Types of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) Machines

This section describes the different types of whole body vibration machines in terms of the motion of the plate. The motion of the plate is the main distinguishing characteristic among vibration machines and determines the main uses of such a device. Note that quality of design and manufacturer plays a major role too. There are vibration machines that appear to operate the same way, ranging in price from $200 to $10,000. The difference is how they feel and their reliability.




Elliptical Vibration

Oscillating Vibration

Elliptical Vibration

Type of plate motion

The plate moves straight up and down with minimal horizontal movement. This is regarded to be safer and more comfortable because the plate acts in the direction of gravity and does not stress the body with unnatural forces. Vertical vibration plates are discussed in more detail below.

One side of the plate tilts up, while the other side tilts down, alternating like a “teeter-totter”. This is not true “whole body vibration” because very little vibration occurs in the upper half of the body, the up and down motion canceling out at the hips. This is one of the cheapest vibrating plate from a manufacturing perspective is therefore most common among the low-end models.

Elliptical plates move similarly to vertical units but with more horizontal and less vertical movement. Sold as a “feature” this is in reality an engineering shortcut, a means of avoiding the expense of additional hardware necessary to eliminate the undesirable horizontal motion. Also popular among the lower cost models.

Frequency range

2Hz to 100Hz, although this varies widely depending on the technology used.

30Hz to 40Hz

20Hz to 50Hz

Force control

Varies depending on technology. Only one variety of vertical vibration technology allows fine control of the force. Others are fixed, or depend on frequency (i.e. force cannot be adjusted, but changes as the frequency is changed).

No control of force through the device, although a wider or narrower stance on the plate will effectively decrease or increase the force of vibration.

Generally not adjustable, although it does change when adjusting frequency. Some variations engage a second motor to provide a Low/High control.

Range of posture

Only Theravibe facilitates therapeutic whole body vibration. Others of this type are generally too powerful to stand erect and it is necessary to bend the knees (when standing).

Under certain conditions it is possible to stand erect. However, since the complementary motion of one leg moving up while the other moves down cancels out at the hips, very little vibration passes through to the upper body.

Requires that knees are bent (when standing) due to the force of the vibration.

Example models

  • TheraVibe™
  • The Wave
  • Turbosonic
  • Fitvibe
  • Pineapple
  • Noblerex K-1
  • Proellixe
  • Crazy Fit Massage
  • VibraTrim
  • Power Plate
  • Soloflex
  • BodyVibe

Type of plate motion: This describes the pattern of motion of the vibrating plate. The vibration resulting from the differences in the motion of the plate give rise to a wide variety of therapeutic applications.

Frequency range: Different parts of the body respond to different frequency of vibration, so a wide frequency range means more therapeutic uses and therefore a wider range of benefits. For example frequencies in the 3..6Hz range create more joint movement and therefore improves range of motion and balance. Frequencies above 25Hz are better for building bone density.

Force control: This is the force that one experiences while standing on the vibrating plate of the machine. Many of the benefits increase with more powerful vibration. However, the wide range of age and physical disposition of people who can benefit from therapeutic whole body vibration (TWBV) therapy necessitates the ability to control the force of the vibration.

For therapeutic devices it is essential that the vibration force is adjustable. The ideal range is from a level low enough to be barely perceptible to a maximum that results in an equivalent of gravitational force.

Range of posture: To be called "whole body vibration", the vibration must be is experienced by the whole body, from head to toe. Surprisingly however, only a small handful of machines allow the user to stand comfortably in the upright position or sit on the plate, which are the ideal positions to experience whole body vibration.

All machines allow the user to adopt a position other than upright, although these position are used primarily for strengthening.