The purpose of this study was to find out the effects of using a whole body vibration machine for those suffering from lower back pain, and if that use could counteract the onset of osteoporosis. This skeletal disease causes gaps in bone tissue and a resulting weakness and brittleness in the remaining bone tissue. Osteoporosis becomes more prevalent as people age. Previously, whole body vibration has been recommended as an alternative to drug therapy for some patients with this affliction, even though there had not been a devised study to find the optimal vibration rate.
The study engaged 108 women, all postmenopausal and averaging 65 years in age. The subjects were randomly selected to participate in different types of whole body vibration exercise or to take part in a more traditional type of exercise. One group used the rotational vibration training routine, having three 15-minute sessions per week that included the dynamic squat exercise. A second group was subjected to vertical vibration training for the same duration. The third group was also the control group, asked to participate in low intensity traditional gymnastic exercises, two blocks of ten sessions per week.
All subjects kept to their routines for 12 months. Bone mass density, or BMD, was recorded at the beginning and end of the study of both the hip joint and the lumbar spine using x-ray absorptiomety. Force plates were used, again at the beginning and end of the study, to record leg power and leg extension strength.
The results showed that the two exercise groups that used the whole body vibration machines saw a marked increase in bone mass density and in leg strength over those in the control group. Leg strength in the two vibration machine exercise groups was particularly noticeable, averaging between 22 and 27 percent in the rotational training group and between 24 and 34 percent in the vertical vibration training group. The control group saw a leg strength improvement of between 6 and 20 percent.
Scientists concluded that the whole body vibration training method was effective in the treatment of osteoporosis by increasing bone mass density and leg strength.
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