Whole-Body Vibration Exercise as a Treatment Option for Chronic Lower Back Pain

  • Jörn RittwegerEmail author


Occupational exposure to vibration has long been seen as an important cause of chronic lower back pain (CLBP). However, research has also established that CLBP is associated with reduction or loss of spinal reflexes in the trunk musculature, and also with hampered lumbo-pelvic proprioception. It was therefore hoped that whole-body vibration (WBV), which has been shown to elicit muscle stretch and stretch reflexes, can help to re-establish functionality in the trunk musculature.

Studies into the acute spinal responses to vibration support this idea. Independent of this, vibration seems to also reduce the perception of pain in the trunk musculature and elsewhere. Today, a series of clinical studies with more than 300 patients effectively demonstrates the suitability of WBV as a treatment of CLBP, with improvements in pain sensation, in disability, in pelvic flexibility, in pelvic proprioception, in quality of life and in habitual physical activity levels. Thus, WBV lends itself for application in CLBP treatment on a larger scale.

Future research should also try to establish which types of vibration exposures (exercising vs. occupational) and which dosage (amplitude, frequency, shape, duration) determine whether vibration is helpful or detrimental.


Nociception Disability Pain Physiotherapy Occupational medicine Non-specific lower back pain 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Aerospace Medicine, German Aerospace Center (DLR)CologneGermany
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent MedicineUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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