August 17, 2012
I've been getting lots of questions lately about a black wristband I've been sporting on my wrist for the past couple months. It looks like this:
I race with it, sleep with it, eat with it, and have generally been bringing it to hell and back in my training sessions, just to see if I notice any difference when I'm wearing it.
You may have even seen me mention it in this ultimate healthy travel video.
But unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably seen stuff like this before – marketed as “Power Bracelets”, “Hologram Bracelets”, “Magnet Bracelets”, “Performance Jewelry”, and the list goes on and on.
And if you go to health, fitness or triathlon expos, you've no doubt been hounded by wristband salespersons eagerly attempting to conduct muscle tests on you to verify that their magical wristband is going to turn you into some kind of a superhero, including claims that they are:
-Engineered to release Negative Ions, Far Infra-red Rays and Alpha Waves.
-Engineered to absorb static electricity in the body and restore the Ying-Yang balance.
-Employ an Alternating North-South Polarity Orientation system, comprised of twin 1,000 gauss magnets to maximize magnetic field flow.
-Contains Neodymium magnets (aka rare earth magnets) – the most powerful magnets known to science.
-Made with Titanium to relax your spirit, muscles and increase your motor function.
-Uses holographic technology that contains algorithms and frequencies that interact positively with your energy field.
-Employs Sympathetic Resonance Technology (aka “SRT”) that influence biological, electrical, chemical and other physical systems.
-Uses a holographic disc that stimulates an energetic response in the body's acupuncture points, biofield and meridians.
But do power bracelets and performance wristbands really work, or is it all just marketing hype?
Here are the basic power bracelets that you can find on the market today. I've tried most of them at various fitness expos and health events, been through the whole muscle testing rigamarole, and haven't really noticed much of a difference. But more on that later…here's a quick run-down:
Claim: EFX's holographic technology contains algorithms and frequencies that interact positively with this energy field in both humans and animals at the cellular level. When placed near the body, especially at key energy centers such as the hands and feet, EFX's products will harmonize with the body's naturally occurring bioelectric frequencies.
Youthwaters Ion Bracelet/IonLoop/TrionZ/Q-Ray
Claim: These products contain the combined technologies of ‘magnets' and ‘negative ions'. The magnets use alternating North-South Polarity Orientation working to maximize the magnetic field flow in the body. The negative ion technology attracts beneficial negative ions (AKA “the good guys”) to be absorbed into the body to counteract harmful effects of positive ions.
Website(s): http://www.youthwater.com, http://www.ionloop.com, http://www.trionz.com/, http://www.qray.com
Claim: Based on the idea of optimizing the body's natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance which manufacturers say is “programmed” through an undisclosed process is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.
Claim: Sympathetic Resonance Technology (SRT) is in all Q-Link products, which is based on the fundamental scientific discovery that every physical system has fields of energy that permeate and surround that system. SRT is an array of proprietary identified frequencies that support and enhance the efficiency and performance of various organic and inorganic systems. Biological, electrical, chemical and other physical systems influenced by SRT applications exhibit increased functionality, coherence, structural integrity and other positive characteristics and benefits.
Claim: World leader in communicating with the body using holograms. Like a computer disc or music disc, information is stored on each hologram using cutting edge technology. When the hologram is applied to your body or clothing, it enters your body’s energy, or biofield. The energy field becomes the carrier wave for the accessed information to stimulate an acupressure point, just as needles would do in acupuncture.
Claim: The core of Phiten technology apparently something called “Aqua Metals” – metals that are broken down into microscopic particles dispersed in water. Their website directs the user to “The Society Of Aquametal Research”, where it is shown that cells derived from rat skeletal muscles show increased attachment, spread, adhesion strength, proliferation, gene expression, and collagen production when grown on a special titanium structure. But to my knowledge, the bracelet isn't actually embedded into your body for your muscles to grow on.
“It's Not About Science, It's About Faith”
As you can see, unless you have a degree in physics, especially quantum physics, it's not an easy task to figure out how half of these bracelets actually work, since the range of products come under a cloud of slightly woo-woo scientific terminology that seeks to persuade you that their specific approach is either: A) individual to them or B) superior to other competitors waving the same tech flag.
And while any of these bracelets refer to scientific research related to the field of technology in which their product purports to operate, most do not produce any 3rd party clinical tests or double-blind studies conducted on their products to back up their claims.
Interestingly, independent research has been performed on at least one of the brands that I listed above, the Power Bracelet. In the ESPN video below, the results of that research are beautifully summed up.
So basically, while researchers concluded that the bands worked no better than the placebo, some people still may experience a benefit because of a mentally perceived boost. So even if the technology behind the jewelry does not work, the bracelet itself may create a placebo effect that could positively impact your performance.
Even more interestingly (just so that you don't think this article just ruined that effect for you) research has shown that people can benefit from the placebo effect even if they know it’s a placebo!
So if believing in a bracelet is what it takes for you to bring out your best performance, then go for it. It could be just what you need to take things to the next level, or maybe just to sleep better or get sick less.
So What The Heck Have I Personally Been Wearing?
The wristband that I've been sporting for the past 60 days doesn't really have any of the technology that I've listed so far in this article. It simply houses a constantly vibrating piezoelectric ceramic disc.
You also can't get it anywhere because I had it special made just for me so that I could test the pants off it, so neener-neener.
OK, so what does “piezoelectric” mean?
Basically, piezoelectricity is the ability of certain materials to create electrical potential when responding to mechanical changes. I'll show you a couple videos below that do a good job of explaining piezoelectricity, but basically, when compressed or expanded or otherwise changing shape, a piezoelectric material will output some voltage.
This piezoelectric effect can also happen in reverse – meaning that putting a charge through the material will result in it changing shape or undergoing some mechanical stress.
As you'll see in the videos below, piezoelectricity is used to make motors, reduce vibrations in sensitive environments, and (relevant to putting a piezoelectric disc into a wristband), it can be used as an energy collector.
To understand piezoelectricity, here's a couple videos:
What Is Piezoelectricity? Part 1:
What Is Piezoelectricity? Part 2:
As you can see, some of the most obvious applications of piezoelectric materials for energy collection are personal energy generators that could potentially be powerful enough to power phones, MP3 players, etc.
So for example, the sole of your shoe could be constructed of piezoelectric materials and in that case, every step you took would begin to generate electricity. This electricity could then be stored in a battery or used immediately in a personal electronics device.
In the case of the wristband I've been wearing (which I first discovered as a necklace, but got made into a bracelet because necklaces suck when you're exercising), the piezoelectric ceramic disc is pre-programmed with about 100 different sound frequencies.
There is no battery in my wristband, but the stored frequencies are amplified by the wave signals that emanate from motion as I'm walking, running or jumping (and interestingly, can even be amplified by the frequency of my beating heart – which is very cool if you've every studied the heart-brain connection).
So basically, anything I do (from breathing to moving) amplifies these frequencies and brings my body into a state of cohesion.
I know that this stuff can get a bit tricky to understand, but to grasp the role that vibrational waves or frequencies play for optimum performance, you could listen to my podcast with Dr. Jeffrey Thompson (“How You Can Use Sound And Music To Change Your Brain Waves With Laser Accuracy And Achieve Huge Focus And Performance Gains”), in which we talk about brainwave entrainment and sound frequency patterns that can trigger numerous health benefits, as well as improve the body's efficiency when performing.
Anyways, the ultimate effect is that I feel more “springy” during my workouts, I sleep better, I'm in a better mood and (blush) I even have better sex.
There, I said it. The piezoelectric thing works for me, so now I'm working on seeing if I can get it studied to find out why, and I'm also working on making it available into an actual product that you can buy.
And yes, I'm bracing for the rotten-tomato throwing charlatan accusations. That's the risk I take when I test stuff out, find that it works, and try to get it into the hands, or this case onto the wrists, of people who care about their bodies or performance, or people who like to geek out their health with stuff like this.
There's a second component to the piezeoelectric wristband that I'm wearing – basically some special drops that you add to your water. Yeah, yeah, I know. Too much information, so I'll stop now.
But next week, I'll fill you in on exactly what the water does for the piezoelectric bracelet, and for now, you could listen to my interview with Dr. Gerald Pollack, entitled “Is All Water The Same?”. That will help you understand that follow-up article on the how the water part fits in when I release that article next week.
Now it's your turn.
Do you wear a power bracelet, or anything like it?
Do you have questions about whether power bracelets or performance wristbands actually work?
Or do you just think I'm a charlatan nerd?
Leave your feedback and comments below…and I'll apologize in advance if there's a delay in my response because I'm going to be completely unplugged and way up in the mountains of Montana catching fish from icy cold lakes for the next couple days.