“Balance” Wristbands,Bracelets and Sports Necklaces are a Scam

Save Your Money!

The only “magical properties” behind the technologies they use are in the marketing and in the way they get you to plunk down $40-$100 or more to promise pain relief, better balance or improved recovery and performance.

By David Dansereau  for know-stroke.org

balance-necklace-scam
Save Your Money

Although this is not a new product, I needed to drop you a line about how this scam may now be used on stroke survivors.  I received a call last week from a stroke survivor who had been “pitched” one of these bracelets to help improve his balance.  He was apparently at a golf expo and the salesman promised him he could prove it would work for him.  See the test and the scam unveiled below, but first, what is in these things?

A look at the” Magic ” healing potion inside the bracelet shown:

The scientific power in question and shown in this picture is called the Phiten necklace. It is a fabric-covered PVC rubber cord that apparently contains powdered titanium. The purported effects of wearing the necklace are increased energy, better balance and blood flow, reduced muscle pain, and improved  joint mobility. I went to the vendors website and couldn’t find a single scientific study to back these claims, but with a little digging I did find a class action lawsuit against the company.

Here’s the test :

They have a brown paper carrier bag or enclosed container that contains a brick shaped object concealed inside.  They ask you to stand, extend your arm and then they place the bag in your hand, causing you to quickly respond to the weight and essentially “setting you up” to fall off balance.  You then put the bag down, and they drape the “magic” necklace or wristband across your arm and place the bag in your hand again.  It’s supposed to be easier with the necklace on your body.   The real reason the victim may feel a difference however, has more to to with something called “the order effect” which I’ll try to explain here:  
When a person tries to pick up an object the brain makes a rough guess as to how much strength it’s going to require. With an unrecognizable object concealed in a bag, we have no idea how much it’s going to weigh. The contents of the bag are actually quite heavy, and most people are likely to underestimate the effort required. The test with the necklace draped over the arm is always the second attempt, by which time our brain has recalculated and knows exactly how much effort is required. Hence it seems much easier to lift and the connection is made that the necklace gave you new powers, or improved strength and balance.

With further investigation, here’s three things which may logically explain why people were “stronger” in post-tests after putting on the magic bracelets or necklaces:

  • Order effect (explained above and reviewed here with another example)
  • Placebo effect
  • Applied Kinesiology
Order Effect

Research explains that the “Order Effect” may in part be the reason why some people become stronger or more flexible. The Order Effect claims that on the second or latter attempts, people get more familiar with an activity. People therefore can prepare better and can learn how to surpass the previous feat. Note that  tests almost always start without the “magic” wrist band, necklace or pendant. The “magic” product is given to you only on the second try, but since you already know what you’re supposed to do, you tend to outdo your previous performance.

Another example: you’ve probably done the exercise where you bend your body forward and you try to touch the floor with your fingers without your knees bending. At first you won’t be able to reach the floor, but after trying it for the second or third time, you’ll be closer and even be able to touch the floor- that’s the Order Effect.

Placebo Effect

The second reason why the body tests seem to be successful may be due to the Placebo Effect, defined by Wikipedia as “the tendency of any medication or treatment to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes that it will work.” That’s regardless whether the medicine or treatment has already been proven scientifically to be effective.  Want to believe in “magic” or just have a lucky (expensive) charm?  Then these  wrist bands and necklaces can produce the same thing. As long as people believe they are real, the placebo can take effect.

Applied Kinesiology

The most plausible explanation why the scam “proof” body tests appear “amazingly” successful is simply the use of Applied Kinesiology, or the use of manual muscle-strength testing for medical diagnosis.

Watch the video below for an example of how this  “magic” is done:

In the Endurance body test, a person is asked to stand with one leg up and arms fully stretched sidewards. In the first test (without the magic wrist band in this case), the pressure applied to the arm is directed outside the person’s center of gravity, as if the person is being pulled away. Naturally, the person falls off balance.

On the second attempt of the same test — now with the person holding the “magic” wrist band — the arm is being pressed down towards the body, meaning, the direction of the pressure is towards the person’s center of gravity. Now, even without any special gadget or anything, the person won’t fall even though more pressure is applied.

Bottom Line:

Always look at the science to explain why things work.  Even though these “magic” products are no more than perhaps lucky charms, they are expensive.  I take particular offense when a snake oil salesman looks on a stroke survivor, observes a deficit, and promises and “instant” cure.  I looked at only one product here, but there are others all with their own “magic powers”. Power Balance wrist bands, EFX bracelets, and Scalar Pendants are some of the other names, and I would only venture to guess that they all make similar claims, with the same bottom line, they do not work.

[Personal Sidebar] Many pro athletes that our kids all admire and want to copy are donning these bands and “cool” necklaces, and the NBA, MLB and other pro teams are now endorsing them to match their team colors.  So despite the pseudo science,   all these brands continue to sell their expensive products even though some have even admitted that real science does not come into play in any of their claims.

by David Dansereau for know-stroke.org

Here’s a video to watch on YouTube  that shows the “magic” :

References:

http://www.classaction.org/phiten-necklaces-and-bracelets.html

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