Power Balance bands don’t live up to claims

Redshirt sophomore Jason Hampton, left fielder and pitcher, wears a
Power Balance band.

Redshirt sophomore Jason Hampton, left fielder and pitcher, wears a Power Balance band.

Daniel Morales

The Power Balance bracelets have caused quite a stir in the past year after research showed the bracelets do not give athletes an edge in performance.

The bracelets are said to improve one’s strength, balance and flexibility. It uses holographic technology that supposedly affects the athlete’s natural energy field. The company has been criticized in Europe and in the United States because of its misleading advertisements and pseudo-scientific claims.

Many top professional athletes in football and basketball sports sponsor or have been seen wearing the bracelets. Athletes like Chicago Bulls Most Valuable Player point guard Derrick Rose, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant all wear the bands.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin performed a study on a group of NCAA athletes. The conditions were to give one set of athletes a placebo bracelet and the other set the Power Balance bracelet. The tests studied to see if there was an increase in balance, flexibility and strength after the athletes switched bracelets. Each set of athletes performed the series of tests twice, one with the placebo and the other with the real bracelet. The results revealed there was virtually no difference in performance between the two sets of athletes wearing either bracelet.

Dr. Kristofer Chaffin of Folsom’s Chiropractor Center said there is no scientific evidence proving the bracelets work and  that it resembles old healing techniques.

“These bands are very similar to magnetic healing the ancient Chinese used a long time ago,” Chaffin said. “Many athletes have used magnetic healing in the form of blankets, bed mattresses and in their shoes.”

However, some of our own Sacramento State athletes wear them for reasons other than it “increasing” athletic ability.

“I mainly wear it because I’m superstitious. I have been wearing one for the last two years,” said All-American defensive lineman Zack Nash. “The first time I wore them I thought I was super balanced.”

Junior infielder for the Sac State baseball team Jason Hampton said he second-guessed the bracelets actually working to improve performance and he wore them merely for fashion.

“I never believed it worked,” Hampton said. “I have always worn one, thought it looked cool.”

 Nash said he would wear the bracelets, regardless of whether they worked.

“It would be nice if it were true, but I would wear them anyways,” Nash said.

The bracelets are based upon the idea of magnetic therapy, which is a non-medical treatment for discomfort. Its main uses are for treating pain throughout the body, such as headaches, muscle and ankle strains and joint pain.

Chaffin said he also wears a bracelet.

“I wear one because I believe they help to balance electromagnetic energy,” Chaffin said. “I do not believe they help you jump higher or run faster or any other claims some people make.”

Being the chiropractor for the Sacramento Kings, Chaffin said a few Kings players wear the Power Balance bracelets. For example, former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, forward Jason Thompson, and last year’s first-round pick DeMarcus Cousins all wear one.

Chaffin said the bands are trendy and make the public think they perform better.

“They give people a placebo effect, which is no big deal. (The) good news is they do not cause any harm,” Chaffin said. “Many people take prescription drugs (backed up by scientific evidence), yet there are numerous negative effects to the prescription drug.”

The company admitted to making false claims about its product. Power Balance was obligated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to make a public statement in the Australian media.

“We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims,” the company said earlier this year.

Some consumers are now suing the company for its fraudulent claims that the bracelets improve one’s balance and flexibility.

Daniel Morales can be reached at [email protected].