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Can Vibration Therapy Promote Circulation?

Poor circulation has many causes. Vibration therapy for circulation shows promise for increasing blood flow to extremities and aiding in post-workout recovery.

You’ve likely experienced symptoms of poor circulation: cold hands or feet, tingling and numbness, leg cramping, or slow-healing wounds. Regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best solutions.

But what if you don’t have time to exercise? Or you’re battling an injury or have mobility issues?

Vibration therapy (VT) for circulation offers a potential solution. VT involves standing on a vibrating platform, which delivers gentle vibrations throughout the body. These waves stimulate muscles, engage hard-to-reach muscle groups, and provide a temporary boost to circulation.

The effect of VT is like exercise. However, vibration is low-impact, and research suggests vibration for circulation may provide a long-term solution. In fact, according to one randomized trial [1], a single three-minute session of vibration therapy was sufficient in healthy individuals to “significantly enhance muscle microvascular dysfunction.”

Sound interesting? Let’s look at circulation issues, their causes, and how vibration therapy may help to stimulate circulation for cramps and athletic recovery.

The Important Role of Circulation

The circulatory system, or cardiovascular system, is vital for our survival.

In fact, cardiovascular diseases are the most common circulatory system problem. And they kill one American adult every 33 seconds, according to CDC figures [2].

The cardiovascular system includes the heart, blood vessels, and plasma. Its primary role is to pump blood, oxygen, and nutrients to vital organs. However, it also plays a role in waste removal, taking byproducts like carbon dioxide to the lungs and kidneys for elimination.

When our circulatory system dysfunctions, we experience a wide range of symptoms like

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in legs or arms
  • Cold intolerance
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the legs or ankles

What Causes Circulation Problems?

The most common causes of cardiovascular and circulatory problems are familiar. Smoking, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity, for example, can all affect how our bodies circulate blood and nutrients.

Sendentary lifestyles, for instance, are a common cause of circulatory issues.

The lack of activity, for example, slows blood flow. This increases plaque buildup (from cholesterol and fat), which then narrows the arteries. Additionally, regular exercise improves the elasticity of the veins. Therefore, a lack of activity weakens and stiffens the veins, reducing blood flow.

Vibration therapy, however, may offer a low-impact way to improve circulation.

What Is Vibration Therapy? And How Does It Improve Circulation?

Vibration therapy involves the use of a vibrating platform to stimulate the muscles. This effect is very similar to exercise, but it’s low impact and triggers a much faster contract-relax cycle in the muscles.

There are many potential benefits to this muscle activation. Vibration therapy, for example, improves blood flow and circulation (like regular exercise). Additionally, it’s believed it stimulates lymphatic drainage, which drains waste products from the muscles, and as a result, promotes circulation. And there’s some evidence that vibration therapy might produce nitric oxide, a vasodilator, which opens up the arteries to promote blood flow.

Here’s a closer look at each of these benefits:

1. Increased Blood Flow

Vibration therapy induces rapid muscle contractions and relaxation. These muscle movements mimic the effects of exercise.

As muscles contract and relax, they compress nearby blood vessels, forcing blood to circulate more rapidly. This heightened muscle activation leads to an immediate increase in blood flow to the treated areas.

Many studies have examined this effect. A 2007 study in Medical Science Monitor [3] found that vibration therapy doubled mean skin blood flow, compared to non-treatment groups. Another 2010 study [4] found that vibration therapy increased “peak blood velocity” a measure of circulation after 1, 2 and 3 minutes of treatment, especially when using 30 Hz vibration.

These studies suggest vibration positive influences short-term circulation, and ultimately, provides a cardio-like exercise but in a shorter amount of time.

2. Enhanced Lymphatic Drainage

Vibration therapy may also support lymphatic system function. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing metabolic byproducts and damaged cells that accumulate in the muscles after exercise or massage.

Vibration therapy has a natural vasodilation effect. For example, a 2016 study [5] explored venous diameter after vibration therapy in an animal model, finding that VT significantly increased venous diameter.

In other words, the improved lymphatic drainage is a secondary benefit to improved circulation. Another study found [6] that combining vibration therapy with manual lymphatic drainage, a type of massage, significantly improved treatments for lipedema.

3. Improved Vascular Function

Regular use of this form of therapy has been shown to positively affect the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. The endothelium plays a crucial role in regulating blood vessel tone and function.

Enhanced vascular function can lead to more efficient blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and overall cardiovascular health benefits.

Several small studies have explored this. A 2017 study [7] found that in obese individuals, vibration therapy positively influenced arterial stiffness, which may suggest it offers support for vascular health. Another three-month study [8] found vibration therapy had a “positive effect on arterial stiffness.”

Benefits of Improved Circulation

Improving circulation with a vibration platform or making lifestyle changes can impact your health. Some of the key benefits include:

1. Energy Boost

Improved blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. This translates to increased energy levels and a feeling of vitality. You’ll notice this effect from exercise; you might feel more energy or avoid an afternoon crash.

2. Sharper Mind

Your brain relies on oxygen to function properly. Better circulation through exercise or by using a vibration machine can lead to improved cognitive function, sharper thinking, and enhanced memory.

3. Faster Wound Healing

Proper blood flow carries essential nutrients and oxygen to tissues. Your cells use these nutrients to repair and heal. Therefore, improving circulation can help to protect tissues and speed up wound recovery.

4. Improved Immunity

The circulatory system delivers white blood cells throughout the body. These cells play an important role in fighting off infection and illness. Therefore, improved circulation promotes the delivery of white blood cells, which may help you fight sicknesses more efficiently.

5. Digestive Support

When you eat, the nutrients from food are delivered to your digestive tract thanks to the circulatory system. Improving cardiovascular function can help to make digestion more efficient and lead to improved nutrient absorption.

6. Better Exercise Performance

Good circulation allows your muscles to receive the oxygen they need. This facilitates better performance, as well as muscle endurance. This affects you on-and-off the field. During exercise, you’ll experience more energy and strength, and off, it can help you recover faster.

Getting Started with Vibration Therapy for Circulation

Here’s a roadmap for people interested in incorporating vibration therapy into their wellness routines:

Step 1: Consultation (Optional but Recommended)

Talk to your doctor. Especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions, like pregnancy, blood clots, or nerve damage. They can advise you on whether vibration therapy is suitable and recommend a specific approach.

Step 2: Choose Your Vibration Therapy Method

There are two main options:

  • Whole Body Vibration (WBV): This involves using a platform that vibrates while you stand, sit, or perform exercises on it. Gyms often have them, or you can purchase a home unit.
  • Localized Vibration Therapy: This uses a handheld device applied directly to targeted areas of your body. These are readily available online or at drugstores.

Step 3: Start Slow and Gentle

First-time jitters? Begin with short sessions (around 10-15 minutes) at a low intensity level. Gradually increase the duration and intensity as your body adjusts.

Step 4: Frequency and Integration

Aim for consistency. 2-3 sessions per week is a good starting point. You can incorporate it into your existing routine – pre-workout for warmup, post-workout for recovery, or as a standalone relaxation session.

Step 5: Listen to Your Body

Pay attention. If you experience any discomfort, pain, dizziness, or numbness, stop the session and consult your doctor.

Wrapping Up: A Non-Invasive Treatment for Circulatory Problems

If you’re experiencing circulatory problems, vibration therapy shows promise as a non-invasive treatment. Even better, it’s low-impact. Therefore, if you have mobility issues, pre-existing conditions, or injury, VT may be helpful for facilitating exercise and circulation without the need for strenuous exercise.

However, the benefits are clear:

  • Better Circulation
  • Muscle Recovery
  • Pain Relief
  • Increased Flexibility

If you’re interested in trying it, first consult with a healthcare professional. At a minimum, it can be a great complementary approach to managing circulatory issues.

Hue Light USA offers at-home and commercial vibration therapy machines (Sonix Sonicwave). Contact our sales team today to learn more.

Medical / Research References

1. Betik AC, Parker L, Kaur G, Wadley GD, Keske MA. Whole-Body Vibration Stimulates Microvascular Blood Flow in Skeletal Muscle. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Feb 1;53(2):375-383. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002463. PMID: 32826637.

2. Heart Disease Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

3. Lohman EB 3rd, Petrofsky JS, Maloney-Hinds C, Betts-Schwab H, Thorpe D. The effect of whole body vibration on lower extremity skin blood flow in normal subjects. Med Sci Monit. 2007 Feb;13(2):CR71-6. PMID: 17261985.

4. Herrero AJ, Menéndez H, Gil L, Martín J, Martín T, García-López D, Gil-Agudo A, Marín PJ. Effects of whole-body vibration on blood flow and neuromuscular activity in spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. 2011 Apr;49(4):554-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2010.151. Epub 2010 Nov 2. PMID: 21042329.

5. Pastouret F, Cardozo L, Lamote J, Buyl R, Lievens P. Effects of Multidirectional Vibrations Delivered in a Horizontal Position (Andullation®) on Blood Microcirculation in Laboratory Animals: A Preliminary Study. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2016 Oct 14;22:115-122. doi: 10.12659/msmbr.900654. PMID: 27739419; PMCID: PMC5077302.

6. Schneider R. Low-frequency vibrotherapy considerably improves the effectiveness of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) in patients with lipedema: A two-armed, randomized, controlled pragmatic trial. Physiother Theory Pract. 2020 Jan;36(1):63-70. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1479474. Epub 2018 May 30. PMID: 29847188.

7. Alvarez-Alvarado S, Jaime SJ, Ormsbee MJ, Campbell JC, Post J, Pacilio J, Figueroa A. Benefits of whole-body vibration training on arterial function and muscle strength in young overweight/obese women. Hypertens Res. 2017 May;40(5):487-492. doi: 10.1038/hr.2016.178. Epub 2017 Jan 12. PMID: 28077859.

8. Lai CL, Chen HY, Tseng SY, Liao WC, Liu BT, Lee MC, Chen HS. Effect of whole-body vibration for 3 months on arterial stiffness in the middle-aged and elderly. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 May 12;9:821-8. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S60029. PMID: 24872684; PMCID: PMC4026558.

FAQs

What is vibration therapy, and how does it benefit circulation?

Vibration therapy involves applying vibrations to the body. It can be done using a platform you stand on (whole-body vibration) or with a handheld device applied directly to specific areas. This therapy is thought to improve circulation in two ways:

  • Muscle contractions: The vibrations trigger reflex muscle contractions, which act like a pump, squeezing blood through veins back towards the heart. This is especially helpful in the legs where circulation can be sluggish.
  • Capillary action: Vibrations may directly affect tiny blood vessels called capillaries, responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues. Vibration is thought to help them dilate and constrict, improving blood flow through them.

How does vibration therapy improve blood flow?

The two mechanisms mentioned above contribute to improved blood flow. Muscle contractions act like a pump, and vibrations may directly influence the function of capillaries, both leading to more efficient blood movement throughout the body.

What are the potential benefits of vibration therapy for circulation?

Improved circulation due to vibration therapy can lead to several benefits, including:

  • Reduced fatigue and coldness in the extremities, especially hands and feet.
  • Faster healing of wounds and injuries due to better delivery of nutrients.
  • Enhanced cognitive function as the brain receives more oxygen. This is one reason vibration may support mental health.

Who can benefit from vibration therapy for circulation?

People with conditions that impair circulation, such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease, may see improvements with vibration therapy. Additionally, those who sit for long periods or experience poor circulation in their hands and feet might find it helpful. Vibration therapy also be effective for managing neuropathy symptoms or pain.

Can vibration therapy replace other forms of exercise for improving circulation?

No, vibration therapy shouldn't replace exercise for circulation. While it can be beneficial, exercise remains a cornerstone for improving circulation. Activities like walking, swimming, and cycling promote overall cardiovascular health and blood flow more comprehensively. Vibration therapy can be a complementary approach alongside exercise. One approach: exercise on a vibration platform to maximize benefits.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a direct reference to any products offered by Hue Light USA or any specific brand. We do not claim that our products can achieve the effects or benefits discussed in this content. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice or as an endorsement of any specific product or treatment. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding their health or wellness regimen.

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