Research and Development of Whole Body Vibration
With the advent of the first applications of whole body vibration machines utilized for the space programs in the 1960’s, we have seen the further development and improvement of these machines, to the point now, where vibration exercise machines have become highly sophisticated technological and mechanical marvels.
Early vibration exercise machines were crude units that shook uncontrollably and offered limited benefit to users. In fact, they may actually have caused more harm than good. We now recognize that there are many different forms of vibrations, and in fact, the term vibration refers to a mechanical phenomenon where oscillations occur around an equilibrium point. When discussing vibration machines we are really discussing waves and wave patterns. Physics teaches us that waves are oscillations accompanied by a transfer of energy, and that is exactly what we want in a vibration exercise machine, we want to transfer energy from a machine to various points in the body. Our bodies become the medium for the energy of the wave. There are many different types of wave patterns, some are desirable for our purpose and others are actually undesirable. There are several factors in a wave that is of importance to us, such as the frequency of the wave, the amplitude of the wave, and the direction of the wave. Other important factors come into play as well, such as the steadiness of the wave frequency, that is to say, are all the waves exactly the same (same amplitude, same frequency, same direction), or are some waves emanating from the machine different than others. Consistency may be one word to describe this.
Some specific waves can be very dangerous to the human body. In fact, various organs in the body have different densities and these parts respond differently when subjected to the same energy wave. The CDC and OSHA both have very specific guidelines about the type, frequency, and duration of acceptable vibrations that workers may be subjected to.
To properly conduct the research, all the above factors are taken into consideration. It’s easy to see that designing and manufacturing a proper whole body vibration machine has to account for a great deal of science and research. Much of this research is difficult if not impossible without very specific scientific testing equipment, and the brightest highly educated technical staff, which is very costly. So it’s completely understandable that only the larger manufacturing firms can allocate the funds necessary to properly design a whole body vibration machine that functions as desired. These firms are secretive of their research findings and don’t share them with one another and often offset their research costs by way of trademarks and patents on their designs. Suffice it to say that the no-name brand of machine is not going to perform anywhere near the abilities of a properly designed machine. It’s easy to make a machine that vibrates and looks like a name brand unit, but it’s not so easy to make one that vibrates correctly.
Once all the research is done, the next step is to physically make the machine, and with today’s multi-motion machines, the mechanics themselves are very difficult to manufacture. Many of the better machines have 2 motors and 2 completely independent drive systems that have to interact with each other in very specific ways, without transferring or altering the waves of energy produced by any single motor. Think of the concept of having a car with 2 engines. Both engines are necessary for moving the car at the same time at various speeds, but one motor can’t interact with the other motor. A difficult task indeed, especially for someone with no tools and no garage to build it. Unfortunately, this is not a project for a small company with little Research and Development. Same reason why there are only a handful of automakers in the world. Anyone can build a go-kart. But a go-kart does not perform like a car and is unsafe on the highway or in traffic. In other words, beware of the copycat vibration companies on the market that are more interested in making a buck than improving your health.