The Science of Vibration Healing

  • Vibration healing (also called vibration therapy) is the use of mechanical vibration to prevent, treat, and promote recovery from a variety of physical ailments, including pain, sports injuries, and bone density loss.
  • Vibration therapy involves the application of vibration to part or all of the body. This vibration is delivered through a variety of massage tools and/or specialized equipment found in clinical and health club environments, as well as sometimes available for home use.
  • Ancient Greeks promoted vibration therapy to heal the local stagnation of blood (bruising) and increase joint mobility.
  • In 16th Century Japan, a popular book advocated the use of percussion and vibration massage to improve rheumatic complaints and encourage the healing of broken bones. Over 40 years ago, the Russian space program noticed that astronauts returning from space experienced bone fractures and bone mass loss much earlier than their earth-bound counterparts. The Russians used whole-body vibration devices to help build up the bone mass of astronauts. NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has used vibration therapy to prevent the loss of bone mass in astronauts, particularly females, who are more prone to osteoporosis.
  • Advocates have promoted vibration therapy to treat a variety of other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, phantom limb syndrome, cerebral palsy, arthritis, tinnitus, ulcers, and fibromyalgia. They also claim that this modality reduces cellulite, regulates reproductive function, boosts the lymphatic system, improves wound healing, and increases glucose and body metabolism.
  • Muscle soreness and injury: Localized vibration therapy in adults with ankle or hamstring injuries was found to have beneficial effects, such as increasing flexibility and decreasing perceived stiffness. The long-term effect of localized vibration therapy in injury recovery is unclear.
  • Vibration therapy on upper and lower legs in downhill male runners was found to decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness. Also, vibration therapy was found to have beneficial effects in leg and knee muscle strength. Additional effects were lacking in the upper extremities in female student-athletes compared to resistance training.
  • Pain: Clinical trials have suggested that low-intensity vibration therapy may be a suitable option for reducing pain in patients with chronic low back pain, neck, shoulders and extremities.
  • Vibration therapy in fibromyalgia patients was found to improve balance and prevented the loss of health-related quality of life.
  • Sinusitis: Vibration therapy was found to be a potential drug-free treatment option for individuals with sinusitis and stress headache.
  • Clinical trials have noted effects such as a decrease in cellulite, muscle strengthening and toning, increased bone mass, improved blood circulation, improved balance, and decreased reaction of hormones correlated with stress following vibration therapy.
  • Massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other body workers integrate vibration therapy into their practices. There is no licensure program for vibration therapy, and U.S. states do not regulate the use of this modality. Some manufacturers of vibration therapy products offer training seminars.

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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Fanous, S. (n.d.). What Is Vibration Therapy? Retrieved November 15, 2017, from