Category: Vibration exercise

Twenty years from the the first paper

Recently, I have been tidying up files on old hard drives to move the files to cloud based storage in order to have easier access and reduce cluttering. Going back to old files brings back lots of memories and it is a good exercise in learning back about the development and activities I did in my career/life so far. Old pictures appear and old manuscripts written and never submitted also show up. Finally, old analysis files, notes, correspondence reminds you of many hours spent discussing/debating/working on various projects with many people. Working in Sport and Science gave me tremendous opportunities to meet really clever people and learn from them. One of them was my old mentor Prof. Bosco. It is amazing how many things which are now relevant in the sports science industry were introduced by him in the 90s and still stand strong. One of the many realisations of going through old files was that our first paper on whole body vibration was published 20 years ago. Yes 20! I was at the beginning of the PhD journey and this was one of the first projects conducted with the team I was coaching at the time.

The paper was published on Biology of Sport, and I had the help of some great people to make sense of the data and improve the writing to make it good enough to be accepted and published. The article is here, and I still treasure the notes/comments of Professors Josefz Tihanyi and Atko Viru both working with Prof. Bosco at the time on various collaborative efforts to understand better many aspects of strength training.

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This paper was the beginning of a series of efforts to understand more about the possibility to use vibration as an exercise intervention, and it was a follow-up to the work performed by Vladimir Issurin on segmental applications in athletes. I still remember the pride of the first acceptance letter. I also remember the sudden interest this experimental modality (at the time) raised in the sporting and academic World. Since then, hundreds of papers have been published on this topic by many research groups around the World and most seem to suggest that our intuition of using such modality to improve strength in various populations was not far-fetched. Sadly, marketing has got in the way with many commercial interests which have somehow impaired the development of such modality in my view, rather than exploiting better applications and safer guidelines. Also, it is kind of gone out of fashion and replaced by “newer” modalities. I do see in fact in many places I visit (gyms, hotels, fitness centres) some vibration platforms in corners mostly unused. It is sad to notice that young practitioners don’t seem to be interested in the applications of vibration anymore, however I am still convinced that there is still plenty of scope for its use not only in Sport but also to help various populations as evidenced by my work with colleagues at the Italian Auxology Institute. Finally, there is a lot of potential for applications in rehabilitation and for the elderly.

I remember the beginnings, when speaking at conferences I met loads of skeptics (lots of heads shaking in my first few talks at conferences) and had quite a few grant applications turned down. Things got better later on in my career (but funding agencies don’t seem to like non-pharmacological interventions…). However, fact is that 20 years from that paper, there is now a scientific community studying vibration and successfully showing what works and what does not work. Many still trying to figure out the exact mechanisms. The number of papers has exponentially increased, and while I marginally contribute to that literature still as my interests have changed, I am proud to have been part of the “pioneers” which started the scientific debate and evolution which for sure is providing some patients and sports people with another avenue to improve performance and quality of life. On the other end, what I am less proud of, is the fact that an industry of gurus and pseudo experts developed as a consequence of the work done by many institutions which have “confused” the end users rather than improving the outcomes and have barely invested in the scientific developments. This is similar to many other “industries’ in the sporting/fitness World where “experts” tend to appear and disappear when commercial gains become available and/or disappear. But that’s a topic for another post…as now it is time to be grateful for the journey which started with that paper 20 years ago under the mentorship of some of the greatest sports scientists in history.


Two new papers

Apologies for radio silence. It has been a buys few months with loads happening. I have now left Team GB and moved on to new adventures (I will talk about it soon). In the meantime two papers have been recently published and the abstracts are here.


Horm Metab Res. 2013 Apr 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Combination of External Load and Whole Body Vibration Potentiates the GH-releasing Effect of Squatting in Healthy Females.

Giunta M, Rigamonti AE, Agosti F, Patrizi A, Compri E, Cardinale M, Sartorio A.


Istituto Auxologico Italiano, IRCCS, Laboratorio Sperimentale di Ricerche Auxo-endocrinologiche, Milan and Piancavallo (VB), Italy.


In recent years, whole body vibration (WBV) has become an efficient complement or alternative to resistance training. Very limited data on the effects of different WBV protocols on anabolic hormones are available. In this study, we compared the growth hormone (GH), blood lactate (LA), and cortisol responses to different protocols involving WBV. Six healthy women recreationally active performed 10 sets of 12 dynamic squats in the following conditions: squatting alone (S), squatting+vibration (SV), squatting+external load (SE), and squatting+external load+vibration (SEV). All responses at the different stimuli determined acute increases in GH, cortisol, and LA. In particular, GH secretion significantly increased in all 4 conditions immediately after the exercise session compared to other time points. Furthermore, a significantly larger increase was identified following SEV as compared to the other conditions. Cortisol concentrations significantly decreased after S, SV and SE whereas they increased significantly following SEV. LA peaks occurred immediately at the end of each condition. However it reached statistical significance only following SEV. The results of our study demonstrate that the combination of squatting+external load+vibration (SEV) could represent the most suitable modality to potentiate the somatotropic function and, indirectly, to obtain an increase in muscle strength and positive changes in the body composition. Further studies are necessary in order to determine the chronic effects of this exercise modality on the hormonal profile.


Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Neuromuscular fatigue induced by whole-body vibration exercise.

Maffiuletti NA, Saugy J, Cardinale M, Micallef JP, Place N.


Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, Schulthess Clinic, Lengghalde 2, 8008, Zurich, Switzerland,


The aim of this study was to examine the magnitude and the origin of neuromuscular fatigue induced by half-squat static whole-body vibration (WBV) exercise, and to compare it to a non-WBV condition. Nine healthy volunteers completed two fatiguing protocols (WBV and non-WBV, randomly presented) consisting of five 1-min bouts of static half-squat exercise with a load corresponding to 50 % of their individual body mass. Neuromuscular fatigue of knee and ankle muscles was investigated before and immediately after each fatiguing protocol. The main outcomes were maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque, voluntary activation, and doublet peak torque. Knee extensor MVC torque decreased significantly (P < 0.01) and to the same extent after WBV (-23 %) and non-WBV (-25 %), while knee flexor, plantar flexor, and dorsiflexor MVC torque was not affected by the treatments. Voluntary activation of knee extensor and plantar flexor muscles was unaffected by the two fatiguing protocols. Doublet peak torque decreased significantly and to a similar extent following WBV and non-WBV exercise, for both knee extensors (-25 %; P < 0.01) and plantar flexors (-7 %; P < 0.05). WBV exercise with additional load did not accentuate fatigue and did not change its causative factors compared to non-WBV half-squat resistive exercise in recreationally active subjects.

New article published #3: whole body vibration effects on obese subjects

This article was published on Obesity Facts. It is the result of a collaboration i have with the Italian Auxological Institute. An organisation working every day to help obese patients and trying to develop innovative approaches to weight management. In this experiment we showed how whole body vibration with and without additional loading can induce acute increases in Growth Hormone which is very difficult to obtain with other forms of exercise in this population. In the obese, some endocrinological disturbances during acute endurance and resistance exercise have been identified inmany studies: a blunted growth hormone response, atrial natriuretic peptide and epinephrine release, and greater cortisol and insulin release. These hormonal disturbances might contribute to a suppressed lipolytic response, and/or suppressed skeletal muscle protein synthesis, as a result of acute endurance or resistance exercise, respectively. Our finding suggests that this form of exercise has the potential to be effective at least in the initial stages of an exercise programme in this population.

Obes Facts. 2012 Aug 24;5(4):567-574. [Epub ahead of print]

Growth Hormone-Releasing Effects of Whole Body Vibration Alone or Combined with Squatting plus External Load in Severely Obese Female Subjects.

Giunta M, Cardinale M, Agosti F, Patrizi A, Compri E, Rigamonti AE, Sartorio A.


Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Laboratorio Sperimentale di Ricerche Auxo-endocrinologiche, IRCCS, Milan, Italy.


Background: Whole body vibration (WBV) has been reported to exert growth hormone(GH)-releasing effects in healthy subjects. Despite the potential of WBV to positively affect body composition changes via lipolytic effects, few studies have been performed in obese subjects to date. Methods: This study evaluated the acute effects of WBV alone or in combination with squatting plus external load (WBV+S) on serum GH levels and blood lactate concentrations in 7 severely obese women (age 22 ± 5 years; BMI 39.9 ± 2.9 kg/m(2)). Results: WBV and WBV+S determined a significant GH increase (mean GH peaks 5.1 ± 1.9 ng/ml, p < 0.001 vs. basal, and 6.5 ± 3.7 ng/ml, p < 0.001 vs. basal, respectively), GH peaks occurring immediately after both exercise sessions. No significant differences were observed between GH peaks and GH net incremental area under the curve (nAUC) after both conditions (p = 0.39 and p = 0.53, respectively), the whole pattern of GH responsiveness being comparable among all the subjects. Lactate concentrations increased after both conditions (mean lactate peaks 2.0 ± 0.5 mmol/l, p < 0.05 vs. basal, and 4.5 ± 2.0 mmol/l, p < 0.001 vs. basal, respectively). The lactate response was significantly higher after WBV+S than after WBV (p < 0.05). Baseline GH and GH peak values positively correlated to baseline lactate and lactate peak concentrations in both conditions (R(2) = 0.64, p < 0.001, and R(2) = 0.52, p < 0.05, respectively). Conclusions: WBV alone stimulates GH release and lactate production in severely obese female subjects, with no additive effect when combined with squatting plus external load. Further additional studies are required to verify the chronic effects of WBV exercise on the GH/IGF-1 system, which could represent a potentially effective approach for weight management in obese subjects. Copyright © 2012 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg.