Vibration Therapy History

Vibration therapy began in 1857 by a Swedish doctor, Gustav Zander. He built 70 different exercise machines some of which were a type of vibration exercise. After exhibiting at two Worlds fairs, he started the Zander Institutes, which were an early form of today’s health clubs and proved to be very popular through out the world. The Netherlands had 9 centers at one point. 

A little later in 1895 in Battle Creek, Michigan, the developer of corn flakes, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, invented a whole-body vibration machine. This was a unique chair design that shook violently and claimed to cure constipation, headaches and back pain. To stimulate the inner organs, he also developed a standing platform. 

In 1960 the beginning of today’s vibration exercise techniques was begun in East Germany with a technique called rhythmic neuromuscular stimulation. 

Russian scientists began the real studies of Whole Body Vibration and fine-tuned this technology for years. They used this technology for many years to help rehabilitate their cosmonauts after returning from space to help repair muscles from atrophy and bone density due to the weightlessness of space. Many were so weak that they needed assistance in walking after emerging from the aircraft. The scientists reasoned that providing a form of therapy that focused on hyper gravitational force it could yield an effective treatment. These Russian researchers found that not only did that stop the loss, but amazingly it also increased bone density and strengthened muscle tissue. They also used this technology then to prevent injury to their Olympic athletes. In the event one of their athletes did injure themselves, they were put on a WBV plate to rehabilitate the injury. 

After the fall of Communism in Russia, Whole Body Vibration technology made its way east and west. This technology continued to be studied and enhanced. It has taken both the Orient and Europe by storm. Even though there were meager beginnings in the United States, vibration exercise really has not been in the United States for very long. In the past only wealthy, sports teams, or doctor’s offices were the only places you could find a WBV unit. These units usually cost $10,000 or more. After decades of research, NASA, many professional athletes, sports teams, medical centers, spas and health clubs have embraced this technology. 

The Whole Body Vibration technology centers on a recurrent change of position on a vibrating platform with the specific physical factors of amplitude, frequency and time. The muscles are stimulated to work by the stretch reflex. You are probably familiar this type reflex when the doctor taps the patella tendon below the kneecap and the lower leg moves upwards without the brain being able to prevent the movement. When the muscles are activated with the stretch reflex we get a number of benefits not seen during regular exercise. Normally, we do not use all our muscles for standing or moving. With the Whole Body Vibration, the stretch reflex ensures that all muscle fibers are being stimulated at one time. The muscle responds to vibration by contracting to offset the stress it imposes and is ensured to produce effective results for your physical therapy needs.

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