It’s been around for 100 years and it’s still going strong but does it do anything, at all, apart from extract hard earned dollars from user’s wallets?
As people cut back on unnecessary expense, in hard economic times, serious questions are asked about the worth of fitness training methods; gym membership, pilates, private training, and more.
A Little History
Massage for the treatment of medical ailments — to stimulate blood circulation, aid relaxation, and improve muscle tone — has always been part of the human experience. It’s probably the oldest complete therapeutic system in the world. Affecting the mind as well as the body, acting as a rejuvenator, relieving stress, and aiding in re-balancing hormones it is accepted even when some discomfort is felt in the process. Hippocrates, the physician, learned massage along with gymnastics and the practice was held in high regard among the ancient Greek and Roman physicians.
Dr. John Kellogg (of Cornflake fame) designed some of the earliest mechanical vibration massage machines. These “Vibro-Therapy” contraptions included mechanical massage beds, chairs and foot massagers and were in use in the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Michigan U.S.A., around 1895. One such device accommodated up to five persons and provided hand, foot and body massage treatments simultaneously. Vibration Therapy was heavily used up till the time of the First World War and The Depression which saw many fitness centres and gyms having to close.
Move forward to the 1960’s, hyper-gravity loading principles were used by the Russian Space Program as it looked to combat the effect of zero gravity on its cosmonauts. NASA also began using Vibration Therapy devices to help prevent the loss of bone mass in its astronauts because, although you can’t do weights in space, vibration therapy doesn’t rely on weight; it relies on energy. In the 1970’s, Russian Scientists worked with dancers, rowers and Olympic athletes and found that vibration therapy, properly used, had potential to increase strength and flexibility.
Around thirty years later commercial interest began. Vibration machines became available in studios, gyms, and beauty clinics, with home models for sale in stores and on eBay, all accompanied with hype and advertising suggesting that no matter what type of machine (plastic, steel, lightweight, see-saw or upright motion), this exercise method that gave amazing results ranging from weight-loss to achieving a six-pack in a very short time.