Whole Body Vibration and Scoliosis Treatment

Whole Body Vibration and Scoliosis Treatment

by Christian H. Reichardt, D.C.


OVER THE LAST CENTURY, CHIROPRACTORS HAVE COME UP WITH A variety of protocols for some of the milder forms of scoliosis as well as a number of stabilization therapies to prevent the catastrophic outcomes of severe scoliosis. This article will not concern itself with the discussion of the more severe form of the disorder, nor with the philosophical reasoning of whether chiropractic is the treatment of choice. However, I shall outline how Whole Body Vibration can assist the practitioner in the field and their patients in their efforts to treat scoliosis. Most doctors today agree that sensible Scoliosis treatment protocols are clearly geared towards mobilization, correction and stabilization.

Treatment Concepts

The concave side of the scoliosis pattern typically presents itself with shortened, tight and connective tissue fibers, decreased ROM, osseous fixation and hypo-mobility, often leading to chronic pain. The convex side, alternatively, often presents itself as hyper-mobile, with fi bers which are overstretched and lack integrity or strength, often causing the acute pain cycles. The primary goal of treatment, thus, should be to increase motion fi rst in the fi xated areas, then stabilize the hypermobile areas. Research by Prof. Vladimir Janda, MD, showed that a patient’s awareness of their position in the 3-dimensional room is of great importance in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. This falls under the category of proprioceptive training and occurs in the stabilization phase.

Whole Body Vibration (WBV)

Whole Body Vibration is a modality in which a mechanical stimulation is produced by an oscillatory motion of a platform. The user is then placed on the platform. The motion of the platform creates a rapid acceleration/deceleration motion of the body part aligned with the stroke motion of the platform. Any tissue directly in line with the motion of the platform is now exposed to a rapid loading and unloading. This creates a physiologic response in those tissues equivalent to exercising. Basically, WBV produces an adaptive response in tissues and this response is both morphological as well as neurophysiological. Forty years of research has clearly demonstrated that these adaptive responses can be utilized to either loosen tissues by lengthening muscle fi bers or to strengthen muscles. WBV drastically reduces the time required to achieve these physiological outcomes; a proper WBV work out routine requires as little as 12-15 minutes training per ession, at 2 to 3 times per week intervals.

Physics of WBV

The intensity of the vibrations is determined by 3 factors: amplitude, frequency and magnitude of the motion. The height of each movement determines the amplitude, generally expressed in mm. The rate of oscillation per second determines the frequency, which is usually listed as Hertz (Hz); i.e., 10 Hz represent 10 oscillations per second. The rise of each scillation determines the magnitude, typically expressed in g-forces. Most research studies have focused on ranges from 10 to 50 Hz, which is considered low frequency, low amplitude vibration. Mechanical platforms tend to displace anywhere from 3 to 10 mm and produce acceleration factors of 1.8 to 15g, depending on the manufacturer.

WBV and Scoliosis Treatment

A number of doctors around the country have already created specialized protocols incorporating various combinations of WBV, traction and rehab exercises in the treatment of scoliosis.1 As mentioned above, the purpose of scoliosis treatment is to

a) Improve the pliability in the areas which are too rigid

b) Reposition the osseous structures via manipulation.

c) Improve strength and power in the tissues which lack strength.

d) Stabilize the structures, and

e) Improve the patient’s proprioceptive abilities.

WBV can help limbering and loosening tight tissues.

The vibrating impulses stimulate the Golgi tendon apparatus in muscles that have become tight and constricted. This activates a stretch and release reflex similar to the mechanisms used in the PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Technique), resulting in a high measure of muscular relaxation.2 Secondly, WBV helps to strengthen tissues. Vibration stimulates innate muscle spindle activation by increasing the load on the tissue. This rapid continual fi ring is known as the Tonic Vibratory Refl ex. It is regulated via spinal refl ex arc not unlike the Knee Jerk Refl ex. Years of  research of WBV have shown marked improvements in static, dynamic and explosive strength and power.3 Finally, the body responds to Whole.

  1. Clear Institute for treatment of Scoliosis- www. Clear-Institute.org.
  2. A-Acute Effects of Whole-Body Vibration on Lower Body Flexibility and Strength. Patricia A. Burns1; Kristina S. Beekhuizen1,2; Patrick L. Jacobs, FACSM1,2. University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami FL. 2) Miami VA.
  3. Effects of whole-body vibration and pnf stretching on the flexibility and range of movement in elite Australian Rules football players Ben Hinton1, John Quinn2, Michael Newton1, and Michael McGuigan11Edith Cowan University, AU.
  4. WILL WHOLE-BODY VIBRATION TRAINING HELP INCREASE THE RANGE OF MOTION OF THE HAMSTRINGS? ROLAND VAN DEN TILLAAR. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006, 20(1), 192–196q 2006 National Strength & Conditioning Association.
  5. Acute whole body vibration training increases vertical jump and flexibility performance in elite female field hockey players. D Cochrane and S Stannard, Massey University, Sport and Exercise, Palmerston North, New Zealand.  Br J Sports Med. 2005 November; 39(11): 860–865. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2005.01995.
  6. Effect of WBV on musclestrength and propri ception in females with knee osteoarthritis.  Trans T, Aaboe J, Henricksen M, Christensen R, Bliddal H, Lund H.  Clinical Motor Function Laboratory, The Parker Institute, Frederiksberg Hospital, Denmark.

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