We received this email message from Linda R:

Subject: "Differences between Surge of Chi Exerciser Mk4 and Chi Vitalizer"

Message: "I am trying to decide between these two machines and need help understanding the difference."

This was our reply:

Hello Linda,
These 2 products share the same motor and swing movement but The Surge of Chi Exerciser Mk 4 has the following added features:

  • Far Infra Red heating incorporated in the leg cradle (used optionally)
  • Vibration Massage incorporated in the leg cradle (used optionally)
  • Variable speed control with broad speed range (80-160 rpm)compared with the slightly more limited speed range of the Chi Vitalizer/ Vitality Swing (90-150 rpm)
  • The hand control module has an LCD screen and more precise speed controls, with several advanced technical features incorporated in the hand set including:

    • More precise control of speed in increments of 1 – for example, 80, 81, 82 etc - which you can check on the hand control's LCD screen
    • Digital timer to set session time at 5, 10 or 15 minutes, with real-time display - decrementing 1 minute at a time on the screen as time of session passes – for example, 15, 14, 13 etc
    • Easy to control while in use, and easy to check on the speed and time status at any time
    • Auto-modes with 3 pre-programmed 15-minute sessions, speed changes gradually and automatically:

      • Auto 1 mode changes both swing speed and vibration frequency 12 times per minute – lots of variation of swing speed between 83 and 119 and 9 levels of vibration frequency
      • Auto 2 mode changes both swing speed and vibration frequency 4 times per minute, and is more relaxing than Auto 1
      • Auto 3 mode is just for vibration and infra-red – the cradle does not swing. The vibration frequency changes 4 times per minute.

On the other hand, The Chi Vitalizer/Vitality Swing has a simple hand set with a dial for changing speed and a 15-minute cut-off.

Ankle Cradle, Ankle Rest, Leg Cradle or what?

Distributors of the original Sun Ancon Chi Machine usually describe the cradle which swings from side to side as an "ankle cradle" or "ankle rest". This may have come from the tradition of therapies such as Shiatsu (a series of traditional Japanese massage techniques) where the therapist swings the feet by holding your ankles.

It may seem natural to place your ankles on the cradle, but we have noticed that this can place unnecessary strain on the knees. As the knees are suspended without direct support, they will tend to drop and even hyper-extend for people with knee problems. This is because the ankles are flexible joints that will not give as much firm and steady support as the area of the lower calves, just above the ankle joint. For this reason we recommend that you have your ankles slightly beyond the cradle so that the calves are properly supported.

For anyone with knee problems or a tendency for hyper-extension of the knees, we also strongly recommend that you use a bolster, pillow or similar firm support under the thighs. This will prevent the natural tendency for the knees to drop if the legs are not fully supported above and below.

So that's why on this website we always use the term "Leg Cradle".

Aren't Machines a bit unnatural?

We get lots of people with back problems asking whether chi exercise machines are effective. Some of them are a bit hesitant about using a ‘machine’ to help with something as delicate as the human spine. Recently we received a message from Richard Millard, who is behind the Surge of Chi and FlexxiCore Passive Exercisers which are our top-selling products. He shared with us this email exchange with a customer whose wife was “very wary of something mechanical”. Here it is:

On 29 January 2015 at 12:08, Chris wrote:

Hi Richard,

I spoke to my wife about the Surge of Chi machine, and am wondering if you have any information about it in Japanese.  She has had a lot of success through Seitai in curing a chronic back and neck condition, and, though interested (because I am), is very wary of something mechanical.



On 29 January 2015 at 17:35, Richard Millard wrote:

Hi Chris

You can tell your wife that I personally got into using the product as a result of years of back problems, and using it for 10 mins. every morning has meant I've had no recurrences of those problems* in 10 years. I understand the feeling that machines can't 'do it' naturally - however in this case the machine is simply swinging the feet and it's the body's natural response to that which gives the benefits - there is no manipulation or targeted effects, so in a sense it's an even more “natural” effect than what can be achieved with many therapies and exercise disciplines. And we always insist that it is not to be treated as a substitute for traditional exercise - though there's no doubt it's very convenient for busy people to have more 'bang for you buck' per minute, which is effectively what it provides.

*On the other hand I had a condition diagnosed as 'bordering on frozen shoulder' a couple of years ago - resulting from too much laptop touch pad use after getting RSI from mouse work. I could not lift my left arm above my shoulder or stretch it without intense pain, and I needed treatment from an osteopath. The combination of her treatment with the 'softening and kneading' effect you can introduce with a bit of intention while using the FlexxiCore helped me get over it completely. By focusing on an area you want to self-treat during a session, you can use some ‘soft-focus’ intention to give a gentle massage effect to that area. Every day now I get a release in that shoulder area as well as the pelvis during the short session of simple stretches I do at the end of my early morning 10 minutes on the FlexxiCore. 

You can do some very helpful exercise / stretch positions during and after a FlexxiCore session - I talk very simply about a few of these in this "Getting Started" video 

I have demonstrated the FlexxiCore to 3 of my QiGong teachers and they were impressed - 2 of them are currently looking at using it with a group of Multiple Sclerosis patients they work with.

So all in all, I don't think there is any real 'contraindication' for a seitai fan - in fact the whole principle comes out of Japan's knowledge of the benefits of kingyo undo - see why-the-goldfish? – an article on this very informative website.

Ultimately experience tells.

Hope that helps....


The Fuzz Speech

Most people who use a chi exercise machine find the experience is really enjoyable. It's not just a chore that you have to do because it's something you think you ought to do. Some things we do simply because we've been told it's good for our health - but we don't really enjoy them while it's happening.

So it's great to discover a really good explanation of why using your chi machine every day IS fundamentally VERY good for your health.

This amazing video from Gil Hedley shows him working with a cadaver - that's right, a dead human body - and no chi machine in sight...!

But I think you'll understand from what he shows just how it is essential to give your body plenty of chance to enjoy movement throughout all the muscle groups in your body, and the fascia between them.

And if you're not sure what fascia is and how it works (and why it's so important to keep it moving freely), this is the best possible and most graphic explanation I've ever seen.