Whole body vibration is the movement of the entire body without the person actually choosing to move their muscles. It can occur for several different reasons. People who drive school buses or work on airplanes are frequently exposed to the effects of whole body vibration on the job. People also experience the effects of whole body vibration intentionally, by using special vibration training machines at gyms nationwide. Whole body vibration can be beneficial in some ways, but also potentially harmful in others.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, whole body vibration tends to cause headaches from the shaky feeling of the whole body being jerked around quickly. This is the same reason why some people experience headaches when they ride a rollercoaster. These headaches can be short-term, especially at the beginning of the exposure to whole body vibration. However, the Centre states that people who have repeated exposure to whole body vibration, such as school bus drivers, are more likely to have chronic headaches.
People who are exposed to whole body vibration may experience stomach problems such as gastrointestinal upset, changes in the rate of digestion and a general queasy feeling. The stomach problems and nausea that occur from whole body vibration are similar to the effects of motion sickness on a train or a boat, states the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. The severity of the stomach problems can increase with increasing duration of whole body vibration.
Increased Bone Mineral Density
One of the benefits of whole body vibration is the potential to increase bone mineral density. According to the journal “Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine,” young adult women who used whole body vibration machines for exercise increased their bone mineral density over time. An increase in bone mineral density can help to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis, according to “Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine.”
Improved Strength and Balance
Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic states that whole body vibration can improve muscular strength and balance over time. He explains that these benefits are especially helpful in elderly women, who are at a greater risk of falling and getting injured. Elderly women who have regular exposure to whole body vibration, through their work or the use of a vibration machine may even recovery from conditions like knee osteoarthritis faster, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: Vibration – Health Effects
- “Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine”: Whole-body vibration effects on bone mineral density in women with or without resistance training: B Humphries, A Fenning, E Dugan, et al.
- The Mayo Clinic: Whole body vibration training: An effective workout?