Whole body vibration (WBV) is actually a fitness concept whereby a user stands on a vibrating platform to perform various exercises. The platform vibrates at variable frequencies which cause the users muscles to contract and retract. Various studies have shown benefits for fatloss, pain relief, increased balance and muscle activation. In fact a study done a few years back showed that standing on a WBV machine can be as effective for the user’s muscles as the same amount of time on a stationary bicycle. Click here to view the study.
There are two basic types of vibration machines Pivotal and Vertical. There are many descriptors like spiral, 3D, Elliptical, sonic etc for vibration machines. In all reality those terms are marketing terms created by the manufacturer to make themselves seem special. There are two realistic movements that define the actual motions of vibration paltforms:
VERTICAL OR PIVOTAL. Both are explained in detail below. If you are more of a visual learner I suggest you look at this animation of both types of machines. Make sure to hit the back butoon on your browser after viewing it so that you can continue reading this article. Click here to view the animation
VERTICAL: A platform that uniformly moves UP and DOWN at a ahigh frequency and elevates your body the same distance no matter where you place your feet is know as VERTICAL VIBRATION.
Current Popular brands available in the United States in this category include:
PIVOTAL: A platform that oscillates from SIDE to SIDE like a see-saw and displaces your body based on where you place your feet is known as PIVOTAL VIBRATION.
Current popular brands available in the United States in this category include:
Just like cars, vibration machine prices vary based on brand name, build quality and features. A $12,000 Powerplate Pro 5 Air Adaptive for instance is a massive vertical vibration machine. It is built to withstand commercial abuse in a gym by hundreds of users, has adjsutable platform heights, multiple programable settings, a commercial warranty and carries a well known brand name. Versus say a $1,000 Nitrofit Personal which is a pivotal vibration unit designed to take up very little space in your home or office. This machine is much more affordable because it is built for use by just a few users, has a home warranty ,limited programability and is known to be a value based brand.
THE MODERN EVOLUTION OF VIBRATION TECHNOLOGY:
The popularity and growth of the vibration machine industry is staggering. Five years ago you may not have seen a vibration machine anywhere because they were usually only used by professional athletes in team owned gyms. As the popularity of these machines increased, competing vibration companies entered the market and forced prices down. Now you will see whole body vibration available at high end gyms, Chiropractic offices, Physical Therapy centers and day spas. The technology quickly found its way into the consumer market and is now available for home users through various speacialty fitness stores and online dealers. Just get on Walmart.com or Sears.com and see what comes up. Its amazing how many choices you now have. The industry grew so fast because these technologies do offer benefits. They may not be as drastic as some of the manufactureres claim but they are still benefits.
CUTTING THROUGH THE CLUTTER: THE ACTUAL BENEFITS
Here is where it gets a bit tricky though. There are a lot of claims being made from independent online companies and big name retailers about these vibration machines. I personally have run into so many conflicting opinions and deceptive marketing tactics while researching vibration machines for home use alone. Some of the claims are true while other claims seem to be exagerated. Since these claims are not regulated by the FDA, the manufacturers and thier sales representatives have been known to push concepts that are not completely accurate. If you come across a company or representative that is making claims about these machines that seems too good to be true, walk away. YOU WILL NOT GET AN HOURS WORTH OF EXERCISE ON A VIBRATION MACHINE BY JUST STANDING ON IT FOR 10 MINUTES!. YOU HAVE TO PERFORM A VARIETY OF EXERCISE ON THESE MACHINES TO GET MOST OF THE BENEFITS. IF YOU DO AN ADVANCED WORKOUT THAT INVOLVES A VARIETY OF STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES ON A VIBRATION PLATFORM, THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL YOU GET A SOLID WORKOUT IN 10 MINUTES. VIBRATION MACHINES DO NOT REPLACE CARDIO VASCULAR EXERCISE. YOU STILL NEED TO WALK, RUN, BIKE, SWIM ETC.
THE REAL BENEFITS:
Can you lose weight from using a vibration machine? Yes but results will vary based on your body type and activity levels. If you do not currently do any form of exercise then you will most likely benefit greatly from any type of vibration training becasue you are using your muscles. Using muscles burns calories and speeds up your metabolism. These weightloss results would not be as drastic for athletes whose muscles are conditioned for rigorous abuse. An athletes body has adapted to most exercise routines therefore they would need to push themselves a lot harder to see great results on a vibration machine. Vibration training accelerates and intensifies existing exercises. Those of you who plan to just stand on the machine and not do any exercises should expect more therepuedic results than anything else. Let me break down the actual benefits for you by splitting vibration machine use into two categories: TRAINING & THERAPY.
VIBRATION TRAINING: The act of performing exercises on a vibrating platform with goals of advancing ones physical condition or athletic abilities. These activities vary from platform type to platform type. On vertical machines the motions are more active. Exercises may require you to jump on and off the paltform or do push ups. On pivotal platforms, the actions are more static. This means that you hold positions such as squats and half push ups etc. and let the motion from the machine do most of the work for you.
The Benefits I have witnessed from vibration training on both types of machines include:
VIBRATION THERAPY: The act of using a vibration machine to alleviate pain, strengthen damaged muscle tissue, train balance, improve flexibility and range of motion. Again they vary based on the type of machine you are using. Vertical machines have higher vibration frequencies and seem to stimulate blood flow immediately. Since the platform moves uniformly with much less amplitude, these machines are better suited for upper body rehab. For example if a user wanted to lay their arm horizontally over a vertical platform, they could do it comfortably. Where as a pivotal platform would rock back and forth flopping the users arm around uncomfortably. On the flip side though standing on a vertical platform can be jarring becasue it sends vibration to the face and head so rapidly. Pivtoal platforms have thier unique applications also. The lateral motions of pivotal platforms force the users hips up and down rapidly in an alternating fashion. The user’s natural response is core activation and lower lumbar stimulation. Users with chronic lumbar issues would probably benefit from the pivotal motion.
The Benefits I have witnessed from vibration therapy include:
So now the question becomes which machine do I want and why? Each manufacturer claims that their machines are more effective. They bad mouth other manufacturers and make off the wall claims about certain technologies being harmful or inneffective. Don’t buy the hype. Both types of machines are effective. The best way to figure out which machine will suit your needs is to go to a store near you and try them both. Call the store well in advnace and ask if they have both a pivotal model and a vertical model on their floor. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT PIVOTAL AND VERTICAL MODELS FEEL COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ON YOUR BODY. DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE AND EXPLAIN THAT THEY ARE THE SAME. THEY MAY BOTH BE CLASSIFIED AS WHOLE BODY VIBRATION MACHINES YET THEY OFFER VERY DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND PREFFERENCE
I am not here to plug any one company or vibration type rather just explain my experience and justify why I bought what I bought. Like I said before shop around and try a few machines from both categories. Like any other purchase see what feels right to you and what fits within your budget.
Lets just start with my experience three years ago. When I first heard about these machines, I thought “ya right”. My skepticism quickly faded when I was introduced to a pivotal platform called Noblerex. It was available for $3,000 at a little weightloss clinic nearby. As a fitness buff I have tried nearly every exercise machine under the sun. I am open minded though and figured why not try it out. I cranked the machine up to full speed and went through a few exercises. Note: Now knowing more about vibration I don’t reccomend cranking up a machine your first time using it. Please gradually increase your speed and see how your body adapts.
Anyways, within the first ten seconds my back and abs began contracting. As soon as I bent my knees, the vibration transferred directly into my quadriceps and hamstrings. I was a bit sore in my core which has always been a trouble area for me and was intruiged by this technology. I wasn’t quite ready to buy a machine without looking into it further. Like everything else I buy, I look around and do research before making descisions. Lets just say I have had my fair share of buyers remorse in the past. I began shopping around for machines and researching the market as much as I could. For about a year I travelled around to differen’t fitness stores in my free time. I was able to try a bunch of machines in Arizona and California where I spend most of my time.
I did work outs on the WAVE Air Reflex, Powerplate My 3 and My 5, DKN XG 3.0 and XG 5.0, Powervibe Zen Pro, Nitrofit Personal and Deluxe models. I was looking specifically for a home model and I was on a budget of $2,000. The WAVE I tried was a $9,000 commercial model and was way more than I needed. I didn’t want to spend any more than $2,000 on a machine and I wanted it to be the best bang for my buck yet be reliable and effective. I found the Powerplate my 3 to be a little too jarring and not have enough adjustability plus it was $500 over my price limit. The My 5 was a great machine but at $4,500 it was more than twice as much as I was willing to spend. The DKN machines didn’t feel as powerful as the Powerplate machines but had a really stable feel to them and had little digital coaches built into the user screen. Again they were both still out of my price range and I didn’t really like the feel of the vertical vibration in my face. The Powervibe Zen pro felt identical to the DKN and had the exact same features. Come to think of it other than different handlebars, the Zen Pro and DKN machines even looked identical. Still at $2,500 it was over my budget. The last machines I tried were the Nitrofit one’s. Maybe I was already biased becasue I tried the noblerex machine first and liked the the way I could feel the pivotal motion in my core and not as much in my face. For the money the Nitrofits were my top pick. The Personal model was great for $1,000 but being a larger more muscular male, I felt a little confined by the smaller platform size. The Deluxe model felt just like the Noblerex model, was a bit larger, had more features and at $2,000 $1,000 less than the Noblerex machine. Plus, I was able to buy it from an actual fitness store rather than just a web dealer. I felt a bit more comfortable knowing that the store could order replacement parts if I needed them and help me service it. So I bought it and have been using it ever since.
WHAT I FEEL ABOUT THE MACHINE NOW
The funny thing about buying what you think is a unique item is that you begin to see things just like it all over the place. I went to a womans show with my wife and saw a few differnt vibration machine companies selling virtually the same exact machines as each other. The prices were up to $500 less than I paid for my Nitrofit. This really got me wondering if I overpaid for my machine. After stepping foot on a few different models at the show, I noticed the feel wasn’t quite as smooth as mine and the construction of these machines was much more plasticy. With that said I feel like I got my moneys worth. I have had the machine now for just over two years and still use it regulary. I mostly use it for warm ups before going to the gym and do advanced 10-15 minute workout on the days that I can’t make it to the gym. To date I have not had any problems with my machine which is now out of its warranty period. I will keep you all posted on any repairs in the future. What I love most about using my machine is jumping on a it for a few minutes in the morning for flexibility and bloodflow. Lastly, when I get the occasional sore back, I jump on my machine and within minutes it feels much better.
Note: For those of you looking for product reviews and comparisons, this blog is my personal opinion of a few products. If you want a more comprehensive review of machines, check out vibration machine reviews.com. They appear to be pretty unbiased and do a good job covering most of the reputable brands out there. Click here to view that site .
Due to the popularity of this blog, we have posted a DO WHOLE BODY VIBRATION MACHINES ACTUALLY WORK - PART 2 where we go into more detail of how these machines work, and offer you a few buying tips and product reviews. Click here to read this updated page http://howigetfit.com/2010/05/28/do-whole-body-vibration-machines-actually-work-continued/
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