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Whole Body Vibration Side Effects

Whole body vibration side effects can be problematic, especially for people with osteoporosis, compression fractures, joint replacements, and eye issues.  Individuals who use high intensity vibration plates need to be aware of the dangers of vibration machines.

This post identifies those people who cannot use vibration plates, describes the physics behind vibration plates, discusses vibration therapy for bone health, and defines both high intensity and low intensity whole body vibration.

Before we get into vibration plate side effects, let’s briefly discuss, in the next section, vibration therapy for bone health. 

dangers of vibration machines

Vibration Therapy and Bone Health

Clinicians are using vibration therapy to treat their patients with osteoporosis. They see it as a reliable supplement to an osteoporosis exercise program.

Like physical activity, whole body vibration activates receptors in bones and stimulates bone building. This theory proposes that movement of the vibration plate generates a “tonic vibration reflex,” similar to the stretch reflex. The tonic vibration reflex has been reported to be activated continuously during whole body vibration so that the muscles continue to contract and relax until the stimulus stops (1). Consequently, bone may respond to the applied forces generated during muscle contractions from a tonic vibration reflex.

Whole body vibration may also influence bone building indirectly via a hormonal response. Whole body vibration has been shown to acutely alter testosterone and growth hormone levels (2, 3).  The combination of mechanical load and whole body vibration exposure may stimulate larger increases in growth hormone than mechanical load alone.

I encourage you to read our blog post on whole body vibration therapy for osteoporosis where we talk extensively about the health issues associated with high intensity vibration and the benefits of low intensity vibration plate therapy.

The Dangers of Vibration Machines

The essential ingredient in vibration plates is the intensity of the vibration. The dangers of vibration machines stem from the intensity of the vibration.

You want to make sure that the intensity is within an acceptable range to benefit the user while not causing harm.

The intensity level contributes significantly to whole body vibration side effects. My interview below with Dr. Clinton Rubin at SUNY explains this in detail.

Vibration Plate Physics

The physics behind vibration plates can be a bit complicated. Unfortunately, some vendors present confusing messages to consumers and mislead them regarding the potential whole body vibration side effects of their platform. This short tutorial will help you understand vibration physics and allow you to cut through the noise.

There are six variables in a vibration platform that affect your body.

  • Body position/posture on the platform.
  • Direction.
  • Frequency.
  • Acceleration.
  • Magnitude. 
  • Time on the platform.

Body Position

Standing straight will enhance the ability of the vibration to move up the legs through the hips and spine. A relaxed stance (i.e., bent knees) will decrease the ability of the vibration to move past the hips. (4)

When you are on a low intensity vibration platform, such as the Marodyne, you should stand straight and not bend your knees to allow the vibration signal to propagate.

When you are on a high intensity vibration platform, you should bend your knees to reduce the harmful side effects of the vibration.

Direction of Vibration

A number of different whole body vibration platforms are commercially available (5-9), and they provide a vibratory stimulus in one of two ways:

  1. Vertical displacements.  On such platforms, the entire platform moves uniformly.
  2. Oscillatory alternating displacements. These platforms do not have a uniform displacement.  The platform oscillates over a central fulcrum, intended to simulate how humans walk.

If you plan on using a vibration platform for therapy, you should find a platform that does not oscillate so that the signal is uniformly distributed through your body.

Frequency of Vibration

Vibration frequency (or clock rate) is measured in hertz (Hz). A whole body vibration platform provides several different vibration frequency and magnitude options.

Studies that demonstrate improvements in muscle and bone strength and size use whole body vibrations that employ frequencies of 25 to 45 Hz (2,11-19).

Frequencies between 20 and 70 Hz are the recommended safety range. Low intensity vibration platforms conform to this range. However, a number of high intensity whole body vibration platforms also operate in this range and confuse consumers by solely advertising this metric and downplaying the acceleration (measured in g-force of the platform).


Acceleration describes how quickly the motion exists in each direction (in gravitational units, where 1.0 g = 9.81 m/s2).
A g-force is a measure of acceleration. 1G is the acceleration we feel due to the force of gravity. It’s what keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground.


The magnitude of vibration is measured in amplitude. Amplitude describes how much motion exists in each direction (in millimetres). The magnitude of a vibration stimulus is a combination of amplitude and acceleration.

You want to avoid high magnitude (or high intensity) vibration platforms, as these have the most dangerous side effects. 

Time on Platform

The longer you are on a high magnitude platform, the greater the danger to your body. Low intensity platforms, on the other hand, provide dosage guidance for safe use of the platform.

Who Cannot Use Vibration Plates

Individuals who have one of the following conditions should not participate in high intensity whole body vibration training:

  • Kidney or bladder stones.
  • Arrhythmia.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Seizures.
  • Cancer.
  • A pacemaker.
  • Untreated orthostatic hypotension.
  • Recent implants (joint/corneal/cochlear, etc.).
  • Recent surgery.
  • Recently placed intrauterine devices or pins.
  • Acute thrombosis or hernia, acute rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Serious cardiovascular disease.
  • Severe diabetes.
  • Migraines.

Among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), several adverse events were reported, including pain, pressure sores on the feet, autonomic dysreflexia, and dizziness, which were largely attributed to the passive standing portion of the intervention.

High Intensity vs Low Intensity

Researchers at Lyndhurst Centre caution that high intensity whole body vibration may elicit inner ear troubles, dizziness, headache, lower-limb spasticity, fracture (especially among those with severe osteoporosis), and/or hardware loosening (plates or screws as a result of surgery).(19)

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of whole body vibration on bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women concluded that low intensity vibration slows down bone loss at the hip (20) the benefits are similar to walking.

How to Avoid Whole Body Vibration Side Effects

If you have a medical condition, you should avoid high intensity vibration platforms. Why take the risk when there are few benefits of a vibration plate?

This is especially true for individuals with osteoporosis, compression fractures, or who are at risk of a compression fracture

A much safer option is to consider a low intensity vibration platform such as the Marodyne. The reader with medical conditions and considering a low intensity platform should read this article.

Further Reading


  1. De Gail P, Lance JW, Neilson PD. Differential effects on tonic and phasic reflex mechanisms produced by vibration of muscles in man. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1966; 29(1): 1–11
  2. Bosco C, Iacovelli M, Tsarpela O, Cardinale M, Bonifazi M, Tihanyi J, Viru M, De Lorenzo A, Viru A. Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000; 81(6):449–54.
  3. Kvorning T, Bagger M, Caserotti P, Madsen K. Effects of vibration and resistance training on neuromuscular and hormonal measures. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006;96(5):615–25.
  4. Rubin C, Pope M, Fritton JC, Magnusson M, Hansson T, McLeod K. Transmissibility of 15-hertz to 35-hertz vibrations to the human hip and lumbar spine: Determining the physiologic feasibility of delivering low-level anabolic mechanical stimuli to skeletal regions at greatest risk of fracture because of osteoporosis. Spine. 2003; 28(23): 2621–27.
  5. Whole Body Advanced Vibration Exercise [Internet]. Windsor (Canada): WAVE Manufacturing Inc; c2009 [updated 2009; cited 2008 Apr 1]. Available from:
  6. VibraFlex [Internet]. Naples (FL): Orthometrix, Inc; c2006–9 [updated 2009 Jun 1; cited 2009 Jan 15]. Available from:
  7. TurboSonic [Internet].  Hood River (OR): TurboSonic USA; c2007–8 [updated 2008; cited 2009 Jan 15]. Available from:
  8. Galileo: Whole Body Vibration  [Internet].  Hornsby Heights (Australia): Novotec Medical; c2008 [updated 2008 Mar 11; cited 2009 Jan 17]. Available from:
  9. Juvent [Internet]. Somerset (NJ): Juvent Medical, Inc; 2007 [updated 2007; cited 2009 Jan 17]. Available from:
  10. Delecluse C, Roelants M, Verschueren S. Strength increase after whole-body vibration compared with resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(6):1033–41.
  11. Bosco C, Cardinale M, Tsarpela O. Influence of vibration on mechanical power and electromyogram activity in human arm flexor muscles and whole body vibration therapy contraindications. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999;79(4):306–11.
  12. Bosco C, Colli R, Introini E, Cardinale M, Tsarpela O, Madella A, Tihanyi J, Viru A. Adaptive responses of human skeletal muscle to vibration exposure and whole body vibration therapy contraindications. Clin Phys- iol. 1999;19(2):183–87.
  13. Kerschan-Schindl K, Grampp S, Henk C, Resch H, Preisinger E, Fialka-Moser V, Imhof H. Whole-body vibration exercise leads to alterations in muscle blood volume. Clin Physiol. 2001;21(3):377–82.
  14. Abercromby AF, Amonette WE, Layne CS, McFarlin BK, Hinman MR, Paloski WH. Variation in neuromuscular responses during acute whole-body vibration exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(9):1642–50.
  15. Torvinen S, Kannus P, Sievänen H, Järvinen TA, Pasanen M, Kontulainen S, Järvinen TL, Järvinen M, Oja P, Vuori I. Effect of four-month vertical whole body vibration on performance and balance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002; 34(9):1523–28.
  16. Torvinen S, Kannus P, Sievänen H, Järvinen TA, Pasanen M, Kontulainen S, Nenonen A, Järvinen TL, Paakkala T, Järvinen M, Vuori I. Effect of 8-month vertical whole body vibration on bone, muscle performance, and body balance: A randomized controlled study. J Bone Miner Res. 2003;18(5):876–84.
  17. Roelants M, Delecluse C, Goris M, Verschueren S. Effects of 24 weeks of whole body vibration training on body composition and muscle strength in untrained females. Int J Sports Med. 2004;25(1):1–5.
  18. Torvinen S, Kannu P, Sievänen H, Järvinen TA, Pasanen M, Kontulainen S, Järvinen TL, Järvinen M, Oja P, Vuori I. Effect of a vibration exposure on muscular performance and body balance and whole body vibration therapy contraindications. Randomized cross-over study. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2002;22(2):145–52.
  19. Craven BC. Effectiveness of vibration and standing versus standing alone for the treatment of osteoporosis for people with spinal cord injury., NCT00150683; 2001.
  20. Slatkovska L, Alibhai SMH, Beyene J, Cheung AM, editors. The efficacy of whole-body vibration in reducing bone loss in postmenopausal women: A meta-analysis. Proceedings of the ASBMR 30th Annual Meeting; 2008 Sep 12–16; Montreal, Canada. Washington (DC): ASBMR.


December 6, 2019 at 10:11am

Amy B.

I am interested in a home vibration platform to help with osteopenia.It is in the femoral neck, hip & spine seem OK. I am 5"5" tall & weigh 110 pounds (50kg) and walk a lot! What machine would you suggest for increasing BMD.

December 12, 2019 at 7:24am

Margaret Martin replies

Hi Amy,
If you can afford it. I would recommend the Juvent. It is easy to transport, very quiet and shown to be effective if are of slim build. It is effective for your femoral neck (part of your hip bone), your total hip but no vibration platform can build the spine. You would need specific exercises for this. Like brisk walking and running, the vibration of the platform is only strong enough to travel up the leg and not past your pelvis. Should you decide you want to add exercises, my book Exercise for Better Bones, outlines which exercises target the spine and which target the hips or wrists.
All the best.
All the best.

June 14, 2020 at 5:27am

Ann C

Dear Margaret, I have osteopenia, but my bigger problem is lipolymphedema. WBM is recommended for this, to help move lymph, but I’ve been told (not by a professional) that anyone who’s had blood clot problems shouldn’t use it. I had a massive pulmonary embolism in July 2019 and have been on a blood thinner ever since. Additionally, I weigh 308 pounds. If it’s safe, I would be thrilled, because managing this lipolymphedema is a bear and some therapists say this would help a lot. If safe, can you recommend a machine that is quiet but can also handle my weight? I truly appreciate your informed opinion.

June 14, 2020 at 10:08am

Richard Martin replies

Hi Ann. Margaret rarely uses or suggests patients use vibration platforms and instead promotes exercise or manual therapy as modalities. You should check manufacturer specs for weight limits.