How To Characterize Vibration For Whole Body Vibration Machines


Vibration is the driving technology behind whole body vibration machines. In this write-up, I shall try to characterize vibration from the perspective of a whole body vibration machine. In addition, I shall also look into how the vibration machines behave under different conditions with respect to producing vibration.

Amplitude and frequency of vibration

Vibration amplitude is the total movement that the machine will make in any one direction, before it changes its direction to continue with the vibration process. And frequency is the total number of direction changes that the machine will make every minute. So the amplitude and frequency, combined together, determines how intense the vibration is going to be.

A high range of vibration frequency is great, it also important to have a good range of vibration amplitude along with a good frequency range. In many cases, the vibration amplitude factor is not specified by the manufacturers, although the vibration frequency is often mentioned as that is more popularly understood by potential buyers and “regular” (non-savvy) users. You would want to get a machine with good vibration amplitude as well as a high range of vibration frequency, as that gives you the flexibility to improve the exercise quality significantly by selecting the different ranges that you want at different times.

Random vibration versus healthy vibration

It is of utmost significance that the directions of the vibration are well-controlled. The vertical motion (up-and-down) is the motion that will detoxify your body and keep it free from a number of toxic substances. The detoxifying motion needs to be purely vertical in nature. Vertical motion is the best suited to detoxify human bodies. It will also help in releasing lymph. Similarly, the horizontal directions (left-right and front-back) need to be also controlled with high precision. Random and uncontrolled vibration is never good for the body as you won’t be able to regulate the machine to cater the desirable vibration to your body given your physical conditions.

Absorbed power/vibration and friction wastage of machine

As vibration machines age, they develop frictional wastage. This is because a part of the vibration does not happen in the desirable direction. The fraction of the friction that remains usable after the wastage gets translated into actual vibration that benefits the body. It is this actual vibration that gets absorbed by the body and provides the body with the necessary exercises. In fact, as one considers a machine with lower manufacturing quality, one would observe a sharper degrading of the machine with higher wasted friction getting generated. Some machine brands seem to do worse than others on this front.

There is one more hassle associated with development of off-the-angle unusable friction. This friction ends up vibrating the floor beneath. Vibrating the floor beneath is not a good option. Getting a good-quality sound-absorbing carpet/mat is important, if you are going for a machine known for causing relatively higher friction. Otherwise, your family and neighbors living in the same apartment, on the same floor as you, or those living in the floors below yours, will experience significant vibration-related energy loss.

Machine efficiency decay

As the machines age, as it happens with any machinery, they start degrading. The friction generated shoots up north. The efficiency of the power produced starts reducing with more power getting wasted. After 5-7 years of run, the machines that had started their life using 10 amps will start using 12-13 amps often enough. This makes it imperative to use whole body vibration machines having track record of degrading slowly over time, as that will help you use the machine most efficiently for the most prolonged time duration possible.

Effective frequency of vibration

While a frequency rating is assigned to every vibration machine, but there is a catch to that. The frequency benchmarking is done under zero-load condition. That is, while carrying out the benchmarking process, there is no weight kept on the machine platform (read: no person is taking exercise on it and the machine is vibration freely without having to move anyone around). And that’s the specification you would see on the machines. While that may be true that the machine can vibrate with the shown frequency, but it probably does not mean anything to you. The same applies to the vibration amplitude.

The effective vibration frequency (and amplitude, for that matter) of the machine that you care about is the frequency that you experience while you are standing on the machine, that is, when the machine is loaded. A manufacturer or a store will normally never specify this. In absence of the specification of load bearing capacity in addition to frequency, your best bet is to use a machine with a powerful motor, and again, look at track records. At the same breath, you need to be aware that some machines get hot before others after running a bit of time, and then start losing the vibration frequency rapidly. Factor this in also.

How do you plan to use the machine?

Not all body vibration machines are suitable for every person. It depends upon the way you are going to use it. Are you planning to exercise (and hence, jump or move around) while vibrating your body on the machine?

If yes, then you need to take a machine with a powerful motor. This could mean you need a linear vibration plate based device, or for heavier exercises, a tri-planar machine. If no, then you don’t need to choose powerful motors. A regular pivotal vibration machine will be sufficient for your requirements in this case.

Irrespective of the manufacturer, the lower end machines will typically be the ones on which you can take stable exercises, but not jump around too much. Normally, the vibration they produce is pivotal in nature. Note that not each type of vibration is suitable for everyone depending upon their health conditions. So pivotal may be just the right kind of vibration for you, especially if you have had serious injuries in your earlier life. Hence, just because the machine is “lower end”, it does not mean “bad” – it just means “catering functionality that can be offered without being expensive”. On the other hand, if you plan to jump around and take some exercises, then go for one of the linear vibration machine models. Normally, these are the mid-range machines from the manufacturers.

The highest-range machines from the manufacturers are the ones meant for the heaviest of exercise takers. They are often expensive as they are the top-of-the-line (the prices may starkly vary, up to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the brand and quality) machines meant to showcase the best performance that the maker can produce. However, unless you are sure that you need such heavy exercise, don’t let your ego make you opt for these top-end whole body vibration machines. Brilliantly made as these machines often are, using these may have an implication.

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