Everyday athletes are always looking for ways to give themselves that slight advantage over their competitors. In recent years, performance bracelets have been the craze. So much so, that even non-athletes are wearing these bracelets, with the hope that it will give them more strength, better flexibility, improved balance and overall better health. I’m sure you are all aware of these bracelets, which come in various colours, oftentimes have holograms on them and are usually being sold in sporting good store or at kiosks in the mall. Manufactures claim that the holograms help with regulating the body’s energy flow.
Bottom line…These bracelet manufactures have made millions of dollars selling these products by using the power of marketing and placebo. Typically, vendors will use a balance test to demonstrate the power behind the bracelet. They will start by asking you to stand on one leg without the bracelet on while they nudge you in different directions to see how much balance you have. They repeat the same exercise with the bracelet on and are quick to point out how much more stability and balance you have with the bracelet. Although the manufactures would like you to believe that the bracelet gave you this new found strength, science shows us, that is not the case.
Researchers have used similar tests in their experiments, comparing the results between participants with the real bracelet and others with a “fake” or imitation. The results of the study showed that regardless if you wore the “real deal” or a “sham” bracelet, both groups improved during the second test. The reason for the improvement the second time around is part placebo and part body awareness. Our bodies are able to adjust to stresses very quickly, hence knowing what is going to happen the second time around, your body is more prepared and hence responds better. Placebo in this case, is basically the power of the mind, convincing you that since all these professional athletes swear by these bracelets then they must work.
For what it’s worth, my opinion is, if you’re looking for an advantage over the competition or ways to be healthier; train harder, eat better and stress less.
1- Can the Power Balance® bracelet improve balance, flexibility, strength, and power?
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2011) 10, 230-231
2- CBC News Health – Power Band bracelets ‘a scam’ professor says
Company admits there’s no science to support its claims