The History Behind Whole Body Vibration

The History Behind Whole Body Vibration

Gustav Zander (1835 – 1920), a gymnast, physician, and inventor from Sweden, developed never-before-seen apparatus in the 1800’s that used springs, weights, and pulley systems to create over 70 machines that were used for therapeutic exercise. Many of his machines utilized vibration. Zander popularized his exercise machines by traveling to World Fairs and by founding early forms of modern day health clubs.

In 1895, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes- the one with the Corn Flakes) was the next inventor to utilize vibration technology for health and wellness. Aside from coming up with Corn Flakes, Dr. Kellogg claimed his Michigan-made vibrating chair was a magic pill that cured any ailment you can imagine.

The Germans picked up on the health and wellness benefits that vibration technology offered in the 1960’s by developing an exercise technique called rhythmic neuromuscular stimulation.

Then the Russians moved vibration technology forward for good in the 1960’s. The space race between the Russians from Eastern Europe and the United States from the west fueled research and development of all kinds of new products. The Soviets quickly realized that being exposed to 0 gravity conditions in outer space caused severe deterioration of bone mineral density and muscle tissue. The concept of humans living with the constant force of Earth’s gravity is where the theory behind WBV originated.

The Russian space program used Whole Body Vibration as a way to simulate weight bearing loads for their cosmonauts while training and rehabbing before, during, and after trips in outer space. Introducing WBV in 0 gravity conditions was something that worked to simulate the forces of gravity when there wasn’t any. Cosmonauts used WBV machines to maintain bone mineral density and muscle strength. Instead of being too weak to walk upon returning from orbit, the Russian cosmonauts were returning from space in almost the same condition as when they left.

Ever wonder why the Russians were so dominant in the Olympics during the 1980’s. You guessed it…their athletes were using WBV regularly in training and rehabilitation programs.

German Universities continued their own research on the effects of WBV. An enormous amount of studies were done on a variety of effects on the body, such as WBV and Osteoporosis, Developing muscle mass, Improving balance and Circulation, Rehabilitation for injuries, Weight loss, and the like.

Fast forward to the 2000’s. The technology behind WBV was proven and had been accepted in Europe for years. The 2000’s are when I began to see several WBV manufacturers attempt to penetrate the mainstream U.S. market. They were primarily targeting fitness institutions and professional sports teams with big machines that were priced in excess of $10,000. These companies were starting to get a small following but struggled to establish a significant marketplace because very few Americans knew about WBV or what it was used for. Millions of dollars were spent on advertising, but they pitched it mainly as an exercise and weight loss solution.

It seemed peculiar that these companies were only focusing on such a small piece of what the machines were capable of doing. WBV has such a wide range of applications and is cap