Six weeks of whole-body vibration exercise improves pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia.

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):975-81.
Alentorn-Geli E, Padilla J, Moras G, Haro CL, Fernández-Solà J.
Laboratory of Biomechanics, INEF-Exercise and Sport Sciences School, University of Barcelona,
PMID: 18990045

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a 6-week traditional exercise program with supplementary whole-body vibration (WBV) in improving health status, physical functioning, and main symptoms of fibromyalgia (FM) in women with FM.

METHODS: Thirty-six (36) women with FM (mean +/- standard error of the mean age 55.97 +/- 1.55) were randomized into 3 treatment groups: exercise and vibration (EVG), exercise (EG), and control (CG). Exercise therapy, consisting of aerobic activities, stretching, and relaxation techniques, was performed twice a week (90 min/day). Following each exercise session, the EVG underwent a protocol with WBV, whereas the EG performed the same protocol without vibratory stimulus. The Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) was administered at baseline and 6 weeks following the initiation of the treatments. Estimates of pain, fatigue, stiffness, and depression were also reported using the visual analogue scale.

RESULTS: A significant 3 x 2 (group x time)-repeated measures analysis of variance interaction was found for pain (p = 0.018) and fatigue (p = 0.002) but not for FIQ (p = 0.069), stiffness (p = 0.142), or depression (p = 0.654). Pain and fatigue scores were significantly reduced from baseline in the EVG, but not in the EG or CG. In addition, the EVG showed significantly lower pain and fatigue scores at week 6 compared to the CG, whereas no significant differences were found between the EG and CG (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Results suggest that a 6-week traditional exercise program with supplementary WBV safely reduces pain and fatigue, whereas exercise alone fails to induce improvements.


Whole body vibration (WBV) refers to a machine with a flat plate on which a person stands, that stimulates the whole body by tilting slightly around an axle. The person who stands on the machine tries to keep the head and body steady and upright. All the muscles that keep the body in this position are forced to react to the oscillatory movements provided by the machine, thus exercising them.

In order to elicit a stretch reflex in the muscles, the major contributing factor to an exercise program that can be achieved with vibration platforms, the up-down movement is the most important. Remember that human bodies are designed to absorb vertical vibrations better due to the effects of gravity. However, many machines vibrate in three different directions: sideways (x), front and back (y) and up and down (z), which could cause significant side effects after prolonged time of use. The z-axis has the largest amplitude and is the most defining component in generating and inducing muscle contractions. Concerning the z-movements two principle types of systems can be distinguished: side alternating systems, operating like a see-saw and hence mimicking the human gait where always one foot is moving upwards and the other one downwards and systems where the whole platform is mainly doing the same motion respectively both feet are moved upwards or downwards at the same time (Abercromby et al 2007 ; Burkhard 2006). Systems with side alternation offer a larger amplitude of oscillation and a frequency range of about 5 Hz to 35 Hz the other systems offer lower amplitudes but higher frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 50 Hz. Despite the larger Amplitudes of side-alternating systems the vibration (acceleration) transmitted to the head is significantly lower than in non side-alternating systems (Abercromby et al 2007).