Short-term Effects of Whole-Body Vibration on Functional Mobility and Flexibility in Healthy, Older Adults: A Randomized Crossover Study

Tsuji, Taishi MS; Kitano, Naruki MS; Tsunoda, Kenji PhD; Himori, Erika MS; Okura, Tomohiro PhD; Tanaka, Kiyoji PhD

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: April/June 2014 - Volume 37 - Issue 2 - p 58–64
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e318295dacd
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Whole-body vibration (WBV) training is a relatively new approach for enhancing muscle strength, physical performance, and flexibility. The aim of this study was to examine whether short-term WBV training by using the triple-plane vertical vibration device (ie, acceleration training [AT]) improves functional mobility and flexibility in healthy, older adults.

Methods: Eighteen healthy, older adults (9 men and 9 women; mean age 69.1 years; standard deviation, 2.5 years) participated in this randomized, crossover study. Two static stretching positions, half-squatting and hamstrings stretching, were performed with (AT) and without (control [Con]) vibration stimulus (frequency, 40 Hz; amplitude, 2-4 mm). The intervention consisted of stretching for 30 seconds per set × 3 sets per position, alternating between the 2 stretching positions. The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test was measured to determine functional mobility, which is closely linked to lower extremity muscle function. Sit-and-Reach and Functional Reach tests were performed to evaluate flexibility.

Results: Only the TUG test demonstrated a significant time × intervention interaction: TUG test results improved significantly immediately and 30 minutes after the AT but not after the Con intervention. We found significant main effects of time on the Sit-and-Reach and Functional Reach results. Furthermore, the improvement rates after the AT intervention were greater than the improvement rates after the Con intervention at the immediate and 30-minute posttests.

Conclusion: Short-term WBV training by using the triple-plane vertical vibration device elicited a significantly larger improvement in functional mobility than training without WBV. The effect on flexibility was similar with and without vibration stimulus, but there was a greater tendency to improve with WBV training in healthy, older adults. In addition, these short-term effects were maintained for about 30 minutes.

1Doctoral Program in Physical Education, Health and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

2Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

3Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare Physical Fitness Research Institute, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan.

4Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Address correspondence to: Taishi Tsuji, MS, Health, Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8574, Japan (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA