Understanding vibration fitness training terminology

Vibration fitness training terminology varies from one vibration exercise company to another. What was originally called ‘bio mechanical muscle stimulation’ turned into whole body vibration. Things are getting even more interesting now considering companies are putting their own label on their vibration machines to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. This article focuses on a lot of the terminology you are going to come in contact with and helps you get a clearer understanding of what everyone is talking about.

‘A rose by any other name’ Shakespeare

What’s in a name? In the Whole Body Vibration exercise field, it’s starting to become important as companies begin giving it new names and labels. What was originally whole body vibration exercise, new names are popping up, such as Acceleration training, Biomechanical Muscle Stimulation, and company names such as Hypergravity. Here’s a list of the different names and definitions that you may encounter when you read about whole body vibration:

  1. whole body vibration
  2. biomechanical muscle stimulation
  3. oscillation platforms
  4. lineal platforms
  5. sound vibration
  6. acceleration training
  7. high frequency, low amplitude vibration

Whole body vibration

This is the most common term that people are aware of when it comes to vibration training machines. This is probably one of the biggest marketing mistakes anyone can make for a new and effective technology. You see, whole body vibration exercise should not be confused with occupation whole body vibration. The terms are so similar that it initially produced a lot of hesitancy in the rehabilitation and medical fields. When a doctor or therapist would hear of whole body vibration, their initial reaction was that of occupational whole body vibration, which incidentally leads to various health issues. It’s no surprise why I continue to get a lot of unfounded statements and questions from health professionals. Vibration exercise is rarely ‘whole body’. Some companies will state that their machines ARE whole body. However, vibration travels in different parts of the body with different frequencies. Only certain muscles will be targeted, depending on the frequency and the exercise position.

Bio mechanical Muscle Stimulation

Bio mechanical muscle stimulation is a term that most closely represents what vibration exercise does in the rehabilitation field. In a nutshell, vibration training involuntarily contracts your muscles. In the rehabilitation field, therapists and doctors use ‘electrical muscle stimulation’ to help contract muscles involuntarily. Vibration does it bio mechanically. I firmly believe that if this term was adopted, there would have been more acceptance and less hesitancy in the medical and rehabilitation fields.

Acceleration training

This term has been coined by Power Plate. The good thing is that they were smart enough to understand that ‘whole body vibration’ may have negative connotations. The bad thing is that they changed the term so people would think they produced a unique product that nobody else has. It’s vibration training, plain and simple. There’s nothing unique about their technology that others can’t claim. However, this shift towards another name from whole body vibration may lead to better adoption. The fact that it’s a term that is related to only one company will confuse the public even more.

 Oscillating vibration platforms

Oscillating vibration platforms are machines that go in a teeter totter type of motion. That’s pretty much it. There are two types of machines and oscillating is one of them. Again, companies will try to set themselves apart from others by hyping their machine at the expense of the other type of vibration fitness training  machine. The secret is that both type of machines work. When you see terms like oscillating or lineal, don’t equate that to one being ‘better’ than another. Both types work. It’s just a way to differentiate between the two types.

 Lineal / vertical vibration fitness training platforms

This is the other type of platform. The whole platform moves up and down as one unit. There’s nothing bad or damaging about this platform. Lots of research is being done with this type. Again, you have some advantages and disadvantages of using one type of platform over another. Choosing one over another is not about one being superior, but about which one fits your needs the best.

 Sound vibration fitness training

These are what they call ‘sonic vibration’ machines. Companies like Turbosonic promote this type of machine. I’ve been on these and I do like some aspects of them. However, again be wary about the claims and comparisons with the other type of machines. These machines provide lineal /  vertical vibration effects, but at lower frequency / amplitude combinations than your typical vertical machines. What do I mean by this? The company claims to have a lot more settings. However, what they forget to tell you is that the higher the frequency, the lower the amplitude. You can’t get 10 mm amplitude at 50 Hz. You lower the frequency, the higher the amplitude. That’s unlike other vertical machines that can give you one amplitude across the various frequencies.

Another thing is that I’m still confused on where the ‘sound’ vibration comes from. Last time I checked, there weren’t sound woofers making the platform go up and down. They continue to state that their machines are better because they don’t have motors. However, they still have mechanical moving parts. Check out any youtube video and you’ll see. One word of caution: I’m not bashing these machines. They have been shown to produce great results in certain situations. Again, it depends on your goals and needs.

 High frequency, low amplitude vibration

These are your typical ‘osteoporosis’ machines like the Marodyne Liv Tablet, which was originally called the Juvent. These machines are based on the assumption that your amplitude is very low. That’s’ why you won’t get muscle contractions with these. You’ll mostly get a buzzing feeling and you’ll need to stand on these twice a day for about 20 minutes a day. These are great for seniors that really can’t do much. Again, the company goes out of its way to not only differentiate itself from other machines, but completely discredit all other machines. All I have to say is, are they serious? There are so many wrong things in their statements that its difficult to start here. Here’s the scoop. The machines work for certain populations based on your needs. All other types of vibration fitness training machines are not dangerous like this group suggests. I believe there is a very large financial incentive to say otherwise. Again, I like the company and what they are doing. I just don’t like some of the misinformation being presented.

So there you have it. This is a short list of some of the different definitions for vibration fitness training. If you continue to be confused by the terminology, simply email us when you need to. We are more than happy to clear up some of your questions and concerns. As the vibration exercise field increases in popularity, we should see a lot of different companies fall by the wayside. The companies that are able to differentiate themselves based on quality, research and customer satisfaction will ultimately succeed. Understanding vibration fitness training terminology is the first step to achieving your own personal health or fitness goals.


About the Author Dr. Jasper Sidhu

Dr. Jasper Sidhu has been using vibration platforms for over 10 years in rehabilitation, sports, fitness and weight loss settings. In addition to hands on treatment of patients and clients in these settings, he has lectured at various universities and medical association meetings on the application of vibration training.  

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