We could categorize vibration training technology into two main categories:
Some refer to a 3rd category, triplanar, however the majority of triplanar platform movement occurs via a uniform motion on the vertical axis and therefore falls under the category of Lineal. This lack of distinction is further supported by the fact that the majority of Lineal platforms, being incapable of delivering movement purely on the vertical axis, also have a 3D component. Lastly, worth consideration, is that some sources claim that 3D vibration is nothing more than a marketing term used to disguise a poorly manufactured platform that cannot control its vertical movement and thus moves excessively in the horizontal planes. With all this in mind, below you’ll find a diagram of the two primary platform types that we will discuss and the typical frequency and displacement ranges for each. Also take note of the other common terms often used to describe each method.
Pivotal: Triangular Oscillating, Oscillating, Side Alternating, Rotational, Tilting, Teeter-Totter.
Lineal: Vertical, Synchronous, Uniform, Piston, Flat, 3D, Elliptical, Triplanar
The first type, Pivotal, moves like a seesaw and exerts its influence on the body in a alternating right to left motion. If we envision our body moving instead of the platform, the legs and pelvis moves up and down alternatively.
Lineal, moves up and down in one uniform motion. A Lineal platform exerts its influence on the body by moving both legs at the same time. Again, if we envision our body moving instead of the platform, the legs and pelvis move up and down uniformly.
Basics of Vibration – The History of the 2 Platform Types
The first commercially available platform was a German Pivotal platform called the Galileo, founded in 1996. Galileo laid claim to exclusivity of the Pivotal vibration method via an earlier patent. Years later, numerous other Pivotal machines emerged with the utilization of different type of technology than the Galileo utilized. These platforms also produced Pivotal vibration.
Having that been said, the Galileo patent was originally very strong so this gave rise to the next vibration method, Lineal vibration. Dr Carmelo Bosco, an Italian scientist who initially led the way in Whole Body Vibration research with the Galileo platform soon developed his own machine, a Lineal platform called NEMES. Most people believe that the existence of such a large number of Lineal platforms on the market is a reflection of its superiority, but this is false. It is simply a reflection of the lack of any existing patent and the ease at which this platform type can be reproduced.
Despite the emergence of different technologies, since the original Pivotal machine Galileo, and the original Lineal machine NEMES, there has not been any significant change to the way vibration is delivered to a user. The reason for such a large number of different terms used to describe platform types is mainly due to manufacturers hoping to convince the consumer their method of vibration is unique.
Basics of Vibration – Platform Construction and Engineering
Now that we’ve discussed the two primary types of vibration platforms and how they came to be, one other thing that needs to be discussed is the way in which these platforms are constructed and engineered and how this influences the quality and ultimately, the benefits provided by the platform. This topic is a subject for whole other article however, so this is just “skimming the surface”.
With both Lineal and Pivotal platforms, the most important variable is whether the platform can accelerate optimally WHILE loaded. A platform’s acceleration is typically measured in “G’s” where 1G represents the acceleration due to gravity.
As with any object that vibrates, we have two factors that determine the acceleration, frequency (how fast the object moves) and amplitude (how far the object travels). If we increase either of these, the acceleration will increase. Likewise, if we decrease either of these the acceleration will decrease.
Finally, a machine which operates at a low frequency and high amplitude could potentially operate at an equal acceleration to a machine which operates at a high frequency and low amplitude.
Compared to a Lineal machine, a typical Pivotal machine will have a lower frequency but higher amplitude. Independent testing reveals that most Pivotal machines often have difficulty producing frequency, and their real frequency is often significantly less than as advertised (most platforms indicate speed levels of 20 and above when in fact they are actually running below 15 hz). When you investigate the engineering principles behind Pivotal machines, it is easy to understand why.
The motor of a Pivotal machine drives the platform directly. Therefore, loading of the platform results in a load applied to the motor directly. There are as many as 10 points where force is transferred between the motor and the platform in the drive system. A robust drive system is a key component to a quality Pivotal machine. Machines with drive systems that cannot support high forces are limited to run at lower speeds (frequency) and therefore lower acceleration.
In order to produce higher speeds, some Pivotal machines operate only at low amplitude, a setting which is not typical of Pivotal machines. In other words amplitude is compromised in order to achieve a higher frequency. Whilst such a Pivotal machine is capable of producing higher frequency, due to the lower amplitude, the acceleration output is still low. If in doubt, the safest way to properly select a vibration platform is to review independent testing of machines specifications like those found on this site.
Listed below are the primary Pivotal systems that we support. These platforms have been selected because they meet a minimum performance criteria and have been validated through independent engineering analysis.
Galileo/Vibraflex (all models) – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
Hypervibe Performance – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
Maxuvibe MX7 – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
Globus Physiowave 500 – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
Compared to a Pivotal machine, a typical Lineal machine will have a higher frequency but lower amplitude. Independent testing reveals that Lineal machines often have difficulty producing amplitude, and their actual amplitude is often significantly less than as advertised. When you study the engineering principles behind Lineal machines, it is easy to understand why.
The motors on a Lineal machine do not drive the platform directly. Therefore, loading of the platform does not result in a load applied to the motor directly. Instead, the motors drive a set of weights which throw the platform up and down via the inertia created by the weights. The inertia created by the weights have to overcome the resistance provided by the platform, isolators and a users weight, this means the amount of force produced by the motor/weight system is a key component to a quality Lineal machine. Machines with motor/weight systems that cannot produce forces to overcome the platform resistance are limited to run at lower amplitudes and therefore lower acceleration.
Generally speaking, a platform of greater mass which can generate higher forces will be less affected by the extra resistance added by a user on the platform. On the other hand, a platform with lesser mass will generally drop when loaded with the additional mass of the user. This is due to the fact that by adding a users body mass to the platform of lesser mass, means a greater percentage of mass added to the platform, than vs the platform of greater mass if adding the same user. For this reason, heavier steel platforms typically outperform the small plastic platforms. If in doubt, the safest way to properly select a vibration platform is to review independent testing of machines specifications like those found on this site.
Listed below are the primary Lineal systems that we support. These platforms have been selected because they meet a minimum performance criteria and have been validated through independent engineering analysis.
Vibrogym Professional – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
Vibrogym Evolution – VERIFIED (medium acceleration)
Globus Physioplate Gold – VERIFIED (high acceleration)
DKN XG10 – VERIFIED (medium acceleration)
Itonic Freemotion –VERIFIED (medium acceleration)
Powerplate Pro 5 –VERIFIED (medium acceleration)
The platforms listed above comprise the vast majority of the platforms supported on this forum. In the next part of this article where we discuss the research, there are several additional platforms mentioned that we support based on the fact that they have demonstrated through clinical research to be able to provide one or more benefit(s). They are few in number as you will see because, not surprisingly, most of the verified platforms are also behind the majority of the research.
In general, until a manufacturer has allowed their platform to be verified or is able to demonstrate through research that their platform provides benefit, we cannot support them and neither should you.
So…what does the research tell us? Stay tuned for part III to find out.
*This section along with section III was written with the assistance of Mr. Murray Seaton. I would also like to thank Murray and Sasha Marvin for taking the time to perform such precise engineering tests on the platforms listed above.