Do you pride yourself on staying up with the latest and greatest fitness technology? If so, you are likely familiar with vibration machines, which are gaining popularity and exposure in rehabilitation, physical therapy, and commercial gyms.
With anything new comes sharp critique, and the vibration machines are not exempt to skeptics or critics. But while it is widely believed that this is something new and revolutionary, it is pretty interesting to consider that vibrational therapy dates way back to the 1960s.
Yep, that’s right, vibration machines are actually making a comeback!
If you know about the Space Race in the 1960s, then you know about the stark competition between the USA and the USSR (now Russia) to be the leaders in space technology. One of the problems that needed to be solved was the fact that astronauts could not stay in space for long period of time; being unable to perform weight-bearing exercises led to quick muscle atrophy and weakened bones (gravity is so underrated!).
The Soviet space program introduced vibrational therapy to counteract this consequence of space travel, as they had researched the bone-strengthening and muscle-building benefits.
How cool is it that training that was once exclusive to astronauts is now widely available?!
But before you hop on a vibration machine or decide to invest in one of your own, it’s important to point out the range of benefits you can get...
Vibration Machine Benefits
The benefits that vibration machines provide seem less obvious than those of traditional rigorous exercise, because vibration machines are categorized as passive exercise.
This simply means that an outside force (person or machine) is stimulating the various systems of the body; one such example is a physical therapist helping a patient stretch.
Passive exercise has less time in the spotlight and therefore less research behind it, but that does not negate the benefits that have been discovered. The same is true for using a vibration machine. Here is a short list of what you can gain from regular vibrating sessions...
- Improve circulation
As soon as you step on the vibration machine, the oxygen in your blood increases; this results in increased blood circulation throughout the body.
How? The contraction of the muscles demands that more oxygen be released to sustain it. And when your circulation improves, it means your body can receive nutrients more efficiently, thus being a key component of optimal total-body health.
- Boost lymphatic drainage
We are constantly bombarded with toxins, from the environments that we live in, the food that we eat, and the products that we use. It’s a lot for the body to filter out, and more and more research is pointing to the resulting inflammation and disease, thanks to this influx of toxins.
The lymphatic system is the primary waste removal system that the body employs, and the vibration machine stimulates this system in order to help with removal. This has a positive effect on overall health, as it flushes out harmful toxins that would otherwise stay trapped.
- Increased muscle strength and bone density
As mentioned, this was the original reason that vibrational therapy was created. So how does it work? When a muscle contacts and expands, the result is not limited to improved circulation; it also means that the muscle itself will grow stronger.
Why? Your muscles consist of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers; the effects of the vibration machine recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers into action, and therefore improve their strength.
While this is happening with the muscles, the vibrations also cause osteoblasts to occur in the bones; those are responsible for the increase in bone density. Because the muscles and bones are being stimulated in this unique way by the vibration machine, many users report improved balance and coordination as well.
- Speeds up weight loss
As mentioned above, the use of the vibration machine asks the muscles to work differently, and therefore improves their function and strength. But what’s really cool is that if you’re looking to lose body fat, you can actually perform exercises on the vibration machine.
Yes, there are entire workouts dedicated to vibration machines (keep reading the product reviews at the end of the article to learn more). Building lean muscle mass is the key to long-term weight loss, and the extra push from the vibration machine gives a major boost in that direction.
- Cellulite reduction
Cellulite has become one of the most elusive, misunderstood, and dreaded conditions that affect women in particular; it often manifests on the thighs, buttocks, and upper arms, and it is dubbed the “cottage cheese” skin condition that is named after its dimply appearance.
In a nutshell, the subcutaneous tissues contain a web of connective tissue that store much of the body fat. Because there are many layers of tissue, the surface of the skin shows up with cellulite when the the fatty cells get enlarged. This is also due to the fact that inelastic fibers connect these layers. Add poor circulation, hormonal factors, and cellular waste in the form of toxins to the equation, and you have a true cellulite problem.
The vibration machine fights against cellulite by improving circulation as well as lymphatic drainage, which keeps the fat cells from enlarging and the toxins from stagnating. Sign me up.
- Better flexibility and mobility
Vibration machines provide relief to overworked, tight muscles, by stimulating them and also sending more blood to them. This opens up the muscles, which directly leads to improved flexibility.
It is recommended to do some light stretching after using the machine, in order to maximize flexibility potential.
- Postural stability
What leads to poor posture? In most cases, it is a result of muscle tightness or weakness, sedentary lifestyle, stiff joints, lack of exercise, or poor core stability and strength.
The vibration machine assists in fighting against all of those causes and leads to users being able to stand straighter and taller. Long-term studies have shown a decrease in rambling and trembling motions in the frontal plane, which leads to more stable posture.
- Natural relief for back pain
Similar to understanding the causes of poor posture, it is important to understand the reason behind back pain - a condition that affects approximately 80% of people. When the spine or pelvis move out of alignment, you feel back pain due to the muscular system trying to compensate.
The vibration machine helps loosen tight muscles and therefore, allows you to adjust your posture (as mentioned above). When your posture improves, your back pain does, too. We call that a win-win.
- Boosts digestion
If you haven’t heard, a healthy gut is the new gateway to good health. Scientists are beginning to uncover the importance of a pristine microbiome, which is a fancy word used to describe the ratio of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the intestines.
While the vibrating machine does not add to the much-needed good bacteria (only things you ingest can do that!), it does help in the removal of the bad bacteria by stimulating the intestines and improving digestion. Many users find major relief from constipation after a few vibrational therapy sessions.
- Instant mood boost
We could not possibly write this article without telling you that the vibration machine is just plain fun to use. It is interesting and feels good, and it doesn’t require work (unless you choose to exercise on it). It also provides relaxation because it gives you time to unpack mentally as you receive the benefits of the session.
You don’t have to worry about whether you’re “doing it right,” which is a major stressor when people exercise, particularly with new machines. Many users opt to put on their head phones and sit down on their machines for a relaxing session. Overall, you’re provided with a stimulating but relaxing experience that improves your body and mind.
How to Choose the Best Vibration Machine: A Buyer's Crash Course
Now that you're familiar with the range of vibration machine benefits, we have to explore what to consider when choosing one for yourself.
Learning the science and technicalities may not be the fun part of using the machine, but it definitely makes a difference when it comes to getting the results you desire. Some machines are better than others when it comes to weight loss, for example.
In order to find the perfect vibration machine for you, let's delve into the most crucial factors to consider when shopping...
So, the first thing you will want to explore is the type of plate that you prefer. As you begin shopping and exploring, you will see that vibration machines typically offer two different types of plates: oscillating and vertical. What’s the difference?
Imagine your feet are on a see-saw, with each foot straddling either side of the plank. When one foot lifts, the other one lowers, and this lift-lower pattern repeats.
This is how the oscillating plates operates, and the lift-lower movements cause your body to jiggle along the way.
You typically see this configuration in weight-loss spas, as oscillating plates are believed to have the advantage when it comes to trimming fat. This design is also typically less expensive.
Also called Pivotal, Tilting, Rotational, See-Saw and Teeter-Totter.
Simply explained, vertical plates do what they sound like: they move you up and down.
The technology seems a bit more complex to explain, but it is reflective in a higher price point. Manufacturers claim that oscillating plates cause more wear and tear on ligaments, whereas vertical plates produce a more natural vibrating motion.
Medical professionals and athletes seem to prefer vertical plates, as these machines are primarily seen in physical therapy clinics and high-performing athletic training programs.
Also called Linear, Uniform, Synchronous, and Piston.
While the plates are the main component to consider, there are several other technical specifications worth exploring in order to get the best machine for you.
Making an informed decision means getting the greatest results possible, so dig in to learn a little more about what these technical terms mean...
Heeeey, intensity. Just like various cardio machines provide a range of resistance levels, vibration machines do this via amplitude. So, in the same way that an elliptical machine on level 15 feels way harder than on level 1, the higher amplitude a vibration machine produces, the more intense it feels.
A key difference in researching is to determine whether or not the vibration machine allows for amplitude adjustment; most higher-end models do, but some basic models come with fixed amplitude levels.
The frequency range is all about the speed; it measures how fast the plates move per second. Similar to the amplitude, a wider frequency range translates to a better machine, as you’ll be getting a more efficient workout. The frequency range is typically measured in Hertz (Hz), as you will see in the reviews.
This is mostly important to consider when it comes to usage; higher motor power simply means the machine is better equipped to deal with heavy usage. This is important if you’re purchasing a machine for a gym or a spa, as it will get a lot more use than a machine purchased strictly for home-use. This measurement is typically displayed in Watts (W) or Horsepower (HP).
Will you be exercising on your vibration machine? If so, you need a larger platform. Of course, this also means you will need a more powerful motor to compensate for the larger size.
However, if you just want to relax and reap the passive benefits of the machine, then you just need enough room to stand (or sit!).
Depending on the model, some machines have lower weight capacity limits, which would not be ideal to purchase if you're looking for an addition to your weight loss home gym. Be sure to read product descriptions to see the maximum weight allowance for each machine.
I’m a sucker for extras, and accessories make a big difference when I’m looking to buy something. Some accessories offered with vibration machines include: resistance straps to assist in workouts (primarily for upper body), BMI measurements, calorie counters, and LED windows to display time, speed, etc.
Some machines include pre-programmed workouts, which can be extremely useful for both beginners and those who like to take the guess-work out of creating a training program. A few newer options even include built-in speakers and ports to plug in your technology of choice, so great news for those of you who want to watch the news while getting your vibration on!
As always, be sure to check for warranties, especially if there are a lot of bells and whistles on your vibration machine.
So What is the Best Vibration Machine?
So now that you know what a vibration machine is, what it does to improve your health, and what makes one a good investment, it is time to see what options are already out there on the market.
We have compiled this list of vibration machine reviews to give you a starting place. Happy jiggling!
An excellent choice for at home use, this vibration machine features oscillating plates that the manufacturer touts as major weight loss aids. It definitely is meant to be used in conjunction with workouts, as it is fitted with yoga straps that can be used for upper body exercises and strength-training.
A major perk of this machine is the small amount of time required; many users begin seeing results after just 10 minutes on the machine, a few times each week. The weight capacity is 300 pounds, which also lends to a great choice for a weight loss machine.
This machine is also relatively easy to put together upon arrival, and it is pretty quiet, too, which makes it even more attractive for home use. Read all user reviews!
- Type: Oscillating
- Speed range: 1 - 50
- Frequency range: 50-60Hz
- Motor power: 600W
- Weight limit: 300lbs
Another awesome option for home use, the Merax whole body vibration machines comes equipped with 10 different pre-set programs, yoga straps for upper body workouts, and four LED windows for program, time, and speed.
This machine provides many more options than its competitor above, the Confidence Fitness machine, and is only slightly more expensive. It also has a much higher speed range, which will improve the quality of workouts. Extra perk? It's easy to put together and makes little noise during use. Read all user reviews!
- Type: Oscillating
- Speed range: 1 - 160
- Frequency range: 60Hz
- Motor power: 2000W
- Weight limit: 300lbs
This oscillating plate machine offers a less expensive option for a home gym, and it still boasts some impressive technical specifications: an efficient 600W motor, a display showing time/speed/pulse, anti-jamming and anti-static mechanism, 50 incremental speed settings, and three built-in workout programs.
One important consideration to note is that the maximum user weight 265lbs, so it is not ideal for obese users. Because it is less powerful than competitors, this machine is better suited for improved circulation and stress relief, as opposed to weight loss. Read all user reviews!
- Type: Oscillating
- Speed range: 1 - 50
- Frequency range: 60Hz
- Motor power: 600W
- Weight limit: 265lbs
On the hunt for a portable, easy-to-stow-away vibration machine? The Merax Platform machine is the most aesthetically pleasing option, as it is fitted with brand new technology and looks bright and futuristic.
It also is versatile in its movements, as the oscillating plates move in both a see-saw pattern and a lateral motion. Some other key features include current overload protection as well as disturbance and static electricity resistance.
Although this is a simple stand-alone platform, it does come fitted with yoga straps to use for upper body resistance workouts. Additionally, it comes with built-in speakers with MP3/iPod/USB input and a remote control.
This machine does not have any built-in programs, but for a separate fee, you can purchase an extensive training guide. While it appears this platform is geared toward fitness goals and weight loss, it definitely can be used for all of the other collateral benefits as well. Read all user reviews!
- Type: Oscillating
- Speed range: 1 - 99
- Motor power: 1000W
- Weight limit: 300lbs
Okay, we've saved the best for last. At a higher price point, this vertical-plated machine stands out as the most professional, commercial-worthy equipment that can be used in the home or in a gym, spa, or training room.
It is equipped with a state-of-the-art electronic display that provides access to a wide variety of 24 various stretching, strengthening, and massage programs. It also utilizes a generously oversized vibration platform, so it is easy to perform both standing and lying exercises without feeling restricted or crowded.
Another cool option is that you can actually create up to three custom user programs, and this is ideal for those going through physical therapy or rehabilitation programs. This machine also comes with anti-fatigue mats that are ergonomically created to support extended time standing.
Finally, a built in feature allows for a tablet or iPad to be attached to the top of the display for entertainment/leisure, or to access the accompanying workout app. Read all user reviews!
- Type: Mostly vertical
- Frequency range: 30 - 50 Hz
- Weight limit: 500lbs
Tips on Using a Vibration Machine
We are going to leave you with a few tips to get started using a vibration machine; since this is not a mainstream piece of equipment, it often gets misused, especially for beginners.
As with any other exercise program, you should start slow. Build up your endurance by only staying on the machine for a few minutes during your first several uses. Then, gradually increase the amount of time you spend on it and start slowly adding in one exercise at a time.
You want to ensure you have the proper range of motion to perform workouts, so using the machine to help warm-up your muscles prior to exerting them is definitely advised.
Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - with water! We talked about the amazing detoxification benefits that vibrational therapy provides, specifically for the lymphatic and digestive systems.
Here is a quick rule of thumb for much water you should be drinking: simply calculate half of your body weight (in pounds) and drink the same number of ounces.
The vibration machine is a great starting point for total body health since it stimulates virtually every system in your body; we love hearing about readers’ experiences with equipment, so be sure to leave us a few lines and let us know what happened when you started regularly indulging in vibration therapy!