Scare Tactics: Preying on the Inexperienced Consumer
Written by Gabriel Ettenson, MS, PT
As someone who uses Vibration Training technology in both a Physiotherapy clinic with patients and a Vibration Training studio with fitness/wellness clients, I have a preference for Pivotal technology. The reasons for this are the subject of an entirely different article and let me make it clear that it is not my intention with this article to engage in a lineal vs pivotal debate. In fact, I believe that they both have a solid role to play in the growth of the industry.
What I hope to do here is address the rising number of scare tactics being used to dissuade individuals from purchasing a pivotal vibration platform. Often just desperate attempts by shady salesman to deceive inexperienced and often desperate individuals, it has become equally amusing and concerning to observe the increasing lengths these people are going to in order to make a sale.
Let’s look at the most common scare tactics and discuss why they are not only nonsensical, but just serve to emphasize the fact that these people know very little about both the human body and their own product.
Claim #1 – “Pivotal motion causes dangerous shearing forces on the joints!”
First off, have a look at the human skeleton (http://www.chiff.com/health/skeleton.htm). Notice the way the femur (upper leg bone) angles inward as it goes from the pelvis to the knee. Notice the way the upper end of the femur bone (the head and neck) angles at almost 45 degrees as it enters the pelvis socket? Look at the subtle angles of both the lower leg bone (tibia) and the ankle bone (talus). Does anything look absolutely vertical to you? If your response is no then you can understand that a small amount of horizontal shearing is an absolutely normal part of human motion.
It is only when these shearing forces become excessive, either in their force or degree of movement (often linked together) that they become dangerous. Up until that point one could argue that they may actually be beneficial for the health of the joints as they provide mechanical stimulation to the cartilage and ligaments as well as assistance in helping pump the vital fluid (synovial) that helps nourish and lubricate the joints.
While a pivotal platform does move like a teeter totter and creates a combination of horizontal and vertical forces on the body, there is only a minimal amount of motion that occurs horizontally. This therefore makes the horizontal impact of a pivotal platform no more dangerous than that of walking. Imagine being told that walking is dangerous? About as ridiculous as this claim!
Claim #2 – “High acceleration levels are dangerous!”
This one certainly sounds scary and if we were made of solid wood, it would be true. However, we are not made of wood, but rather an incredibly complex matrix of connective tissue supported by a skeletal frame. For this reason, the forces related to higher platform acceleration levels are absorbed throughout our body in an extremely safe manner.
Need more convincing? Look at the research. In the past 15+ years, the majority of research (especially those studies dealing with children, seniors, spinal cord injury and other severely impaired individuals) has been done with the Galileo platform; one of the highest acceleration platforms on the market. If it was shattering bones, we’d know about it! In fact, the irony of all this is that this platform was actually built for the purpose of increasing bone density.
This claim is nothing more than an effort by salesmen to steer the consumer away from seeing the inferiority of the product they are selling as well as it’s inability to perform at the level of the researched platforms.
Claim #3 – “Pivotal platforms are for therapeutic purposes only”
While the therapeutic applications of pivotal, in my opinion, do outweigh those of lineal, the majority of research on the influence of WBV on muscle force and muscle power (true determinants of sports performance, fitness, and athleticism) was done using the Galileo, a pivotal platform. In fact, some of these studies are the most highly advertised on both pivotal and lineal manufacturer’s website.
While lineal platforms have also been shown to create “training” effects, it is time to put this fictitious differentiation to rest.
Claim #4 – “Lineal is better for moving lymph. You cannot use Pivotal for this!”
This is a recent addition to the collection and, once again, not only has no evidence to support it, but doesn’t even make sense. The lymphatic system is a series of vessels that have one-way valves. As our muscles contract and relax when we move, the lymphatic fluid moves through these vessels. So in order to move lymph, we require muscle contraction. Any proper platform, when used correctly will result in muscle contractions throughout the upper and lower body. Therefore, this effect can theoretically be achieved with both pivotal and lineal systems. Having that been said, if you really want to get specific, from a theoretical standpoint, because pivotal mimics normal human movement (reciprocating motion), it MAY be more influential on normal lymphatic movement. That is not supported by research however so it is just food for thought.
Claim #5 – “Higher frequencies are better! It means more muscle contractions!”
Another seemingly obvious statement. Makes total sense right? If I can contract 45x per minute rather than 25x, that means 120 more muscle contractions per minute. The pounds will melt away!
Let’s hold on a second though and try to understand what we CURRENTLY know about the nervous system better. The unique mechanisms by which vibration training works involves the “stretch reflex”. This involuntary, reflexive mechanism by which the platform rapidly stretches and contracts our muscles (the same as when the doctor hits your knee with a hammer), has been shown to take 40-50 milliseconds to occur.
If this is correct, the reflex may only be able to “keep up” with a platform moving 20-25 hz. Anything after that may be “extra” and not create any additional muscle activity at all. I will admit that I think this is a bit of a generalization, but where is the evidence that muscles can respond reflexively up to 45Hz?
Until we can show this clinically, we cannot state that higher frequencies are better.
Claim #6 – “Pivotal platforms emit dangerous electromagnetic fields (EMF’s)!”
While I will admit that I believe that high exposure to EMF’s can cause certain health risks, there just isn’t enough concrete data to tell use how much is too much. Between computers, cell phones, wi-fi, local power lines etc., it is unlikely that brief exposure to the EMF’s created by a vibration platform can cause any additional harm. Outside of that, there is no testing that has been done to date to describe the differences from one platform to another. Unless we have more concrete evidence to support this claim, it just doesn’t carry any weight.
At the end of the day, the health benefits of using a PROPER vibration platform far exceed the health risks of brief exposure to the EMF’s generated by the machine while being used.
Claim #7 – “Low fq’s of pivotal platforms are dangerous for the internal organs!”
In an online search, I came across only a handful of websites describing the frequencies of the internal organs. Needless to say, they were quite inconsistent with a range of anywhere from 4hz to 220hz. Furthermore, they appeared to describe both the frequency of the movement of the organ as well as it proposed vibrational frequency on an atomic scale.
Much like the EMF tactic, I do not believe that there is enough evidence out there to support this claim. Once again, I will also point out that there have yet to be adverse effects reported in any research completed over the past 15 years; especially organ damage!
Don’t believe the hype!
In the coming years, I anticipate more and more scare tactics will be fabricated to deceive the consumer. We will be watching closely. If you should hear anything that just doesn’t sound right, let us know. Until then…don’t believe the hype!