The Most Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Vibration Machine

08th July 2013 by Dewald


Are you confused about which features and functions of a vibration platforms are most important? If so, read on, because in this article we’ll separate the nuts and bolts of Whole Body Vibration from the bells and whistles found on some machines, and reveal exactly what you need to consider when deciding which one to buy.

Prioritise vibration platforms characteristics over everything else
Most people who buy Whole Body Vibration machines do so with the intention of improving some aspect of their health.

If that’s your objective too, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the health benefits of Whole Body Vibration occur as a result of the vibration transmitted from the platform to your body and how your body responds to those vibrations. Consequently, your first consideration when considering a vibration machine is whether it’s capable of vibrating in a way that produces health benefits.

Everything over and above that (for example how it looks and sounds) is just window dressing: if its vibration characteristics are inadequate, then a machine is not going to deliver the health benefits you’re looking for.

Acceleration and frequency are the keys to effective vibration
Most of the benefits of vibration exercise are produced by the effect of increased gravitational loading (which is achieved by the platform lifting you up) and the stimulation of a stretch reflex (which occurs when the platform falls from beneath you and you drop down to land on it).

In summary, the two critical factors to consider are how fast the platform accelerates as it lifts you up, and how frequently it vibrates.

The acceleration of the platform as it lifts you up influences the amount of energy you burn and the level of exertion involved, and consequently plays a major role in dictating the muscular changes that occur as a result of using it.

The importance of acceleration rate can’t be stressed enough, and this should always be the first criteria you consider when deciding which Whole Body Vibration machine to purchase.

Independent testing of 41 Whole Body Vibration machines on the market in Australia and North America reveals that the ones supported by scientific research are capable of producing more than 10 g. Previous studies have shown elderly subjects effectively using g force values of up to 10g’s (1), untrained middle aged subjects effectively using g force values of up to 16g’s (2), and trained athletes up to 20g’s (3).

While some of our competitors’ products are incapable of delivering that much acceleration, our Hypervibe Performance machine is capable of up to 17 g, nearly double that of its nearest (and much more expensive) competitor.

For optimal results, that acceleration is best delivered at a frequency of 20-45 Hz. If a platform is not capable of producing sufficient g force whist operating within that frequency range, the number of health benefits supported by research is significantly reduced.

Independent tests reveal that while our Hypervibe Performance machine operates at a frequency range of 6-28 Hz, few of our competitors’ machines have that capacity (regardless of what their promotional material says).

So, when shopping around, make sure you ask to see evidence of the specifications advertised before deciding to buy any particular machine. You can also use our Buyer’s Guide to check how 41 of the most popular Whole Body Vibration machines on the market stand up to testing.

Vibration type: pivotal or lineal?
Despite various manufacturers using a baffling array of terms to describe the actions of their vibration platforms, there are only two types: pivotal and lineal

On a pivotal vibration machine, the left and right sides of the platform you stand on alternate up and down around a central pivot point, as though you were standing on a seesaw. On the other hand, a lineal platform remains horizontal, and the entire platform moves up and down.

 

 

To a certain extent, choosing between a pivotal platform and a lineal one is a question of personal preference. However, at Hypervibe we’ve chosen to work exclusively with pivotal platforms because they have more proven health benefits . Furthermore, they create more g-force at optimal frequencies to initiate the stretch reflex, and research indicates that they minimise the amount of vibration experienced in the head (which some users find uncomfortable when standing on a lineal platform).

Other considerations
In our opinion, after the vibration characteristics, the next most important factor to consider when purchasing a Whole Body Vibration machine is its warranty. As any engineer will tell you, vibration is usually the enemy of machinery, and can cause havoc with both electronics and moving parts, so we advise you to ensure that your investment is backed by a solid warranty.

However, many vibration machines do have additional characteristics that can sound tempting. Don’t let those features entice you to buy a Whole Body Vibration platform that has sub-optimal acceleration and frequency, because without optimal vibration,.the health benefits it can offer are few if not zero. In fact, some of them may even work against what you’re trying to achieve.

Among others, some of the most important factors to avoid getting sidetracked by include:

Size, weight, noise and power consumption: Choosing a whole body vibration platform based on it being smaller, quieter, or using less power than others is likely to be counter-productive. In order to give you a workout that challenges your muscles, a vibration machine needs to release a large amount of mechanical energy, which is transferred to your muscles. With that comes energy in the form of heat, sound and mechanical vibration of the floor. However, it’s the biggest, loudest, heaviest and most energy-consuming vibration machines that are most likely to provide the best workout.

Motor size: There are too many factors involved in the engineering of a Whole Body Vibration platform to allow motor size to be an accurate predictor of performance or longevity, so don’t get hung up on an individual machine’s motor size. Instead, check the vibration specs and the manufacturer’s warranty.

Platform size: A large platform size may enable a few more exercise positions when compared to a medium sized platform. That’s a bonus if and only if the machine can still produce enough acceleration at the larger platform size. The bigger and heavier the platform, the harder the machine has to work, and consequently, an increased platform size may actually come at the expense of performance. So first establish which machines can produce the kind of vibration that produces health benefits and then pick the one with the platform size you prefer.

Aesthetics and user interface: It’s much easier for a manufacturer to create a vibration machine that looks nice and is easy to use than it is to engineer one capable of producing high acceleration rates at optimal frequency, but don’t let fancy design elements distract you from your core objective of choosing a machine that benefits your health.

Cost: Unfortunately, you can’t totally rely on cost to help you determine which Whole Body Vibration machine to purchase either, because whilst cost may give some indication of a machine’s capabilities, it’s not foolproof. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon to find highly priced machines that perform relatively poorly. Having said that, to the best of our knowledge there are currently no machines capable of producing both 10 g of acceleration and a frequency of 20-45 Hz that are priced at less than $2000. In effect that means that machines that are cheaper than that are unlikely to give you much of a work out.

Summary
The most important aspects of a vibration platform are the speed at which it accelerates (ideally at least 10 g) and the frequency with which it vibrates (ideally 20-45 Hz). If the machine you’re considering doesn’t meet those specifications, then it probably won’t offer you the health benefits you’re looking for, or represent good value for money. Finally, remember the check the warranty. To deliver more than 10G with frequencies between 20 and 45Hz is something that few machines can achieve. A good warranty is a sign that the manufacturer is confident the machine can handle the high forces required to produce that level of stimulus.

References:

(1) Rees SS, Murphy AJ, Watsford ML: Effects of whole-body vibration exercise on lower-extremity muscle strength and power in an older population: a randomized clinical trial. Phys Ther 2008, 88(4):462-470.

(2) Spiliopoulou, SI, Amiridis, IG, Tsigganos, G, Economides, D, Kellis, E (2010). “Vibration effects on static balance and strength”. International journal of sports medicine 31 (9): 610–6.

(3) Hand J, Verscheuren S, Osternig L. A comparison of whole-body vibration and resistance training on total work in the rotator cuff. J Athl Train.

 

hypervibe machine

If you liked our first series article, you must read: The Convincing Case For Higher G’s.

The reason for controversy over the importance of high G’s in vibration training is really a matter of economics–not science. Most commercially available machines are not capable of high G’s. article 2 case for higher gs

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