Abstract| Volume 13, SUPPLEMENT 1, e103-e104, December 2010

Evidence review: Whole body vibration training—Evidence based exercise or fitness fad?

      Introduction: Whole body vibration training (WBVT) is increasingly being used in sports performance and rehabilitation in Australia and internationally. There are two main styles of WBV devices—vertical or lineal (Power Plate, I-tonic) and sinusoidal or pivotal (Galileo, Hypervibe). The objectives of this review were to determine the current evidence to support WBVT: (1) to improve strength and power in athletes and (2) to review and critically evaluate literature for physiotherapist delivered WBVT in a rehabilitation setting. Methodology: Medline, PubMed and CINAHL (2002–2010) databases were searched using the terms “whole body vibration”, and “sport*” or “athlete”, and “strength” or “power” and “physiotherapy”. Reference lists of articles were hand searched to identify further studies. Study inclusion criteria were: randomised and clinical trials with an untreated or placebo control, a non-exercise intervention or other exercise program. Study quality was independently assessed by two reviewers using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale. Results were summarised in a best evidence synthesis. Results: Preliminary searches identified 43 potential articles in the athletic population and 23 in the rehabilitation. After review, 36 studies met the inclusion criteria. Eighteen studies were conducted in an athletic population, three in an orthopaedic, five in a neurological, five in the aged, three in post-menopausal women and four in healthy young adults. In the athletic population there was evidence that WBVT increased explosive strength (power) as measured by counter-movement jump, squat jump or vertical jump height. Isometric and dynamic strength gains were found to be similar or better than those achieved with resistance training. In the rehabilitation populations there was evidence of improved strength, balance and bone mineral density and decreased pain with WBVT. Studies were of low to moderate quality. Studies that demonstrated no or little effect of WBVT typically used frequencies lower than what is used clinically or recommended by the equipment provider. Conclusions: We found preliminary evidence that WBVT is an effective training and treatment modality in athletic and rehabilitation settings. WBVT produces similar strength outcomes when compared with traditional resistance training, suggesting it offers a viable alternative for individuals who are unable to complete traditional resistance exercise programs due to co-morbidity or injury. However, the paucity of studies indicates further research is required to more accurately quantify the benefits and determine the best practice parameters of WBVT in these populations. In a culture of evidence based-practice this should be a priority research focus as WBVT is widely used and becoming an increasingly popular training and rehabilitation modality.
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