One of the most common questions we hear is “What’s the difference between Pivotal vibration and Lineal vibrations?”. Well, this should give you a good idea. Pivotal (seesaw or oscillation) vibration is good for fitness and therapy of the entire body, while Lineal (vertical vibration) is more focused on the lower legs. Below is a study conducted by NASA to help answer the question, “Which is better for you, Lineal vs Pivotal vibrations?” Let’s find out.
In Pivotal vibration machines, the platform you stand on tilts around a central pivot point like a see-saw. The left and right sides alternate up and down while the centre remains fixed.
You can change the amplitude or distance your feet move up and down by moving them either closer or further away from the centre. Typically, high quality Pivotal vibration machines have a total peak-to-peak Amplitude of 10mm or more at the platform’s widest point. German-made Pivotal vibration machines were the first to be used commercially and be validated scientifically.
In an attempt to compete with the successful German vibration platforms, a Dutch company created a vibration machine with a new kind of platform movement called Lineal.
A Lineal vibration platform remains horizontal at all times with the entire platform moving up and down by the same amount. Lineal vibration platforms typically have very small peak-to-peak Amplitudes ranging from 1 to 5mm.
At the time, the exact mechanism of how Whole Body Vibration works was largely unknown. Lineal vibration machines soon joined Pivotal vibration machines in scientific
experiments aimed at uncovering what was causing the benefits Pivotal Whole Body Vibration exercise had already become famous for.
To date, Pivotal vibration machines maintain a prominence in research with more research-proven benefits than Lineal vibration machines.
Stimulate Your Muscles, Not Your Eyeballs
One major limitation of Lineal platforms is that they move the whole body up and down including the head. A Pivotal platform on the other hand raises one leg at a time. As one leg goes up the pelvis tilts and the other leg goes down. This side-to-side rocking of the pelvis and lumbar spine causes most of the vibration energy to be absorbed by the time it reaches the rib cage which keeps any head movement to a minimum.
Many users who try Lineal Whole Body Vibration machines report a strong vibration occurring in the head that cannot be eliminated by changing posture.
“Lineal Caused 189% More Head Vibration”
In 2007, research funded by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute compared the effects of exercising on a Lineal machine with the same exercises performed on a Pivotal machine.
They found that in all the body postures they tested: “transmission of vibration to the head was 71 to 189% greater during vertical (Lineal) than rotational (Pivotal) vibration.” and that “rotational (Pivotal) vibration has the lowest risk of negative side effects.”
Abercromby, A., et al. Vibration Exposure and Biodynamic Responses During Whole Body Vibration Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Oct;39(10):1794-800.
Other researchers have reported the following damage caused by using low magnitude Lineal vibration:
- reduced visual-motor tracking ability (difficulty following moving objects)
- reduced visual acuity (vision becomes blurry)
Ask If A Machine Uses Lineal Vibration Before Trying It
The alternating tilting of the pelvis in Pivotal vibration is the same natural movement that occurs during walking and it prevents vertebra from being compressed. Those with bad backs and necks or prone to headaches should be cautious when trying a Lineal Whole Body Vibration machine.
Pivotal or Lineal, Which Would You Choose?
NASA Put Both Platforms To The Test; Which Produced Greater Muscle Activity?
In a 2006 study conducted by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) a leading Lineal and leading Pivotal machine were both used in the same muscle performance experiment and the results of each compared.
According to the researchers, the conditions for each platform were the same:
- Same Frequency (30Hz)
- Same Amplitude (4mm)
- Same test subjects
- Same exercises
“[Muscle] responses were significantly greater during rotational vibration (Pivotal) than vertical vibration (Lineal).”
A reason for Lineal’s poor performance in some of the Lineal scientific research is explained by understanding another limitation of Lineal machines: their inability to use large vibration amplitudes resulting in low acceleration. Learn more about acceleration.
Pivotal Stretches Muscle
Another possible explanation comes from research conducted at the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, New Zealand in 2006. It was proven that even at low output (6Hz + 3mm peak-to-peak amplitude) Pivotal Whole Body Vibration exercise causes stretching of the muscle that is associated with an immediate increase in electrical muscle activity.
To date this effect has not been demonstrated with Lineal Whole Body Vibration exercise.
So which vibration is better is up to you. If you are trying to get massage & therapy for your legs, then you should try Lineal vibration. If you have neck pain or prone to headaches, then lineal vibration is NOT for you. But if you have foot or leg problems and need therapy, then see our Lineal vibration machines below.
Lineal Vibration Machines
However, if you are looking for whole body fitness & therapy in one, then you should try Pivotal vibration. Also people who have neck pain, headaches or don’t like too much head shaking will prefer Pivotal over Lineal. Below are our pivotal vibration machines.