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Are you looking for an exercise program that promotes circulation, muscle tone, increased stamina, and relaxation?
Proponents of whole body vibration (WBV) say this alternative exercise regimen provides just that.
In Asia, Europe, and the U.S., WBV therapy enjoys growing popularity.
In fact, some commercial gyms and rehabilitation centers invest thousands of dollars in pro-grade vibration platform machines.
These machines provide the pivotal or lineal energy needed for the therapy.
But you needn’t join a commercial gym to reap the benefits of WBV therapy.
Consumer-friendly models exist, and we’ve identified the top machines on the commercial market.
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If you’re ready to purchase a vibration platform machine for the purpose of WBV therapy, please see the product matrix, above, for our top endorsements.
If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating technology, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Dr. Tamer emphasizes prevention as the most effective way to minimize health issues (cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, etc.) and maximize long-term health. Warm and knowledgeable, he is committed to forming comfortable bonds with his patients by which they can work together to set priorities and manage ongoing health concerns. Tamer earned his MD from the University of Connecticut and completed his internal medicine residency at Yale University.
WBV therapy originated in the late 19th century when alternative health pioneer Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and others like him devised passive exercise equipment for health spa clients.
These pieces of equipment generated high-intensity vibrations either via an electric motor or a steam-powered engine. Patients received the vibration therapy using a special belt or platform. The vibrations were thought to improve digestion, blood flow, and brain function.
Back then, vibration therapy was often combined with extreme dieting and fad medical treatments to achieve “miraculous” results at exclusive spas.
Gyms also offered a form of passive exercise using vibration technology — users strapped on a wide belt to receive powerful vibrations to their backs and abdomens from a special machine. The overall effectiveness of this passive weight-loss method was questionable at best.
During the 1940s and 1950s, some retail stores kept coin-operated whole body vibration machines in their lobbies for weary customers to receive a few minutes of relief as the machine massaged their legs.
While the alternative health spa craze may have fallen out of favor, different forms of vibration therapy have not.
Many people today have experienced body vibration therapy, even if they don't recognize it as such. For example, anyone who has enjoyed 15 minutes in a massage chair or a session with a foot bath massager has experienced vibration therapy.
While these devices may not be the same as a dedicated vibration platform machine, they do deliver a beneficial form of whole body vibration therapy.
The vibration platform machines on our shortlist simply take this beneficial therapy a step further.
Some people see vibration therapy as a passive form of exercise. In truth, the muscles engage extensively during a short WBV session.
While whole body vibration therapy is still a largely “unproven” practice, plenty of satisfied practitioners claim at least temporary benefits.
Because WBV therapy interacts with muscle tissue, it may also stimulate specialized cells within the tissue called osteoblasts. These cells contribute to the regrowth of bone, which is why American and Russian space programs both use a form of WBV therapy to compensate for the bone loss astronauts experience in low-gravity environments. In that same vein, many home users claim to find relief from arthritis symptoms after a session on a vibration platform machine.
Other potential benefits of WBV therapy, though not medically proven, include:
Improved blood circulation
Lymph system detoxification
Although few scientific studies exist to support these health claims, some medical professionals see very little risk in pursuing alternative therapies like WBV.
Fragile diabetics are discouraged from engaging in WBV therapy, but mild diabetics who try the therapy report temporary relief from painful neuropathy in their feet and legs.
It is important for vibration platform machine users to understand the difference between vibration therapy and vibration training.
Vibration therapy is a passive treatment in which the machine or device does most of the work. Standing still on a vibration platform machine, sitting in a vibrating massage chair, and using a massage wand are all forms of vibration therapy. The benefits come primarily from the stimulation of nerves, muscle tissue, and blood vessels.
However, if the user assumes a stressful position, such as a deep squat or knee bend, the session becomes vibration training. Athletes use vibration training to improve muscle strength or flexibility. In fact, vibration training machines are more likely to be found in a gym than a private home. They produce powerful up-and-down vibrations that force the muscles to contract and relax repeatedly.
WBV therapy stresses short, intense sessions that rarely last more than a minute or two. Because vibration platform machines can be used for both health and exercise purposes, you may find a machine with additional features — handheld exercise bands, monitoring devices, and so on — to be particularly valuable.
Here’s a look at what the machines on our shortlist offer in terms of features:
We give additional props to models featuring dual-motor technology. This technology allows users to choose between pivotal motion, lineal motion, or a combination of both.
Satisfied owners tell us that the GForce Power Vibe packs nearly as much punch as a professional gym model. It features dual motors: one for lineal vibration and another for pivotal vibration. Users can elect to perform both motions at the same time. Unlike some other vibration platform machines, however, the lineal motion is back-and-forth, not up-and-down. The therapeutic benefits are still the same, though.
Some WBV exercises require a side-to-side or pivotal motion; others require an up-and-down or lineal motion. Some machines provide back-and-forth or lateral motion to enhance the pivotal and/or lineal effects.
The GForce offers 60 speed settings, all of which are controlled by a single dial.
We love the product’s easy-to-read LCD display, and we give it extra points for its ability to handle higher vibration speeds without increased noise.
We like the manual and preprogrammed exercise routine options, too. Users can select automatic programs that provide both pivotal and lineal vibrations at various speeds and durations. This creates a form of muscle “confusion” that benefits users, according to WBV proponents.
Owners agree that the GForce Power Vibe designers truly understand the requirements of a gym-quality machine.
Ease of Use
The generous dimensions of the GForce platform (27.25” x 20”) provide users of all sizes a sense of security during use. Curved support handles allow various handholds during exercise routines. This is helpful, as some WBV regimens require users to assume different positions for each one-minute set, from standing to deep squats to push ups.
Assembly of the GForce Power Vibe can pose a challenge, but thankfully, the manufacturer provides an easy-to-follow DVD with instructions that guide the process.
The unit also arrives with special resistance bands that you can attach to the hand grips.
The GForce Power Vibe is a heavy-duty machine. If you have the dedicated floor space, it could be perfect for you. But potential buyers should realize it’s not designed for portability.
The Confidence Fitness platform’s 1.5-hp motor provides substantial pivotal vibration to the plate during use, and the user can choose from 50 speed settings. The gradations are subtle but noticeable, especially in the higher settings.
We give props to this model for its centrally located, easy-to-read display unit. Here, the user can track his/her speed and other vital information such as pulse rate, elapsed time, and BMI (body mass index).
One feature we find particularly useful is the automatic shut-off after ten minutes of operation. This protects the motor from burning out and also discourages users from overworking their muscles or getting too dehydrated.
The Confidence Fitness Slim does not have lineal vibration capability, which may prevent users from performing certain exercises. However, satisfied owners say they benefit significantly from the pivotal vibration exercises alone.
Most WBV exercises are intended to last only a minute or so. Ten minutes of exercise on a vibration platform machine is said to be the equivalent of 60 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical machine.
Ease of Use
The Confidence Fitness Slim's overall base dimensions are a generous 27” x 27”, but the vibration plate itself is raised and a little smaller. Some exercisers may need to use the support arms while mounting or dismounting; these arms also provide much-needed stability during intense workouts.
The Confidence machine comes with a complete manual that provides detailed instructions on various exercise routines and some background on the benefits of WBV therapy in general.
This machine’s 330-pound weight capacity in another fantastic feature.
The Confidence Fitness Slim includes yoga resistance straps to enhance the WBV experience. The straps encourage participants to maintain stretch positions as the machine vibrates. We wouldn't call them true resistance bands, but they do help the user achieve better form while exercising.
The Confidence Fitness Slim provides exceptional support as well as portability, which can sometimes be a tradeoff with other models.
The Tripact Whole Body Vibration Machine’s 200-watt motor produces a substantial level of pivotal vibration. One owner describes this compact model as a "foot massager for your entire body," and we agree. However, potential buyers should know that it’s best for casual use, not intense WBV workouts.
There are no support bars, so user stability is always going to be an issue. We do appreciate the fact that the model offers three pre-programmed settings with varied workouts for different personal goals. Some settings are said to promote lymph system drainage; others target stress or cellulite.
But the Whole Body Vibration Machine's best additional feature is, by far, its remote control system. Users can remove the remote control from the unit's base and allow themselves to become completely stabilized before switching on the motor.
While the Tripact Whole Body Vibration Machine’s lack of handrails may seem like a drawback to some, this absence does allow owners to incorporate the unit into calisthenics and step aerobics.
Ease of Use
This unit looks small compared to other vibration platform machines, and indeed, it only weighs 45 pounds. But it’s definitely not a toy. Its portability makes it a great candidate for office or hotel room use, and it could easily be stored under a bed or in a closet.
The machine doesn’t feature traditional hand grips or a centralized display unit, but it offers a remote control feature. Owners can step onto the vibration plate for stabilization before activating the motor remotely.
The pivotal vibrations can be intense at higher settings, but the motion itself is not destabilizing for the user. In other words, the vibration plate will not try to "buck" the user off, even at maximum power. However, potential buyers with mobility or balance issues may want to perform further research and testing before investing in a portable vibration unit without stabilizers.
The Whole Body's stated weight limit is 250 pounds. For heavier people looking to lose weight, this could be a drawback.
Because it is a compact unit, the Whole Body Vibration Machine does not arrive with many additional features beyond the three preset programs mentioned above.
A ten-minute session on the Whole Body Vibration Machine, especially at its higher settings, can feel like an hour or more on a treadmill.
The Gadget Fit employs a 600-watt motor to deliver oscillating (pivotal) vibrations to the plate, but it cannot provide lineal vibrations for certain WBV exercises. This could be a drawback for some customers, but many like the fact that this is a straightforward, entry-level machine with few distractions.
The unit has 50 speed settings, although experienced WBV practitioners may not notice much of a change until Level 20 or so. At higher speeds, the oscillation of this machine can be so intense that the teeth may chatter. In general, users should avoid maximum settings and extended sessions.
A WBV machine doesn’t reproduce the intensity of expensive gym vibration plates, but it definitely engages the muscles and joints for a stimulating workout.
The Gadget Fit Power Vibration Plate includes all of the standard features that most top contenders include: pulse monitoring, running time clock, and vibration speed. The exerciser can check his/her pulse by placing a hand on the rail and waiting for the results to appear on the centralized display.
Elapsed time and vibration speeds also appear on the display.
Users choose from three pre-programmed exercise routines. The primary goal of these programs is to introduce muscle confusion into the workout.
The Gadget Fit Power’s handrails can be removed to provide more room for the user during advanced exercises.
Ease of Use
At 68 pounds, the Gadget Fit is not exactly portable, but it is exceptionally sturdy. The vibration platform is smaller than those found on pricier units, which can make mounting, stabilizing, and dismounting a bit of a challenge. The narrowness of the plate is a known issue, but removing the handrails or modifying stance during a workout could help ameliorate this.
Two additional features we believe users will appreciate, even if they don't see them in action, are the Gadget Fit's anti-jamming and anti-static mechanisms.
Vibration plates have a tendency to generate a static electricity charge, especially when positioned over carpeting. The anti-static mechanism draws that energy away from the user, allowing it to dissipate safely. Jamming can also be a problem for any appliance or machine with oscillating parts. The Gadget Fit's anti-jamming protection prevents the motor from burning out and protects the user from sudden breakdowns.
In the product descriptions above, you may have noticed that some machines only vibrate in one direction, whereas others vibrate in multiple directions.
Each type of movement has positive and negative aspects, but generally speaking, the more choices you have, the better.
Here are the three most common directions a vibration platform machine can follow:
The user stands balanced on both left and right plates, and the machine vibrates in a side-to-side motion. Each leg is engaged, simulating the motions of running in place or using a rocker board. The most noticeable benefit from this motion is increased blood circulation to the feet and legs. Users also receive some cardio and aerobic stimulation similar to jogging.
Notably, some people report difficulty returning to “normal” walking for a few minutes after a “teeter totter” session.
If you have a pacemaker, do not use a vibration platform machine without first verifying its safety with your doctor.
Some vibration platform machines provide a linear motion that moves the user forward and backward. This motion stimulates a natural balancing reflex that increases muscle and joint engagement.
When used in combination with a side-by-side or up-and-down motion, this linear setting creates a beneficial “muscle confusion” that many athletes seek during training.
This is not necessarily a natural motion, however, and some users complain of joint pain after a session.
While all vibrational directions are considered beneficial, many experienced users and trainers say the most productive motion is up and down. This is the direction many select when performing vibration training in “stressed” positions.
The vertical vibrations force muscles to contract and relax repeatedly. This motion can make a shorter workout session on the vibration platform machine more efficient than a longer calisthenic routine.
The biggest challenge here lies in finding an in-home machine that delivers a powerful up-and-down vibration.
Stability is an important consideration. The user needs to feel stable while holding various positions, and he/she should be able to read the machine's displays and make adjustments during exercise.
Commercial vibration platform machines can easily cost thousands of dollars, and many provide only one form of vibratory energy — either lineal or pivotal. The consumer-friendly models on our shortlist deliver roughly the same type of performance at a fraction of the price. But there are tradeoffs to consider. For instance, a lower-priced contender might have a weaker motor.
Here’s a look at what each product on our shortlist gives you for the money:
At $1529, the GForce Power Vibe vibration platform sits at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. But this model provides commercial-grade service at a retail price. Dual-motor units like this one deliver options that other single-motor models simply can't.
We recommend the high-end GForce Power Vibe to experienced consumers who want to recreate the therapeutic benefits of WBV at home. It’s not an entry-level machine, and consumers should consult a health professional before making this kind of investment.
At a price of $249, the Confidence Fitness Slim competes on even ground with similar at-home machines like the Gadget Fit.
Other vibration platform machines may feature more powerful motors, but they also impose a lower weight limit than the Confidence Fitness Slim. This is an important consideration, as many customers seek out WBV machines for muscle toning and weight loss.
We find that the versatility of the Confidence Fitness Slim makes it an attractive and affordable alternative to pricier dual-motor models.
A 2011 study from the University of Toronto debunked the theory that vibration therapy improves bone density. If you suffer from low bone density, do not rely solely on WBV to improve your condition.
At $0, the Tripact Whole Body Vibration Machine is on par with other entry-level vibrating platforms. Its DC motor delivers substantial power, especially for its size, and the entire base transports from home to office or hotel room with ease.
Other vibration machines do not store easily and can be extremely heavy, but the Whole Body unit is not limited to one corner of one room every time someone wants to use it. If portability is a serious consideration for a potential WBV practitioner, this top contender could be the perfect fit.
However, it’s somewhat hampered by its lack of additional features. Supportive handrails are not required for safe operation, but some users may perceive their absence as problematic.
The Whole Body Vibration (Butterfly) machine is quite different from the others on our shortlist. It’s almost as small as a digital scale, and it has no handrails.
The Gadget Fit's incredibly low retail price of $189 makes it a serious contender for budget-minded users.
The unit has almost all of the features of higher-end vibration platform machines, including pre-programmed workouts, pulse monitoring, speed and time displays, and a 600-watt oscillating motor. It’s sturdy enough to accommodate users up to the recommended 265-pound weight limit.
While the reduced size of the vibration platform may be an issue for some, the Gadget Fit Power Vibration machine is a decent entry-level contender, especially when you consider its price and ease of assembly.
Most in-home vibration platform machines are designed for light to medium intensity, not the high intensity provided by machines found in professional gyms.
Vibration platform machine owners should remember that vibration therapy is still considered an alternative health regimen. Few rigorous scientific studies exist to support WBV therapy, and those that have been performed do not generally support most of the health claims made by manufacturers.
These machines deliver on their promise of multi-directional vibrations at a therapeutic level, but users should not expect the miraculous results some manufacturers promote through unverified advertising claims.
One common criticism is that most in-home vibrating platforms aren’t powerful enough to be therapeutic. Pain relief is generally temporary, not permanent. However, many satisfied vibration platform machine customers report positive results after a few sessions at home.
Be sure to check the maximum weight limit of a potential purchase before ordering it. Some machines, like the Axis-Plate Vibration Pro, have a weight limit of 330 lbs. Others, like the Whole Body Vibration (Butterfly) machine, have a much lower weight limit of 250 lbs.
Another common issue voiced by critics is misinformation about vibration therapy’s effectiveness against specific ailments. Several years ago, a widely published study claimed that a number of Parkinson's sufferers experienced neuromuscular relief after vibration therapy sessions. The actual results did not support this claim, saying the reported relief was comparable to others who received placebo treatments.
The initial claims of bone regeneration among astronauts who received vibration therapy also proved to be unsupported scientifically.
One of the few health benefits of vibration therapy to have any substantial merit was a slight increase in leg strength and endurance.
We urge vibration platform machine owners to consult with a medical professional before starting any therapeutic or exercise regimen. Those with pre-existing conditions such as advanced diabetes, hypertension, and neuromuscular disease should use extreme caution before, during, and after any vibration therapy or training.
Q. Will WBV help me lose weight?
A. The vibration platform machine itself is not sold as a weight loss device, but a number of users do report an improvement in muscle tone and a reduction in core fat deposits. The best we can say is that vibration therapy can help discourage the formation of new fat deposits.
Individual manufacturers and vibration therapy enthusiasts often tout weight loss as a bona fide benefit, but results cannot be guaranteed.
Q. I'm already a trained athlete in great shape. How would vibration therapy help me?
A. Vibration therapy can help professional athletes in numerous ways.
Vibration platforms provide a faster method for warming up muscles before a training session or athletic event.
Including a high-intensity vibration training interval in a stressed position (squat, knee bend, plank, etc.) can strengthen muscles over time.
Some elite gymnasts use a vibration platform machine while rehabbing sprained ankles, knees, or hips.
Q. How long should a typical vibration therapy session last?
A. A common rule of thumb among vibration therapy experts is that ten minutes on a vibration platform is the equivalent of one hour of similar exercise in a gym. For most people, ten minutes per day should be enough for maximum health benefit. However, athletes seeking vibration training will probably want to extend that time or complete two routines per day.
Q. Can I use a vibration platform machine strictly for “passive” exercise, without doing other cardio or aerobic workouts?
A. Although some people do use these machines for passive massage therapy or other health benefits, those who want to lose weight or tone muscles should consider supplementing vibration therapy sessions with regular calisthenic or cardio routines.
The vibration training machines commonly found in commercial gyms can deliver a more intense “passive” workout than most home models.