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Paige Waehner

Exercise Gear to Avoid: The Power Balance Bracelet

By March 25, 2011

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Can a special bracelet enhance your athletic performance? That's what the makers of the Power Balance Bracelet suggest, noting a variety of high profile athletes who swear by it. But, what is it and how does it work?

That part remains a bit of a mystery. If you read through the FAQs at their website, they suggest that the thin polyester film hologram in the bracelet "reacts differently for each person" and that it was designed to "mimic Eastern philosophies that have been around for hundreds of years." Whatever that means.

Even the Power Balance Test video on the site is mysterious. They take three different athletes through balance and strength tests before they wear the bracelet...but where's the after? After some controversy over their product, maybe they edited that part out.

If you're thinking about it, you might want to check out ACE's latest study, Power Balance or Power of Persuasion? In the study, scientists from the University of Wisconsin and La Crosse Exercise and Health Program studied 42 college-aged athletes, about half men and half women. They took the participants through the same tests used on the Power Balance website and found that there was "no significant difference in flexibility, balance, strength or vertical-jump height between the Power Balance and placebo trials."

I guess it's back to the old exercise drawing board if we want to get fit.

What do you think? Have you tried a bracelet like this or do you know someone who has? Why do we still fall for these kinds of things? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

Comments
March 25, 2011 at 8:58 am
(1) kitchenwench says:

According to P.T. Barnum there is a fool born every minute. Some people will never accept that there are no short-cuts to a lot of things in life. You have to put in the time and the work to get fit. End of story! -Get Serious!!

March 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm
(2) scout09 says:

Amen to that, kitchenwench.

March 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm
(3) BR says:

I have used a PB since Jan 2010 and I do feel different without it when I am working out or not. Different to me = better. The words that come to mind are focused, crisp, alert, and calm.

I initially had one on for two weeks and then offered it to a buddy (Canadian Ironman finisher) and asked him to give it a try. I didn’t notice anything different. I saw him two weeks later and we both had noticed the PB in different ways. I had been without it for two weeks and I felt less focused when I rode and I wanted it back. He in turn immediately noticed an increase in clarity and focus while in the deepest minutes of his normal 8 -10 mile daily run. He would not return the PB so I got another one and have not worked out without one since.

I have been offered several since then and I pass them out to friends and it’s a mixed bag. About half of them say it made no noticeable difference and the other half say that they sensed a better feeling or a stronger focus.

I even gave one to my 10 yr old son and within a few hours he was acting a bit differently. He was more stern and less patient with his little brother and a bit more serious than usual. We joked about the PB and within 2 days my wife took it away and he became less intense. He only wanted one because I had one and but it was a strange and unwelcome response.

I don’t blame the doubters but one notion of your article implies that people may need something like this to get them to work out? It’s been my experience that people that enjoy working out need very little encouragement. If people bought a PB to help them get motivated to work out then they would absolutely not feel a difference.

I don’t work for PB and I am not a paid rep for them. I have been a 3,000-8,000 mile per year cyclist for 31 years. I ride 4-6 days per week year-round as a commuter and recreational rider (Mt & road) This product increases my focus and I feel sharper when I wear it during a workout.

March 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm
(4) Tracy says:

Instead of a bracelet, buy a yoga mat and do some yoga. Or, don’t bother with the mat and just get on the ground and do some yoga. Then you get the same benefits for free.

March 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm
(5) Jim says:

I believe that should have been “University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, Exercise and Health Program ” not “University of Wisconsin and La Crosse Exercise and Health Program “

March 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm
(6) Dan says:

The Power Balance Bracelet, when used together with the Hula Chair, can produce fantastic results.

I read that somewhere.

March 25, 2011 at 9:08 pm
(7) bh021552 says:

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the placebo effect proven. There are probably cheaper placebos than the Power Bracelet, as long as you believe (on some level) that they will help you.

March 26, 2011 at 1:19 am
(8) Fitness fan says:

If I thought for a second these Power Balance Bracelets actually did anything, well they do, they line the pockets of some entrepreneur with somebody’s hard-earned cash. These bracelets do what? – enhance balance and performance during exercise? Excuse me; I thought the whole point of exercise is to improve physical performance and balance; not use an artificial device to give you the false sense of better fitness. It looks to me like riding a bicycle with training wheels permanently mounted – if the bracelet even really worked – what’s the point?

And what happened to the feeling of self-empowerment from your workout driven by your dedication and effort; not from some frivolous doodad hanging on your wrist?

They’ve at least dropped in price from $29.95 to around $3 and up, for those who insist on a healthy dose of smoke and magic to bolster their self-confidence.

March 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm
(9) Wendy H says:

My group of grassroots skeptics, Independent Investigations Group, conducted a scientific, double blinded test of Power Balance bracelets on a group of 16 volunteers. The results indicate that the bracelets did nothing to enhance the skills of the athletes, including a former Olympic gymnast, for balance, flexibility and strength.
Please see our website http://www.iigwest.org/
It includes a link to send a message to the FTC about the product. Power Balance has repeatedly watered down their claims since there have been class action lawsuits against the company, and since their claims were found to be exaggerated in Australia, and they have had to offer refunds to Australian purchasers.

March 27, 2011 at 11:38 am
(10) Loring says:

NICE going Wendy!! Need to be more people like you out there weeding out the snake oil salesman. And for those of you who the bracelet works for, I have some special socks that will make you run faster…or make your butt look better….or something like that…

WHEN will people stop spending money on that junk??!!

March 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm
(11) Mike says:

I realize that the mechanism behind these devices is dubious, but I tried one of these bracelets at the Show of Strength in Dallas, TX, and I immediately felt more stable, and I had much better balance when standing on 1 foot. Power of Persuasion? Maybe, but the effect was real.

I do have to add, however, that the person selling the bracelet couldn’t explain how it worked. I think there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding the human body, I just wish the mechanism behind these novel devices could be explained.

March 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm
(12) Connie says:

My father suffers from Parkinson and is very unstable when he walks. He was having horrible falls and hurting himself a couple of times a week. He started wearing a PB bracelet about a year ago and has had only one fall and the fall wasn’t from getting off balance. The fall was due to tripping over a wire. Along with my father, I do believe in the PB Bracelets because of results he has had and he would never take it off.

March 31, 2011 at 10:07 am
(13) WB says:

Thanks for this review, Paige! I think these are excellent placebos and should work well for all conditions that are affected by the placebo effect. Actually, there are many conditions where if you believe something works, it stimulates the brain to produce the chemicals it was lacking that caused the original problem. I’m actually jealous of those who are less skeptical because of that.

April 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm
(14) Jason says:

Your right WB. I believe in harnessing the power of placebo. As long as the theory is believable, that works for me. How much money do we spend on artificial chemicals and supplements that may do more harm than good? I would rather use my own body’s pharmacy.

April 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm
(15) Fred K (small Biz owner) says:

Point, the “placebo” effect is real, can be measured, can be marketed and sold, and works… the makers of the “roll-on” products “Head-on” comes to mind, admit, when you google deep into their information that what they market works, only because many people “believe”… Religion, anyone ? Another Point, always keep in mind where there is a buck to be made and there are many sides to the issue there is a profit motive for the “marketeer” to provide a “rebuttal”, ie paid “impartial” comments on this and other sites.. Trip Adviser is a good example, if the review is so glowing it’s off the top it probably was written by an ad agency for the hotel/restaurant itself, if it’s so negative you wonder how they stay in business, it was written by an ad agency for the competition… The internet is the wild west of verbiage, always best taken with a grain of salt.

April 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm
(16) Deano M says:

I have these special glasses that make blind people see.

April 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm
(17) Joanne Striegler says:

I get “took” easily and have tried two of these life changing bracelets. I never felt a thing. And just a question – why do they all tell you to wear it with the “magic” part turned outwards instead of lying on the skin where it would be in close contact with a part of you that is making these wonderful changes?

April 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm
(18) mo jo says:

take a piece of #10 copper wire shape it in to a bracelet &
really believe in it & it will work also

April 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm
(19) Christine says:

ok…I bought one. Fell victim to the before and after demo. Honestly, I don’t feel anything when I wear it and I teach 8 fitness classes a week. Live and learn.

April 5, 2011 at 10:57 am
(20) tony says:

A sucker born every minute is right…amazing what we can trick the mind to believe.

April 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm
(21) Joanne Striegler says:

Yep, it sure does line the pockets of whoever invented this thing. I tried the one at Walmart the “I” something or other and the Power Balance and neither one worked. Of course I knew it wouldn’t. Then why did you, you ask?!! I thought that maybe, just maybe it just might do something. Geez, what a waste of $20!! :(
Joanne

April 17, 2011 at 12:45 pm
(22) Dave says:

The difficulty in believing the effectiveness of these bracelets is the absence of information they provide. Once you understand how they work, it explains why they work. I believe the technology is very similar (and perhaps the same) as the BionicBand. The BionicBand uses a holographic image with sound frequency – and the two in combination allow the band to hold an indefinte frequency of 7.9Hz, or the like. If you understand the principles of sympathetic resonance, or entrainment, you can easily understand why these bracelets work.

April 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm
(23) mr. ham says:

I don’t know what you all are talking about. The power bracelet is the best invention of man…besides religion of course..but that’s neither her nor there. The point is these things are great. What is wrong with someone wearing something that makes them believe they are more fit, flexible, and durable? My own opinion….you all are jealous you didn’t come up with the idea first. I know i am…but i do have plans for a toe ring that improves your running, jumping, and relieves pressure from your foot. It’s going to be the next big thing….just wait and see…

April 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm
(24) CC says:

I have no problem with the fact that placebos can work for people.. as long as you know that that’s all it is.
I have a bracelet i wear when i train, it is made of cotton rope with a plastic charm that says “believe.” It reminds me to believe in myself and i really do think i train better when i have it on. The only difference between this and a power balance bracelet is it cost me $1.50 and the money went to a charity not to some random company with false claims. And also i can wear it when i compete because it doesn’t have a brand name on it…

May 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm
(25) Mike Oliver says:

The crap that Power Balance has pulled is unbelievable. Even in Australia they made them give refunds and apologies to customers who were duped.

On the other hand, there is technology and minerals that truly can make you feel better, Power Balance just isn’t using them for cost reasons (assuming). Not to sound promotional, but LifeStrength Balance Bracelets are a product that actually incorporates ionic technology within the band. I’m not exactly sure how it’s inserted in the silicone, but they don’t make claims and they have some proof to back up everything.

Back to the story, shame on you Power Balance for making claims to people and duping them out of $30.

August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am
(26) The Fons says:

What gets me is that everyone is worried about what other people choose to spend their money on. If it makes you feel good or better, or makes you think that you will be better then have at it. Good for you if you purchase it, good for you if you do not. But for most people to make fun of people that do decide to spend their hard earned money on products like this, why does it bother them? (Rhetorical Question by the way)
I will say this, I cannot get mad at any company that comes up with an idea that millions of people are willing to purchase.

September 7, 2011 at 2:13 am
(27) S says:

Some friends of ours bought Energy Armor bracelets a month or so ago, and claim that it has made quite a difference for them. She can make a fist now, which she couldn’t do for years because the joints in her hands were so painful and stiff. Also they don’t sleep until 10 am like they used to and they awake refreshed with much more energy. I wish I could say the same. I bought Power Gear Bands (because they were cheaper, claimed to have the highest negative ions, and have a money-back guarantee) a couple of weeks ago and WE haven’t noticed anything different yet. I have read a lot of comments on the internet about these and they are not all created equal! I found some that are 85 cents apiece and I’m sure THEY are useless. There have been tests done and most bands don’t have enough negative ions to do anything. I also read that Power Balance mistakenly sent a defective shipment to Australia, which is the cause of all the court activity there, but I don’t know about that. It appears to me that some bands ARE effective for some people, at least, and maybe not just as a placebo.

September 7, 2011 at 9:18 am
(28) shrief says:

ok some ppl r saying that its all crap and some says that it actually working,i bought one of this pb and i was very doubtfull first <but i felt really good,try it

May 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm
(29) RJC71 says:

the power bracelet is a mind game..if your 500 feet in the air you feel safer if someone says their a net under you..same thing here..if people think this will help them..it will psychalogically they will feel more powerful and confident

December 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm
(30) CAnderson says:

BR, you’re either an idiot or you work for the company…

Mike = Idiot

Shrief = idiot

Mr. Ham = idiot

Connie = touching, but still an idiot.

Anyone who believes in this deserves to have their money taken. Period.

July 17, 2013 at 12:07 am
(31) Maria says:

All of you that do not believe in these bracelets, pendants , etc, to make a long story short, they have a small amount of radiation (gamma rays) that actually work in the human energy field in different ways. Yes, some people feel it and some do not. I have been skeptical of sooo many things all my life, but I made my research about this thing, trying to prove a friend wrong. I have one and I do not feel anything other that more resistance when working out. But I know people that after wearing the bracelet for some minutes have felt dizzy. We are all different and the fact that you do not feel anything with the product, does not mean others can´t feel it. For the record, I do not sell the product.

August 26, 2013 at 9:13 pm
(32) Tim says:

Wow. Definitely a hot topic.
Thanks for thorough post!

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