Gustav Zander (1835 – 1920), a gymnast, physician, and inventor from Sweden, developed never-before-seen apparatus in the 1800’s that used springs, weights, and pulley systems to create over 70 machines that were used for therapeutic exercise. Many of his machines utilized vibration. Zander popularized his exercise machines by traveling to World Fairs and by founding early forms of modern day health clubs.
In 1895, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes- the one with the Corn Flakes) was the next inventor to utilize vibration technology for health and wellness. Aside from coming up with Corn Flakes, Dr. Kellogg claimed his Michigan-made vibrating chair was a magic pill that cured any ailment you can imagine.
The Germans picked up on the health and wellness benefits that vibration technology offered in the 1960’s by developing an exercise technique called rhythmic neuromuscular stimulation.
Then the Russians moved vibration technology forward for good in the 1960’s. The space race between the Russians from Eastern Europe and the United States from the west fueled research and development of all kinds of new products. The Soviets quickly realized that being exposed to 0 gravity conditions in outer space caused severe deterioration of bone mineral density and muscle tissue. The concept of humans living with the constant force of Earth’s gravity is where the theory behind WBV originated.
The Russian space program used Whole Body Vibration as a way to simulate weight bearing loads for their cosmonauts while training and rehabbing before, during, and after trips in outer space. Introducing WBV in 0 gravity conditions was something that worked to simulate the forces of gravity when there wasn’t any. Cosmonauts used WBV machines to maintain bone mineral density and muscle strength. Instead of being too weak to walk upon returning from orbit, the Russian cosmonauts were returning from space in almost the same condition as when they left.
Ever wonder why the Russians were so dominant in the Olympics during the 1980’s. You guessed it…their athletes were using WBV regularly in training and rehabilitation programs.
German Universities continued their own research on the effects of WBV. An enormous amount of studies were done on a variety of effects on the body, such as WBV and Osteoporosis, Developing muscle mass, Improving balance and Circulation, Rehabilitation for injuries, Weight loss, and the like.
Fast forward to the 2000’s. The technology behind WBV was proven and had been accepted in Europe for years. The 2000’s are when I began to see several WBV manufacturers attempt to penetrate the mainstream U.S. market. They were primarily targeting fitness institutions and professional sports teams with big machines that were priced in excess of $10,000. These companies were starting to get a small following but struggled to establish a significant marketplace because very few Americans knew about WBV or what it was used for. Millions of dollars were spent on advertising, but they pitched it mainly as an exercise and weight loss solution.
It seemed peculiar that these companies were only focusing on such a small piece of what the machines were capable of doing. WBV has such a wide range of applications and is capable of doing so much, why shortchange it like that? And why charge $10,000- $15,000 for this great equipment? I knew that at those prices the average consumer could never afford access to this great technology. Additionally, since many of these larger units were developed to help professional athletes, many of these large units proved too powerful for the average user.
More and more people were becoming aware of the technology but were not able to spend big bucks to get their hands on it until now. Many WBV companies have popped up in the U.S. market over the last few years but consumers must be cautious.
Not all WBV companies are the same. Not all WBV equipment is built the same. I encourage curious consumers to do their homework and learn about the various forms of WBV technology and find out what makes sense for them.
I believe that Whole Body Vibration is a safe, fast, effective, and affordable way for overwhelmed people can work out in less time. Take the time to talk with the people at different companies if you’re considering investing in a unit. Once you do choose to incorporate WBV into your life, I’m sure you’ll be glad you did!
Dr. Christian H. Reichardt, DC, CCSP, ([email protected]) has been a practicing doctor of chiropractic since 1983. He was a disability evaluator for the State of California, but then turned his attention from work-related injuries to sports injuries due to his own involvement in sports. Dr. Reichardt has been using Whole Body Vibration technology for the past 15 years and is an owner and President of PowerVibe LLC – a leading company in quality yet affordable Whole Body Vibration equipment in the United States. Check out PowerVibe at https://www.powervibeusa.com
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