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Vibration Machine Basics

 

Whole Body Vibration machines have become very popular for the serious athlete as well as the casual user. They are now being used by most professional football, basketball and baseball teams as well as celebrities, men and women of all ages, people recovering from injuries and the disabled.  They are now available for use in your home. This article will discuss the basics of vibration machines: how they work, benefits, types of machines available, features and cost, as well as some other factors you might consider to make an informed decision about the right machine for you.

 

History

Whole-body vibration technology was first developed by scientists in the mid 20th century to reduce bone density loss and muscle atrophy in astronauts exposed to zero-gravity conditions.

Gravity applies a constant load on the skeletal system.  That’s what causes bones to maintain a certain density. Working out on a vibration platform increases this load on the bones helping to increase bone density.

 

How Vibration Machines Work 

Whole body vibration machines consist of a vibration platform powered by a motor. You stand or lay on the platform. The platform vibrates up to 50 times a second sending tiny vibrations through your body. These tiny micro vibrations activate more muscles, burn more calories, improve circulation, and assist muscle recovery.

The vibrating surface forces your body to fight against regular gravity and also to fight against the vibrations.  Studies have shown that working out on a vibrating platform activates up to 138% more muscle fibers, put more of your muscles to work and get better results by harnessing the power of micro vibrations  when compared to a standard workout.

Because you are working out more muscles you are also burning more calories. Studies have shown that completing the exact same workout on a vibrating platform can increase the number of calories burned by as much as 50%. Burning more calories does not have to mean more hours in the gym, it can be as simple as doing your regular workout at home on a vibrating platform.

Tiny vibrations flowing through your body enhance the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to cells and support their function.

Studies have shown that whole body vibration increases skin blood flow which can also decrease the appearance of cellulite. Simply placing your body on a vibrating platform for 5 minutes can immediately help improve circulation throughout your body.

Vibration platforms are also used for faster muscle recovery and pain relief.  By putting the painful area on top of the vibration platform to absorb the tiny vibrations users report feeling instant relief. The soothing vibrations help increase blood flow that in turn helps improve muscle recovery times. Vibration machines are used by athletes and doctors for pain relief and muscle recovery.

Summary of Benefits

  • Burn calories and fat quicker
  • Increase Circulation
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Activate More Muscles
  • Improve Core Strength
  • Increase Overall Strength
  • Increase Bone Density
  • Tighten Skin
  • Speed up Muscle Recovery and Pain Relief

Types of Vibration Machines

The Dual Motion Machine

The dual motion machine consists of 2 motors, each of which controls a certain type of motion. One motor controls the oscillation motion, while the other motor controls either a spiral motion, or a triplanar motion. Dual motion machines have the widest frequency range of all vibration machines and they are more versatile and efficient compared to  single motion machines. Each of the vibration motions can be used alone or simultaneously, producing an even, powerful vibration for the user.

Dual motion machines are the newest type of machine currently in use in the whole body vibration industry. The wider frequency range allows the dual machine to provide a pumping mechanism found in oscillation machines for improving circulation, body detox and lymphatic stimulation.  It also allows the user to develop muscle strength and stronger muscle fibers which can promote bone growth.

The Pivotal (Oscillating) Machine

A pivotal vibration plate vibrates from a center axis in a see-saw like motion. Pivotal vibration is sometimes referred to as oscillation vibration. The frequency (how fast the machine performs 1 cycle of movement) range on a pivotal machine is usually slower than that of triplanar (or linear) vibration but operates at a higher vertical amplitude (the distance the plate moves up and down). Pivotal platforms produce less head vibration, but you may not feel as intense a workout as a triplanar vibration machine because of less muscle contractions per second. Because the amplitude of the machine is so much higher then triplanar, this up and down movement causes a significant pumping action on the body. This significantly improves circulation, and body detoxification.

When considering a pivotal vibration machine, you should make sure the platform has a full range of frequencies. Some machines only reach frequencies below 20Hz. You should also confirm the machine can give you a frequency reading, and that it's accurate.

Both pivotal and triplanar machines can help achieve the benefits of whole body vibration described above.. There is a fairly big difference between these two vibration types and it essentially comes down to comfort level and what you want to accomplish.

The Triplanar Machine

The triplanar vibrating platform moves vertically up and down as well as horizontally. You can think of it as moving in a circular fashion while moving up and down ever so subtly. It is commonly referred to as “spiral vibration” because of the way the platform moves, although there is a difference in how the motor drives the triplanar or spiral motion. These systems offer a fairly wide frequency range with a lower amplitude ranging from 2-4 mm.

Higher frequencies tire your muscles faster because of the faster muscle contractions and relaxations, and therefore, you may feel your muscles getting extremely tight after just 1 to 2 minutes of this harder workout. As a consequence, triplanar vibration is more efficient compared to pivotal vibration  in building muscle strength, and ultimately, improving bone health. Triplanar vibration machines tend to be more expensive than pivotal machines because it is a newer technology and usually features higher weight capacity, more features and functions.

Lineal Vibration

Lineal or vertical vibration platforms remain horizontal with the entire platform moving up and down by the same amount. True linear platforms tend to be lower in amplitude and frequency than oscillation vibration. Typically, the amplitude for these machines are between 3 to 10 mm with a frequency range from 3 Hz to 10 or 15 Hz. Because of the true up and down motion, the vibration from lineal machines can give the user irregular heart rhythms or irregular breathing. True linear machines are becoming obsolete as they are being replaced by triplanar vibration.

The user should not stand with knees locked when on a lineal machine. They can also cause migraine headaches. These types of machines are not the best to buy and the technology is almost obsolete.

Sonic Vibration

Sonic vibration employs a speaker system with magnetic circuits, rather than vibrating spin motors found in lineal, pivotal, or triplanar machines. Similar to triplanar machines but able to operate at a much lower frequency, sonic vibration is capable of delivering a wider frequency range, typically 3 to 50 Hz and the platform movement is only vertical with amplitudes from 0 to 10 mm. Because of their highly customized potential, the learning curve for sonic machines is significantly longer. There is a possibility of injury if you set a sonic vibration machine at a setting that is too much to handle.

With a sonic machine, the only audible noise is a “humming” sound generated by the speaker assembly to power the sonic platform with sound waves that induce the vibration. These systems provide a natural feeling and smoother exercise. However, they are expensive, ranging in price from $13,000 to $16,000.

Features:

1 Front mounted column (pole) with handlebars:

Some machines come with a column (pole) and handlebars to give you something to hold on to. Others don’t. If you can balance  on one foot or have a firm stance and have no problems balancing you probably don’t need a pole with handlebars.  You might prefer a pole and handlebars if you had a recent injury and you’re rehabbing.  Be aware that the pole itself may interfere with the types of exercises t you can perform on the platform, particularly if you are considering using free weights.

Machines with poled designs are generally bigger, bulkier and heavier then pole-less machines.  Pole-less machines tend to be smaller and can be stored in smaller spaces like a closet or under the bed. However, pole-less machines are also fine-tuned and offer full benefits of whole body vibration training. A pole-less machine allows maximum freedom to do exercises without having a front pole to interfere.

2. Controls

Some vibration machines with poles offer 2 control panels: the main one located at the top, and a smaller, second control when you are performing exercises while bending down, or on your hands or knees. Most pole-less machines include a remote control to allow for maximum freedom and flexibility. 

3. Platform size

Some machines offer a relatively small platform size to stand or lay on.  The platform size can limit the exercises you are able to perform. If too small it can severely limit your ability to move.  Choose a machine with a platform that fits your physical size. You should be able to stand shoulder width apart with 5 inches of platform to spare from the edge. Keep in mind that once you become comfortable and start seeing results you may want to experiment with different exercises.

For example, you may want to do wide stance squats as well as regular squats.  You may want to add a pelvic bridge or or maybe a shoulder press which requires you to lean forward.  With a smaller platform or a front mounted pole you may have trouble performing these workouts.

For pivotal platforms, the bigger the platform size, the higher the vertical amplitude because the ends of the platform will be higher.

4 How powerful should my machine be?

Check the motor rating for weight capacity. The more powerful or highly rated the motor is, the greater the weight capacity it can effectively move.  The weight capacity is the maximum rated weight a particular machine can support. 

Using an under-powered machine will prevent the machine from producing the correct frequency, amplitude, and gravitational force if the user exceeds the weight capacity rating for the machine.  However using an over-powered machine does not mean the machine will produce an excess of frequency, amplitude, and  gravitational force.  It is simply easier for the machine to lift the user.  If several people will be sharing the machine then select a machine with a motor capable of lifting the heaviest user.

5 Cost

The internal workings of a quality vibration machine are fine-tuned to deliver the proper range of frequencies, vertical amplitude, and gravitational force.  High quality components are expensive. Beware of extremely cheap machines (several hundred dollars). Quality machines will run $1000+ depending on size and features. Check online for tester reviews, compare brands. This is a significant investment in your health. You get what you pay for.

6 Warranty

Check and compare warranty terms on parts, electronics and labor.

Conclusion:

Whole body vibration machines are becoming popular additions to the home gym. They are widely used by professional sports teams because they are effective. They provide a wide variety of benefits including burning calories and fat quicker, increased circulation and flexibility, joint pain relief, and building overall strength. They come with a variety of motors, functions, platform sizes, and features. Shop around. Pick the one best suited to your size and workout goals. This will prove to be one of the best additions to your home gym.