, he gave me some more information about it and encouraged me to use it, along with other advice i did not get from the hospital.

The machines do vary. My friend has one she bought from Amazon and it is extremely gentle compared to mine. The one I use most, is quite strong and I never use it above the second speed. Margaret does endorse the use of low intensity vibration and i believe the machines come with instructions to start at the lowest setting and to be very careful. What she warns against is the very high intensity settings....which to me is common I'm not sure the home machines would reach those intensity levels anyway. Hope you do well with it. I'd be interested to hear how you get on with it....particularly if your muscles become more toned as a result of using it. Mine did in quite short time. xx

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