Whole Body Vibration: A Valid Alternative Strategy to Exercise?

Author: Roberto Bonanni1, Ida Cariati1, Cristian Romagnoli2, Giovanna D'Arcangelo3,4, Giuseppe Annino3,4, Virginia Tancredi3,4
1 Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine, "Tor Vergata" University of Rome, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy.
2 Sport Engineering Lab, Department of Industrial Engineering, "Tor Vergata" University of Rome, Via Politecnico 1, 00133 Rome, Italy.
3 Department of Systems Medicine, "Tor Vergata" University of Rome, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy.
4 Centre of Space Bio-Medicine, "Tor Vergata" University of Rome, Via Montpellier 1, 00133 Rome, Italy.
Conference/Journal: J Funct Morphol Kinesiol
Date published: 2022 Nov 3
Other: Volume ID: 7 , Issue ID: 4 , Pages: 99 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/jfmk7040099. , Word Count: 270

Several studies agree that mechanical vibration can induce physiological changes at different levels, improving neuromuscular function through postural control strategies, muscle tuning mechanisms and tonic vibration reflexes. Whole-body vibration has also been reported to increase bone mineral density and muscle mass and strength, as well as to relieve pain and modulate proprioceptive function in patients with osteoarthritis or lower back pain. Furthermore, vibratory training was found to be an effective strategy for improving the physical performance of healthy athletes in terms of muscle strength, agility, flexibility, and vertical jump height. Notably, several benefits have also been observed at the brain level, proving to be an important factor in protecting and/or preventing the development of age-related cognitive disorders. Although research in this field is still debated, certain molecular mechanisms responsible for the response to whole-body vibration also appear to be involved in physiological adaptations to exercise, suggesting the possibility of using it as an alternative or reinforcing strategy to canonical training. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for the development of whole body vibration protocols appropriately designed based on individual needs to optimize these effects. Therefore, we performed a narrative review of the literature, consulting the bibliographic databases MEDLINE and Google Scholar, to i) summarize the most recent scientific evidence on the effects of whole-body vibration and the molecular mechanisms proposed so far to provide a useful state of the art and ii) assess the potential of whole-body vibration as a form of passive training in place of or in association with exercise.

Keywords: alternative strategy; cognitive function; exercise; musculoskeletal disorders; neurodegeneration; pain; physiological adaptations; prevention; whole-body vibration.

PMID: 36412761 DOI: 10.3390/jfmk7040099