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Chi Machine is a passive exercise device invented by a Japanese engineer, Keiichi Ohashi, in 1988. Ohashi's invention was granted a patent by the Japanese Patent Office in 1990 The concept derives from a form of exercise for the pelvic region which is done while lying down, and which is known in Japan as "goldfish exercise".
The idea of providing a machine to swing the feet, and thus to impart a sideways oscillation of the pelvis, which is characteristic of several exercise forms traditional to Japan, such as Aikido, is said to have been the idea of a Japanese scientist Dr. Shizuo Inoue. He claimed that lack of oxygen in the body is a primary cause of diseases as attested to by numerous doctors internationally, and Nobel Prize winners Dr. Warburg and Dr. Odeuale.
The machine is a box-like device with an "ankle cradle" that moves from side to side at approximately 140 oscillations per minute. The user is instructed to lie down flat on the floor and rest their legs on top of the ankle cradle.
The original chi machine was manufactured in Japan by Skylite Corporation, but is promoted outside Japan by a group of network marketing companies owned by Hsin Ten of Taiwan (HTE) who have trademarked the term The Chi Machine. It holds US FDA approval as a Class 1 Theraputic Massager Regulation #890.5660 . It is claimed to oxygenate the body via "passive aerobic exercise", which the manufacturer claims stimulates the lymphatic system, and supposedly enables detoxification.
In June 2000, HTE Australia, a subsidiary of a manufacturer of the device, contracted with Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia to conduct clinical trials on the impact of the Sun Ancon Chi Machine on the lymphatic system. Led by Professor Neil Piller the clinical trials focused on patients with venous œdema and secondary lymphoedema. Results showed loss of fluid and a reduction in pain and swelling .
Other products adopting the same principle have been developed over the last 20 years. There is some controversy about the comparison between these products and the original Sun Ancon Chi Machine®, which is marketed by Hsin Ten Enterprise Co. Ltd of Taiwan throughout the world except for Japan. Hsin Ten's distributors claim that any variance from the unique specification of their machine will result in an unsatisfactory swinging movement that negatively affects efficacy or can even be harmful.
The most contentious claim by Hsin Ten's distributors is that the swinging speed must be about 140 +/- 5 oscillations per minute to achieve the correct response of the body. However, this claim has been undermined by the fact that the Japanese manufacturers of the original Chi Machine, Skylite Corporation, have themselves introduced an updated model in recent years, with the option of a much lower speed - 110 oscillations per minute ["RPM"]; and the fact that the original patent granted to Skylite Corporation [US patent 5,107,822] specifies a speed range of 100 to 200 RPM as being effective. Some other models made by competing manufacturers also offer various alternative speed options, including adjustable speed controls.
Moseley AL, Piller N, Esterman A, Carati C (2004). "The Sun Ancon Chi Machine Aerobic Exerciser: a new patient focused, home based therapy for people with chronic secondary leg lymphedema". Lymphology 37 (2): 53–61. PMID 15328757.
Moseley AL, Piller N, Carati C (2002). "Combined opto-electronic perometry and bioimpedance to measure objectively the effectiveness of a new treatment intervention for chronic secondary leg lymphedema". Lymphology 35 (4): 136–43. PMID 12570322.