Vibration plate contraindications: Know these before you start

Although there are vibration plate contraindications, whole body vibration therapy is being provided by more doctors and therapists than ever before. If you are like most people that have shown interest in vibration training, then you may have seen the vibration plate contraindications that pop up on every website. Most consumers get surprised by these and unfortunately begin to believe that vibration exercise may not be right for them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you are a consumer or a health or fitness professional, this article goes over some of these vibration plate contraindications and gives you a good idea on how vibration exercise machines can help you.

Vibration plate contraindications are ‘precautions’ only

I had a cardiologist that sent me patients that were either deconditioned or came out of surgery and needed some form of strength training. He understood the value of vibration therapy and how it could help with strengthening without putting a lot of stress on the heart. One day, he sent me a patient with a pacemaker. My new therapist had told the patient they would not be allowed to work with them because a pacemaker was one of several vibration plate contraindications. We cleared things up and the patient was able to use the vibration plate. My therapist got caught up in the whole ‘contraindication’ list and assumed that these people were not allowed to use the vibration exercise machines. He didn’t realize that these vibration plate contraindications are actually ‘precautions’. That means a person should take them into consideration, see a health professional prior to starting an exercise program, and be a bit more careful not to over do it.

Origin of vibration plate contraindications

Vibration training originated from Russia, similar to electrical muscle stimulation. The contraindications for vibration exercise were conveniently taken from electrical stimulation and placed on vibration. However, once you go through each contraindication, you’ll realize that most of them are just precautions. A health professional that places a patient on a vibration platform knows that the reason to use the vibration technology depends on the patient goals, stage of healing, and feedback and close monitoring of their therapy.

Vibration plate therapy is just like any other form of exercise

Although we’ve seen some great results with vibration therapy, the decision to place someone on the vibration platform is no different than the decision to know when to place someone on a strengthening program. Of course there are subtle differences, but the rationale is the same. For someone coming off a surgery to the knee, has the patient healed enough to warrant strength training? Is there potential to provide a deep tissue massage distal to the surgery so we can begin with increasing circulation? How about starting the patient on a full body workout with vibration, but avoiding the surgical area? This will help with increasing fitness and eventually lead to better results from what we call the ‘cross over effect.’ We’ve seen some great results doing this with athletes that have come off ACL knee surgery. They started vibration training immediately for the rest of their body, which helped maintain their conditioning and strength.

Absolute vibration plate contraindications

Although most of the contraindications are precautions, there are some ‘absolute’ ones. Pregnancy, active cancer, recent fracture, acute inflammation, current blood clots, and recent surgery are some that you want to avoid vibration plate exercises with. Pacemaker used to be an absolute contraindication. However, there are no ‘electrical’ impulses from a vibration platform. Hence, there is no need to deny someone with a pacemaker the benefits of strength and flexibility through vibration therapy. Best thing to do is discuss with the patient’s doctor or specialist on what you are looking to achieve. We’ve also had some women that became pregnant while they were undergoing vibration training. This will not cause any adverse effects. We simply will stop vibration training until they have their baby.

I hope this provides a simple overview of  vibration plate contraindications. At the end of the day, most of these are no different than any other form of exercise. With any type of exercise, consulting a health or fitness professional is always a good idea before you begin something new, especially when there are vibration plate contraindications.

About the Author Dr. Jasper Sidhu

Dr. Jasper Sidhu has been using vibration platforms for over 10 years in rehabilitation, sports, fitness and weight loss settings. In addition to hands on treatment of patients and clients in these settings, he has lectured at various universities and medical association meetings on the application of vibration training.  

Leave a Comment:

Chris Curlee says February 24, 2013

I am a PT student and doing a presentation on WBV therapy and need to know if these contraindications are supported by the FDA. Thank you

    Dr. Jasper Sidhu says February 25, 2013

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for your question. Can you expand further on your question on whether the contraindications are ‘supported by the FDA’? Do you mean are they verified by the FDA to be contraindications? To get a good start about the history of the contraindications, please check out the following article:

    You can also check out an article i did about hip and knee replacements as being contraindications here:

    The point is, contraindications are really ‘precautions’. With any form of exercise or therapy that you utilize in your practice, there are absolute and relative contraindications that you abide by. However, the final decision is based on clinical judgment on and whether you feel a patient can benefit from the treatment you are providing. A lot of the original contraindications were designed to provide examples of conditions that may need medical approval prior to starting vibration. Over the last 10 years, I know quite a few physical therapists and doctors utilizing vibration on patients with these contraindications. Take a look at the articles and if you have any other questions, or if I misinterpreted your question in any way, please let me know. Thanks

Lise Willcox says May 9, 2013

Hi Dr Sidhu, I had my lower back fused 8 years ago with good results and am fitter now, I started working out at local gym with PT who likes to use the plates as part of the routeen. I use them about 30 mins a week and was planning to increase that in my non PT sessions. However a friend who is a sports injury specialist was concerned about contraindications … Never heard of that.. Found your site and here we are!! I have 3 concerns:

1) my lower back is fused via plates and screws in a box around the lower spine, will this loosen with the intense vibration? My friend thinks the screws will come loose.
2) I suffer hypothyroidism, which is drug treated, this is ok isn’t it?
3) I am starting IVF involving steroids and blood thinning injections, presumably that’s ok too!

    Dr. Jasper Sidhu says May 15, 2013

    Hi Lisa

    thanks for the questions. In your case it may get a bit more complicated but here are a few key points to remember. Also remember that you will need to consult your physician and base your decision on the general responses here and what your physician will say:

    1. With respect to ‘screws coming loose’, that’s something i haven’t seen. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen. However, there are a few factors to take into consideration: Most vibration propogates to the muscles. The frequencies that you are training at are designed to elicit the stretch reflex of muscles. You are also in ‘exercise positions’ when you are doing vibration training. That means that only the muscles will get the vibration stimulus. If you stand on a machine straight up with all your weight on your heels, then you are most likely getting vibration impact on your joints and not your muscles. However, try jumping up and down with your knees straight and you’ll realise that this really isn’t a comfortable position. If you aren’t going to do this standing and jumping you aren’t going to put your body in this position while on a vibration machine. Hence, positioning is important.

    Running, or jumping rope can have similar impact on your body. If your doctor says you aren’t allowed to do that, then you should also be wary of vibration.

    2. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, vibration is okay. Another way to look at it is this: If you have hypothyroidism, is there any contraindication for you to engage in a strength training exercise program? If not, then it shouldn’t be any different for vibration since vibration is ‘an exercise’ machine and nothing more.

    3. With blood thinners and steroids, that’s something you need to discuss with your physician. Just note this. Vibration exercise is simply an exercise machine that generates muscle contractions, increases circulation and puts positive stresses on your bones, similar to strength training. If any of these things are to be avoided, then you shouldn’t do vibration. If strength training, circulation and positive impact on your bones is indicated, then vibration is an excellent form of exercise for you. Again, everything in moderation.

    I hope that answers your question.

Lynette says February 25, 2014

Many years ago I had an ANA test to determine volume of inflammation. I see that one of the contradictions is acute inflammation, which I think I may have once again, as I did back then. Should I take another ANA to find out before using the vibe plate?

    Dr. Jasper Sidhu says March 1, 2014

    hi Lynette

    You have to look at these ‘contraindications’ as ‘precautions’. When we talk about acute inflammation, we are basically talking about things like a recent ankle sprain. That’s just a simple example. If you have an acute inflammation, you’ll have local swelling, pain, and restriction of movement. For that, any form of exercise may give you pain. Trying a vibration platform is no different than if you went to the gym and engaged in weight training exercises. The worst thing that happens is when someone goes overboard with their exercises from the outset.

    If you are going to try a vibration platform, consider taking it easy and see how your body responds. If you feel you have an acute inflammation, check with your physician to see if an exercise would help.

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