Over the past couple of decades body vibration machines (BVMs) have become increasingly popular. This type of fitness equipment has been around for quite some time, but thanks to the numerous scientific studies conducted lately, the interest in them has seen a dramatic rise. Known also as a body vibrating platform, the body vibrating machine produces high frequency oscillations that travel through the body, bringing many benefits along the way.
The exercise that is performed on the vibrating platforms is called W (WBV) – a type of physical intervention that has been a subject to a large number of clinical trials since the beginning of the 21st century. But as with any type of recreational activity, WBV has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we are going to examine in greater depth the disadvantages of vibration machines (VMs). Before that however, let’s take a closer look at the machine itself and the benefits that come with it.
What is the body vibration machine and what are its benefits?
The body vibrating machine is an innovative piece of fitness equipment that comprises a vibrating plate and in most cases a handrail for extra safety. The plate produces high frequency vibrations within the range of 5 – 50 Hz that stimulate muscles to contact at a higher rate. So far, the machine has been proven to increase muscle power, to improve blood circulation, to strengthen bones and to aid weight loss.
But the list with benefits does not stop there. WBV has been found helpful in accelerating lymphatic drainage. Furthermore, some studies indicate that the BVM aids physical recovery, improves flexibility, and relieves the symptoms of chronic back pain. Indeed, the pros of the vibrating platform are numerous and outweigh the cons several fold, yet there are some disadvantages of vibration machines that you need to take into consideration.
What are some of the most common disadvantages of vibration machines?
BVMs are generally safe and are not associated with severe negative effects. Of course, this is true provided that you use the equipment properly, and the frequency range of the oscillations fall within the safety range.
Additionally, there are certain groups of the population that unfortunately should stay away from the equipment. This includes patients with specific health conditions, and women who are pregnant. Apart from that, whole body vibration is considered safe for the rest of the population. Below are 3 of the most common disadvantages of the body vibration machine.
1. Body vibration machines are not for everyone
Those of you who fall in one of the categories below should stay away from the body vibration platform. If in doubt, please speak to your health provider for further advice.
You should avoid WBV if you:
- Have been diagnosed with a severe heart condition
- Have undergone a recent surgery
- Suffer from diabetes, epilepsy or kidney stones
- Have recently had metal pins or bolts fitted
- Had some sort of orthopedic or head injury in the near past
- Are pregnant
2. Body vibration machines may be harmful to the brain
Due to its frequent occurrence in everyday life and within certain occupational settings, vibration has been a subject of numerous scientific studies. It is worth mentioning however that occupational vibration (caused by heavy machinery and construction tools) is different from whole-body vibration (caused by the use of vibrating platforms).
According to this article, the former is a type of vibration that is associated with extremely high frequencies (above 100 Hz) and prolonged exposure (6 – 8 hours a day), which is why it can be detrimental for the overall health, including that of the human brain. On the other hand, the latter is related to frequencies within the healthy range (up to 60 Hz) and much shorter timings (15 – 20 minutes a day).
Having said that, bear in mind that some manufacturers of BVMs offer products that produce vibrations well above the safety level, which is why some machines can be harmful to the brain. Before opting for one, make sure you perform your due diligence.
3. The scientific evidence behind body vibration machines is not conclusive
Since NASA started using WBV for improving the bone health of its astronauts some 60 years ago, the activity has become a subject of numerous scientific studies. Even though the majority of the results are promising, there are still studies that deny the benefits associated with the regular use of the body-shaking equipment. In this line of thought, it is worth mentioning that the scientific evidence varies and might be contradictory due to the fact that the studies use different types of vibration machines.
In other words, some VMs are truly great and some are simply not worth it. This is why if you are considering a purchase, you need to become familiar with all the factors that separate good vibration platforms from the not so-good ones. So, what are the most important factors to consider? Let’s find out!
- Make sure you buy from a reputable company that provides after care support and allows for a free trial – some companies offer up to 90 days no-risk trial;
- Look for machines that can give you a force of at least 10G and above – the letter “G” stands for “Gravity” meaning that equipment with 10G produces force equal to 10 times the Earth gravity;
- When choosing a VM make sure it offers a high enough frequency range, as otherwise you might end up wasting your time, effort and money. For best results, you need a frequency of at least 20 – 30 Hz.
Body vibration machines offer numerous benefits, such as stronger muscles, denser bones, and better circulation. Just as with any other type of fitness equipment, along with the advantages, the platform carries certain disadvantages. Among the most common ones are the possible side effects to the brain, associated with frequencies above the safety limit; the limitations linked to certain demographic groups; and the contradictory scientific evidence.
Other minor disadvantages are related to the size and weight of the equipment which makes it difficult to move around and the louder noise produced by some machines. Before opting for one, you need to get the whole picture, check all available reviews, and do your homework well. This way you will make an informative decision and a purchase that is really worth it.