Amplitude of vibration of WBV machines
Vibration machines are meant to vibrate. And any vibration, be it for these machines or for anywhere else on earth, is measured by two key parameters - vibration amplitude and vibration frequency. The amplitude of vibration of your machine will play a critical role in determining the goodness of vibration quality that your body gets exposed to.
The typical amplitude of vibration that individuals tend to take ranges between 1 mm to 14 mm. Given a frequency, a higher amplitude will impart a higher effect on your body. Practically though, any vibration amplitude over 10 mm becomes hard on the body, and especially the bones, joints and muscles. So unless you are looking to do body building, you would not want to vibrate at an amplitude higher than 10 mm.
Even 10 mm vibration amplitude will create a significant impact on the body. So if you are looking for lymph drainage or detox, it is a good idea to keep the vibration amplitude lower than that. With a tri-planar and a spiral vibration machine, in which the motion will be a mix of two (pivotal and oscillating in case of spiral, and pivotal and linear in case of tri-planar), you would want to keep the amplitude at 5-8 mm to keep it comfortable for your body. At this range, by standing and moving your legs further apart (increasing the gap between your legs), you can enjoy heavier exercises as your session matures. For a senior citizen with not too strong a body frame, standing on the machine at 5-6 mm amplitude vibration with the feet parted at 3-4 inches will be significant enough as exercise.
However, if you are doing muscle or body building, weight loss or working on creating high bone density as desirable for a budding athlete, you would want to go for a linear vibration machine, or a tri-planar machine. With a tri-planar machine, over multiple steps and using sufficient discretion, got all the way up to 12-14 mm vibration. For extreme exercises, spread your legs far apart so that the distance between your feet is maximized. That will be the heaviest form of exercises, and will give you the best results.
For linear machines, though, the maximum vibration amplitude is often not more than 6 mm, as it moves only in one direction (up and down). Also, on some of the good quality tri-planar machines, there are setting by which you can easily specify the difficulty level that you want the machine to vibrate with, and the machine will offer vibration amplitudes accordingly. I highly recommend you start with a low vibration amplitude and increase over many steps, so that your body can keep adjusting to it gradually rather than being forced to take all the shock at one go. This will help your muscles, bones and joints by preparing them to keep moving higher.
In summary, amplitude range is really critical to your overall WBV exercise process, among with a few other factors like vibration type (motion), frequency and g-force to name a few. When you get a machine, make sure that the vibration amplitudes are clearly specified, and the weight capacity is also given. The machine needs to be powerful enough to produce the said vibration amplitude with weights that you would be vibrating with (your body weight, and, for body builders, any weight that you may want to lift for added exercises while on the vibration machine).
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