Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is the use of mechanically generated vibrations that are transmitted to the body through a vibration plate at set frequencies or repetitions per second. This stimulus causes involuntary muscle contractions. The muscles react to the vibration by contracting and relaxing automatically. Depending on the setting of the machines vibration rate, these contractions can be long and pronounced, or shorter with recovery times between.
This rapid involuntary reflex reaction intensifies even the simplest exercise. The fast repetition of your muscles reacting along with the controlled, low impact to the bones improves bone density and muscle strength.
Many studies have compared whole body vibration to standard resistance training, this type of training is popular in most fitness/physical centers. Consider that resistance training tends to work 30-50% of the targeted muscles, whole body vibration encompasses all of the muscles engaged in supporting the particular pose being done. Used as a stand-alone exercise, or to complement your existing regimen, whole body vibration can increase your training results and help achieve your goals in a fraction of the time. Since whole body vibration does not put the body through the physical stress of traditional exercise routines, people with debilitating conditions can use this method of training/exercise this helps improve their overall fitness and potentially improves their quality of life.
Whole Body Vibration is now used in therapy and physical therapy centers. They are able to achieve major benefits such as: Increased Blood flow, able to strengthen muscles in a shorter amount of time, to improve joint flexibility and increased range of motion, to improve balance and help build bone density. Many chiropractic centers are also employing whole body vibration in their practices.
Whole Body Vibration Machine Factors
There are three factors to consider when choosing your whole body vibration machine and routine.
Frequency – The Frequency of vibration is a measure of how many times the platform moves up and down each second.
Amplitude – Amplitude is a measure of how high the platform moves above its horizontal resting place. The total distance a platform moves up and down is called its peak-to-peak Amplitude or its Displacement.
Gforce(Gravity) – This is a very hard one to explain but is one of the most important of the three. I pulled this explanation from one of the websites explaining this data because of the good use of an example. The upward movement of the platform causes the body to accelerate upwards. Imagine the example of standing in an elevator. If an elevator was to move downwards at high speed it would make a person feel light, almost like floating. If however it suddenly slowed to a stop and immediately moved upwards again with rapidly increasing speed it would feel like the body just became a lot heavier and a person would have to push down with their legs to keep themselves upright.
Because of this additional gravitational load, the muscles have to work harder to keep a person upright. When a whole body vibration machine can generate a high degree of G-force using frequencies close to 30Hz you get the additional effect of stretch reflex muscle activation resulting in your muscles working hard without you actually having to try; the machine is doing the work for you.
Whole Body Vibration Machine Types
There are two types of vibration machines. Each has its own uses and customer audience. Both are valid platforms of exercise.
Lineal/Vertical vibration platform remains horizontal at all times with the entire platform moving up and down by the same amount. People with really bad backs and necks or people that are prone to headaches should be cautious when trying this type of whole body vibration machine.
Oscillating/Pivotal vibration machines, the platform you stand on tilts around a central pivot point like a see-saw. The left and right sides alternate up and down while the center remains fixed. The alternating tilting of the pelvis in pivotal/orbital vibration is the same natural movement that occurs when walking.
As with any exercise program talk with your doctor on what you can and cannot do. If you have any of the listed conditions below, one should specifically get your doctors approval prior to starting whole body vibration exercise routine.
Known neurological conditions
Pre-existing deep vein thrombosis
Pacemaker & Implantable Cardioverter Defribrillators
Known retinal conditions
Recently placed IUD’s, metal pins, or plates.
Recently recovering from an operation or surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement.
Make sure the machine that one is using or purchasing is delivering the stated specifications. It can be disappointing to find one spent money on a machine and did not get the performance needed to achieve all ones goals. Let alone feel lied to or cheated. We will be reviewing some of the machines in this area and will look at the small (wellness), medium(training and fitness) and large (training and fitness) purposed machines of each type lineal/vertical and oscillating/pivotal.
Whole body vibration is close but not the full replacement of an entire exercise routine but depending on an individual’s goals and lifestyle could be combined with some sort of cardio plan but WBV sure makes the entire exercise routine more fun, takes less time and a lot less painful. Whole body vibration is real, it is safe, it is a valid platform for healthy exercise. A full hour worth of exercise in 10 minutes completed three times a week, that’s it.
Now we move on to future articles to be posted on the Whole Body Vibration machines we have chosen to review.