Misconceptions about Vibration Plate Machines
Common Misconceptions about Vibration Plates
Millions of vibration plates have been sold in the globally in the past few years. It is not difficult for me to draw up such a rough estimate. A couple of major OEM factories that I am familiar with each ship out about a quarter million units of vibration plates annually. There are dozens of big and small OEM factories in China making vibration plates and selling globally in various of brand names.
Millions of people consider using vibration plate be beneficial.
However, there are many misconceptions about vibration plate due to the lack of product information transparency and exaggerated marketing hype.
These misconceptions are the obstacles for this wonderful exercise equipment to get to many more people that need it.
I would like to share my insights based on my 4 year dedicated experience making and selling vibration plates.
Vibration plates are complicated machines.
Vibration plates are simple machines with mature technology. There are only two types of mechanical devices employed to create vibration or reciprocating movement. Exceptions are rare.
These two types of mechanical devices are
- Planar 4-bar device
- Eccentric wheel + spring device
These two devices have been widely used in the industry. Their mechanical mechanisms and attributes are well understood and can be easily explained.
Vibration plates are high tech products.
From modern industrial perspectives, the manufacturing process of vibration plate is relatively primitive. There is no set of industrial standards, no specialty manufacturing equipment and no automation.
Between a large factory that makes a quarter million units of vibration plate a year and a small workshop that fulfills occasional orders of a couple of thousands, the production facility setup does not have much difference. The assembly lines are all labor-intensive. The product quality heavily relies on workmanship.
Most vibration plates supplied to global market are made in OEM factories in Zhejiang Province, China. This province has well establish industrial systems and skilled labor force to make this type of products cost-effectively.
Vibeplate claims their vibration plates are made in US. It is possible and reasonable their key components are soured from China.
Although vibration plates are not high technology products, it takes good effort to make a right product, because vibration poses challenges to the machine durability, reliability, user experience and noises.
A vibration plate is not about any high tech, but about its structure design, materials and workmanship.
[Misconception 3] The parameters of vibration plate are proprietary information.
Some manufacturers do not disclose the vibration pattern, frequency and amplitude of their vibration plates.
Some even state the parameters of their vibration plates are proprietary information.
Vibration pattern, frequency and amplitude should not be proprietary and hidden from the users. Users should know these parameters in order to understand the impact of vibration and compare the experience between different vibration plate models.
Most vibration plate models are developed from open-designs that have been developed by many OEM ODM manufacturers over the past 10 years. The customizations are mainly cosmetic change, perhaps adding some accessories, a bluetooth speaker, or maybe a heating mat.
Some manufacturers add many control programs and even a cell phone app control to their vibration machines. From my experience, that just make the machine difficult to use.
There is no secret technical know-how for making a vibration plate. There are some innovative mechanical designs that are patented and therefore made public.
The efficacy of vibration plate is scientifically approved.
Well, using vibration as a treatment intervention is a science-based approach. The unique mechanical stimulation from vibration certainly influences the physiological functionality of our body systems, and potentially produce positive results for treating some medical conditions.
Scientists have observed solid evidence of health improvement results from hundreds of clinic trials using various vibration plate models.
However, due to the constrains of fund, sample size, time frame, accuracy and variables, clinical trials have not provided consistent results about the efficacy of any specific vibration equipment.
Manufacturers / sellers may promote that their vibration plate models are endorsed by medical experts. That does not mean the treatment efficacy is scientifically approved.
There is no scientifically documented procedure and dosage (treatment time, frequency and amplitude) for any vibration plate model for treating specific medical condition.
The best proof of the health benefit from vibration exercise comes from the testimonials of vast users and practitioners.
Vibration motion pattern, the more complex the better
Some vibration plate models are designed with complex motion patterns.
These models combine two or three 4-bar and/or eccentric wheel devices in one machine body to create mixed movements.
Manufacturers tend to call these models as 3D or 4D vibration machine.
There is no proof that complex motion vibration plate is more effective than simple motion vibration plate.
Scientists usually select simple motion vibration plates in their experiment trials, not complex motion models.
Simple motion vibration plates like pivotal oscillation and linear vibration plate have already had a very large user population. Their safety are well proved, and shared experiences are abundant. Simple motion machines are reliable, durable and low cost.
If you have not used vibration plate before, it may not be a good idea to hop on a complex motion type of machine.
My recommendation is to first try a pivotal oscillation or linear vibration model. After obtaining good experience from these simple motion machines, if you feel like to explore more, you may then give complex motion machine a try.
While there is no proof that complex motion vibration plates are any better for health improvement, these types of machines actually have some critical drawbacks. Certain type of motion can cause damage to your body.
Vibration plate with 180 speed levels runs faster than vibration plate with 60 speed levels.
Many vibration plate models use speed level, instead of Hz, to indicate the speed of the vibration plate, like 60 speed, 99 speed and even 180 speed.
It leads to a perception that a vibration plate that has higher speed level vibrates faster than a vibration plate has lower speed level. That is a misconception.
One manufacturer may configure their 12Hz vibration plate model with 60 speed levels, while another manufacturer may configure their same 12Hz vibration plate model with 180 speed levels. The two models actually have the same speed, but one is claimed as 60 speed, the other claimed as 180 speed.
Speed level is relative to an individual vibration plate model. There is no meaning to compare the speed levels of two different models.
Manufacturers can configure the speed level of their vibration plate arbitrarily. It is just the change of the control program.
Frequency unit Hz is the standard unit to express the speed of vibration. For a vibration plate, 12Hz means it moves up and down 12 times in a second.
It makes no sense to configure a 12Hz vibration plate to have 60 speed levels. High speed level is just a hype.
A 10 minute vibration exercise equals a 60 minute jogging
Some manufacturers/sellers advertise that a 10 minutes vibration exercise equals a 60 minute jogging or 30 minute swimming. Some manufacturers even equip their vibration plates with meters displaying calorie consumption, and come up plausible explanation by comparing the repetitive movement count between vibration exercise and jogging.
Vibration exercise and other physical exercises each serve their own purposes. They don't substitute each other. The comparison does not make sense.
Unfounded quantitative comparisons just make the statement more deceitful.
Unfortunately, deceitful statements often work well because they are designed to hit the soft spot of their audience. Some people tend to believe deceitful statements more than the facts or the real logic. Who does not like doing a 10 minutes exercise to substitute an one hour jogging.
- Jay Tang
Interpreting life science from a mechanical engineering perspective.