Vibration training machines promise faster results in a short period of time. These machines feature a platform with a pedestal. You adjust the amplitude and frequency of the machine's vibrations and stand on the platform to perform stretches, strength-training exercises and core movements. The vibration challenges your balance, causing your muscles to constantly fire. Some manufacturers claim the machine offers a better workout than you get on solid ground, while enhancing flexibility, reducing pain, building muscle and combating osteoporosis. Whether vibration machines can deliver on these promises is unclear. Use of the machine does come with possible dangers – especially if used improperly or by people with specific medical conditions.

Disease Complications

People with heart disease may experience a worsening of their symptoms, including shortness of breath, swelling and fatigue, when using the vibration plate. If you suffer from an acute hernia, disc problems or back problems, use of the plate could lead to damage of the spine. Do not use the plate if you have a pacemaker -- it could trigger a heart attack or damage the implant. Thrombosis patients might throw a clot due to the vibration, resulting in a mild or major stroke. People with retinal detachment, severe migraines and cancerous tumors should also avoid the machine.

Migration of Implants

Manufacturers warn people with hip or knee replacements not to use the machine because it could lead to shifting of these prostheses. People with pins or other metal implants should avoid the machine for similar reasons. If you have recently had an intrauterine device implanted, you should also avoid the plate to avoid it becoming dislodged.


The vibration plate can dislodge kidney stones – even if you are unaware you have them -- causing severe pain, nausea and vomiting. In one instance, as reported in the December 2007 issue of the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness,” a person with asymptomatic kidney stones died after using a whole body vibration machine. Gallstones and bladder stones may also be loosened with regular use of the plate, causing serious complications.

Other Contraindications

People with epilepsy, dementia and severe diabetes should not use the vibration machine because it could cause falling. The vibration plate can impede healing of ulcers, surgical sites and open wounds. It could cause damage to the joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women risk miscarriage by using the vibration machine.


Some manufacturers recommend you use the vibration machine no more than 30 minutes per day. Using it too much could lead to hearing loss, blurred vision, low back pain and cartilage damage. Clinton Rubin, a biomedical engineering professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook, told the Associated Press in May 2007 that chronic exposure to the vibration plate could even cause brain damage. Plates with gentler vibrations may be of benefit, but many in the gym are too intense, he warns. Occasional use of the plate is unlikely to cause these serious complications.


If you suffer from one of the conditions that is contraindicated for whole body vibration, you may still be able to incorporate whole body vibration into training but you should check with your doctor before using the machine. Use of a whole body vibration machine is not regulated in the gym. Outside the gym, whole body vibration is addressed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While no limits are set for whole body vibration, the organization asks that workplaces monitor work sites that include vibration, such as boats, trains and airplanes. The time limit for exposure to whole body vibration, according to OSHA, is dependent on comfort and performance. If the vibration is so significant that you cannot read or perform your duties, the vibration is too intense for long-term exposure. Eight-hour, two-hour and 30-minute recommendations are given, depending on the amplitude and frequency of the vibration. If limits are set at work sites, it only makes sense that you limit your exposure at the gym as well.