Whole-body vibration (WBV) therapy is one of the most potent therapeutic tools in the equestrian’s proverbial toolbox.
Studies have shown it stimulates muscles and improves circulation, boosting the body’s ability to heal itself. Horses that receive regular vibration therapy sessions also perform better and are less injury prone.
What Is Whole-Body Vibration Therapy?
Whole-body vibration therapy utilizes a large vibrating platform. The horse stands on the platform, which delivers vibrations of varying magnitude (up and down motion) and frequency (cycles per second). The user controls the frequency and sets a timer—for example, a typical session might last for 20 minutes at frequencies between 30 and 50 Hz.
The History of Whole-Body Vibration Therapy
The benefits of vibration therapy have been known for many decades. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (of breakfast cereal fame) invented the first standing vibration plate for humans more than a century ago. He believed vibration therapy could stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and provide relief for problems like back pain, headaches, and constipation.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that vibration therapy really took off. That’s when NASA scientists began to research its effectiveness for combating bone density loss and muscle weakness in astronauts exposed to zero-gravity conditions.
Human studies have found that whole-body vibration therapy improves bone density, increases muscle mass, improves circulation, reduces joint pain, reduces back pain, alleviates stress, and boosts metabolism. While fewer studies have been done on equines, there is compelling evidence vibration therapy is good for horses, too.
Here are some of the known benefits of horse vibration plates:
- Back muscle development: In one study, nine horses aged 9 to 18 underwent 30 minutes of whole-body vibration therapy twice a day, 5 days a week, for 60 days. Ultrasounds showed significant increases in the size and symmetry of the multifidus muscle. This important deep back muscle helps stabilize the spine for proper balance, posture, and motion. Keeping the multifidus strong helps prevent or delay lameness and reduces back pain.
- Hoof growth: Horses that underwent whole-body vibration (WBV) for 30 minutes per day, twice a day, five days a week, for 60 days had significant increases in hoof growth rates during the first 30 days of treatment, according to a study involving 10 horses.
- Ligament healing: Tendon and ligament injuries need to be handled carefully. Most horses with these injuries are on limited exercise. WBV therapy stimulates tendons and ligaments without the impact of trotting or cantering, reduces the healing time, and increases the quality of the healed tissue.
- Stress and pain relief: There is evidence that vibration therapy has a calming effect on horses and may provide pain relief. A study at Michigan State University found that horses treated with whole-body vibration therapy appeared to relax with each treatment, while control horses were restless by comparison. Similarly, a study from Middle Tennessee State University found a decrease in heart rate in horses that underwent WBV therapy, which might suggest the treatment calms the animals or decreases pain.
Whole-body vibration therapy is an excellent addition to any exercise/rehab program. Always check with your vet to determine whether WBV therapy is right for your horse.
Vitafloor: A Leader in Whole-Body Vibration Therapy Technology
Vitafloor’s proven technology for equine vibration therapy is used by top equestrians throughout the world. Vitafloor pioneered the first horse vibration plate system to help horses recover faster from injuries and improve their performance.
Vitafloor horse vibration plates are constructed which a thick, rigid platform topped by a layer of rubber. Our user-friendly models can be set to various frequencies for training, rehabilitation, or maintenance. We offer several vibration plate models, including the VM1, VM2, and the Vitafloor VMC (our smallest model). For the VMC, we also offer a side bar system upgrade and a ramp system. View our complete line of quality whole-body vibration plates for horses.