You’re probably familiar with whole body vibration (WBV), but it’s worth reviewing the history and benefits before we start looking at machine specifics. Buckle in for a high-speed overview, and keep an eye out for new facts about this exciting technology.
A Brief History of Vibration
Vibration therapy isn’t new; the idea has been around since ancient Greeks started writing about it in the time of Hippocrates. It made a brief resurgence in 1890s Michigan, when Dr. John H. Kellogg began using vibrating chairs, bars and platforms to treat patients suffering from a variety of ailments.
The history of modern vibration therapy starts in 1960s Germany. Dr. William Biermann began experimenting with cycloid (three-dimensional) vibration for trunk flexion. His published findings caught the eye of Dr. Vladimir Nassarov, who developed vibration therapy through biomechanical stimulation. This was adopted by the Soviet Union for cosmonauts performing space mission. The Soviet Union found the vibration therapy prevented bone and muscle loss during space flights. When the Soviet Union collapsed, vibration spread to the West, and the technology was quickly picked up by The European Space Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—or, as they’re more commonly called, NASA.
Thanks to the sudden availability of vibration platforms, a number of illegitimate spin-offs came to market. These included the infamous vibrating belt of the 1970s, which claimed to “shake the fat off.” It was an outrageous claim, but these machines exploded in popularity. It was nearly a decade before these companies were disproven and sued out of business. During this time, legitimate vibration therapy continued to be used in space programs across the world and subjected to rigorous testing for its effectiveness.
The biggest breakthrough came in 1996, when a German-designed vibration platform came to market. This platform utilized a side-alternating vibration that resembled the human gate; this meant that when the machine was used, it caused greater muscle stimulation, growth and development. This was the grandfather of today’s pivotal vibration units, and the positive clinical trials of this machine lead to the success of whole body vibration worldwide.
Don't think vibration therapy is that popular? Vibration exercise classes have been featured in W Magazine, the Huffington Post and on The Doctors. If that weren't enough, whole body vibration is used by celebrities like Mark Wahlberg, Gwen Stefani and Madonna during their fitness routines.
The Proven Benefits of Whole Body Vibration
Whole body vibration (WBV) offers a host of benefits from regular use. These include:
These benefits are available in just a few minutes a day and can be achieved with low impact exercise, giving vibration training a huge edge over traditional fitness, especially for those that cannot complete standard fitness routines or those with extremely limited times. Vibration training can also be combined with traditional fitness to provide even greater results.
While whole body vibration has benefits for the average individual, WBV has also demonstrated effectiveness as a therapy for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, type-2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and fibromyalgia. We have included a full review of the studies regarding vibration training's positive therapeutic effects on our Supporting Research page; keep in mind that in each study, vibration therapy was used in addition to traditional therapy (not instead of!) for improved patient outcomes.
This section covers the most important features of the vibration platform: vibration type, frequency, amplitude, grip and size. These features will affect your machine's usability and your results, so you'll want to pay close attention to the following when you selecting your machine.
Types of Vibration
Vibration type is the biggest concern when purchasing a vibration training platform; it determines your entire whole body vibration experience! There are five types of vibration commonly used in whole body vibration machines, each with a different type of plate motion.
Pivotal (sometime called "Oscillation") machines have the highest amplitude of the five options. The platforms in this type of equipment moves in a seesaw motion, wherein one side of the vibration plate moves upwards as the opposing side moves downwards, and vice versa. This type of vibration is very similar to the stimulation the body receives from walking or running. Because this type of vibration can achieve greater amplitude, it can allow for greater muscle stimulation (especially at high frequencies).
Because pivotal vibration plates move in the same manner as the body in motion, they gives some of the most powerful sensation. For this same reason, these machines are cosidered the most beneficial for blood flow improvement, because they elicit the strongest response from the circulatory system.
Popular brands offering pivotal vibration machines include Galileo, CrazyFit, VillaPro, Hypervibe, Tzone, and Tectonic.
Linear vibration machines move strictly in an up-and-down motion. These machines are slightly easier to stand on at high frequencies, but can create a slight buzzing sensation in the head that some find unpleasant.
Even though both sound and linear vibration machines both utilize vertical movement, linear vibration training machines are considered the only true vertical movement equipment. These platforms are ideal for muscle relaxation and circulation improvement, but vibrate too slowly to be effective for weight loss or strength training. They may also cause a humming sensation in the head/sinus cavities that some users find unpleasant.
Because they do not offer the more popular weight loss and muscle strengthening frequencies, linear vibration machines are difficult to find. One of the few brands produces linear platforms is GForce.
Triplanar gets its name from the fact that it gives vibration across three planes It moves up and down as well as back and forth, using different motors to allow for higher frequency vibrations (up to 5000rpm).
Because triplanar vibration machines pulsate on three different planes, they are considered the most intense high frequency platform. Many individuals mention feeling the burn in only a short time. For some, this reassures them that the machine is working. For others, it can be discouraging because they feel that they cannot complete as much exercise as desired. Regardless of personal views, triplanar vibration platforms have proven effective for bone density improvement, weight loss and muscle toning.
Popular triplanar vibration machine brands include DKN, BioQuake, Powervibe, Powerplate, and Powervibe.
Dual vibration machines utilize both oscillation and linear vibration to provide a more powerful vibration than either machine individually. Dual vibration platforms can generally be set to work in multiple modes, meaning they can be set to work strictly as oscillation platforms, strictly as linear platforms and to work as a combination, giving you the most variety of motion.
Dual vibration machines are a combination of both the lively pivotal vibration platform and the gentler linear vibration platform, offering the best of both worlds in terms of comfort and functionality.
Popular brands of dual vibration platforms include Vmax, Axis, Euroshine, Triflex, and Tectonic.
This type of movement involves a vibration platform placed atop several powerful speakers, providing an up and down motion similar to that of linear vibration.
Sonic vibration is regarded as the gentlest and most therapeutic vibration machine, but it is also the most expensive of the five types.
Popular brands of sonic vibration include Turbosonic and Theravibe.
The frequencies at which the plate travels will affect the results you see, so speed is an important factor to consider when buying a machine. The velocity of the vibration platform is linked to the movement type; each of the five vibration motions have different speed capacities. It terms of acceleration range, sonic vibration machines have the largest spectrum of variations. The lowest frequency tends to be around 3 Hz and the highest frequency is typically about 50 Hz. The platforms with the highest speeds are those found in dual vibration equipment (those that combine oscillation and triplanar vibrations). The lowest vibration plate oscillations are found in the linear models, with the maximum speeds of averaging 15 Hz. Pivotal vibration machines have frequency ranges up to 40 Hz, while triplanar models perform in the mid-range speeds, with velocity ranging from 30-50 Hz.
You'll want to base your velocity needs on the type of machine you are purchasing and on your desired goals. If you are new to vibration, make sure your machine has a slightly larger spectrum so that you have more low-velocity settings to get used to the machine. If you are primarily using the machine to supplement an athletic training program, you'll want a machine that operates in the 20-40 Hz range shown to be effective in research studies.
But What About The G-force?
While many sites list the "g-force ratings" of their machines, we encourage buyers to avoid using this "fluffy" statistic when making their decision. G-force is a measure of the force exerted on a person by earth's gravity; this means that it is ultimately weight dependent and much more variable than these simple calculations let on. In addition, what a number of g-force pandering brands do not take into account is that a mounting number of research actually suggests that higher g-force exposure is detrimental--NOT beneficial! Be aware of sellers trying to sell you on a higher g-force rating; higher force can be harmful to those using the machines for therapeutic reasons and may be uncomfortable for those using them for fitness.
Convenience features aren't critical to the results you'll see, but they can have a huge effect on how comfortable you are using the machine. You'll want to pay special attention to these features if you have reduced mobility, a specific therapy need, or any other physical or medical concern.
Platform Gripping and Size
Platform grip is a defining characteristic for vibration machines. Each machine has vibration platforms with different ribbing patterns, some which benefit the user more than others. These treads provide comfort and, more importantly, give the user more grip on the platform. This feature allows the user to carry out their exercise routine without worry of falling off or losing balance. Much like vehicle tires, the best grade platform grips are those with intricate ribbed treads because they provide the most control while the machine is vibrating. When deciding which vibration machine to purchase, make sure to examine the ribbing pattern of the plate; those with more vertical, horizontal, or intricate designs will prove to be the most beneficial and long lasting.
The size of the vibration plate is another factor to consider when choosing between machines. In terms of size alone, a larger platform would provide the user with a wider area for their training and therapy, but requires more space for storage and use. If you will be storing it in your home the space used by each machine should be a serious factor in your decision making. Mini-platforms can be a good compromise for smaller spaces, such as studios or lofts, where storage is at a premium. These units can be tucked under a bed or desk when not in use. Larger machines with additional features offer greater therapy benefits, but require more room for use and will likely be visible when not in use.
Now that the topic of size has been introduced, the size of the actual whole body vibration machine also plays an important in selecting which one to buy. The ability to move a machine from one space to another can be a deal breaker for most buyers, so comparing machine sizes for portability is a valid point to consider. There are two main types of vibration machine structures – a larger, framed design with support beams, and a smaller, frameless streamline model. The framed machine can vary in width, dependent on the size of the vibration platform that it supports, so picking between them can prove difficult. One aspect to take into account with this model is whether it contains wheels or not. Those without wheels will contain rubber knobs that make the structure stable and sturdy, however the presence of the wheels allow for easy moving and placement in a various locations. Though these additions make them easier to transport, the frameless streamline models are small enough to physically carry and move; some are even small enough to fit inside a drawer or placed on a shelf. So when it comes down to it, if power is what you prefer, then choose the framed design type, but if size and portability is what you are looking for, then the smaller streamline models are perfect for you.
As you may have noticed on nearly any elliptical or treadmill you may have been on, there is a panel that usually displays one of the following units: time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled, speed, incline or decline level, heart rate, and many other variations. The same types of units can be found across the different vibration machine models. The types of display panels on these vibration units vary in both the machine type, the more powerful framed design or the frameless and portable model, and the price of the actually machine, as the more expensive versions will feature intricate display boards.
The mobile streamline models on average feature a single LED window and several buttons which will allow you to change between different speeds and fitness programs. As the sizes of the machine expand, so does the complexity of the display panels. The larger models, on average, feature a number of newer additions. They contain more LED windows, ones that show BMI calculations, with included fat sensors, as well as more programs and available speeds which are also exhibited in their own individual LED windows. The higher end versions of these models feature a user interface with one LCD screen rather than several LED ones, and also provide the user to view the number of calories burned. If your choice of vibration machine will be largely dependent on the display panel, then you will need to weigh out the number of available characteristics with the cost you are willing to pay.
Each of the characteristics listed above are all encompassed and contribute to what is the most important to any buyer of any product – the cost. The price of these machines are dependent on the features that the machines offer, which include, but are not limited to, the vibration type, comfort level, platform size and condition, capable speeds, portability, and user interface.
The least expensive models, but by far the most transportable one, are the frameless streamline models. The types of movements they provide vary, but most models offer linear or pivotal vibration. They also offer only one LED panel and a few options in its display board. The most expensive vibration machines are the sound/sonic models, which contain either LCD or LED panels, and usually have the most options with regards to programmable modes and vibrations frequencies. The costs of the remaining types of equipment fall between those two models, which vary mainly in terms of vibration type of speeds available; as they are relatively similar when it comes to platform size, portability, and user interface. You may refer to the other articles above to understand and compare which machines offer the best results with regards to how they are used, how fast their plate moves, and the way in which they oscillate.
First choose what features you are looking for, then compare them among the various vibration models, then cross analysis the machines offered with the prices listed for each for them.
Should I Buy or use Equipment at the Gym
As competition and demand increase in the vibration machine industry, the cost of a personal, home-use machine will continue to drop. But why should you buy your own machine when many gyms and personal trainers offer them for a monthly membership fee or the cost of a training session?
Whether you decide to buy your own or use one at the gym is a personal decision that you'll make after considering your workout habits and financial situation. But if you work out regularly, it could make sense to purchase a machine yourself. Consider the cost of the machine compared to the cost of your monthly gym membership.
Working out in the home can be a timesaver for some as well. The machine will be available at all times, so when you feel you can squeeze in a workout, you can do just that. Some personal trainers will even come to your home—just make sure you ask for referrals, conduct an interview, and even perform a background check before you let anybody in your door.
Still, some whole body vibration owners keep the machine at home and continue their regular routine at their local gym or with a personal trainer. Many combine their vibration training with conventional workouts for optimal results.
For those going through therapy for certain conditions, a vibration platform may even be recommended by a doctor or physical therapist. Some may prefer that you come to the office for a quick treatment to make sure that you are following the specified therapy regimen and schedule, while others will recommend purchasing a machine of your own for more convenient home use.
Looked over the buyer's guide and still have questions? Feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help!