Power Balance Band – Does It Work?

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Over the weekend in Noosa there was a massive triathlon expo with all sorts of gadgets that make those early adopter triathletes giddy with joy.  The Mass Suit, Mighty Grip, Carbon Fiber wetsuits, headband headphones, Shimano Di2, etc.  After I had my fun with the Mass Suit, the gadget that intrigued me the most was this Power Balance Band I’ve been seeing on all these high profile athletes.

Hologram technology with programed embedded frequencies that gives you strength, flexibility and balance. Since I had been sick all week and nearly didn’t race the Noosa criterium, I was searching for any edge I could possibly get.

The genius behind this power balance band is that the friendly folks in the expo booth engage their potential customers with a series of tests to demonstrate that it works. I have to admit, it seemed to work and it appeared I had better strength, flexibility and balance while holding the band. I even had a mate do the tests on me to make sure that it was for real. A far more convincing test would have been if they had a Wattbike there so I could test my peak power while wearing the band.

After showing off some athlete testimonials (including team Garmin-Transitions and Vinokurov) and demonstrating that the band appeared to have some effect, it was an easy sale. Textbook stuff.

I’m smart enough to know that this is complete sham, but I parted with my $60 so that I could take the Power Balance band apart and write about it. I also wore it in the crit just in case it actually did work.  This is the thing. Athletes will grasp at anything that gives them an edge. Wearing something like the Power Balance band doesn’t do any harm, so why not?  If it’s demonstrated to make you believe that you have an edge by wearing it, then you do have an edge! In high level sports, confidence and mental strength is sometimes the only thing separating first and second place.

I dissected the bracelet and there’s absolutely nothing there except for a mylar holograph held inside a rubber band. What is this mylar technology they speak of? The generic term for this material is Polyester Film or Plastic Sheet. Nothing special.

What is a hologram?  As used in the Power Balance band, this hologram is nothing but a three dimensional image (an image of their company logo in fact). Holograms work by creating an image composed of two superimposed 2-dimensional pictures of the same thing seen from different points. The only frequency being emitted from this hologram is that of the light being reflected.

Power Balance claims that a programmed frequency is embedded into the mylar hologram. When this frequency comes into contact with the magnetic field of your body, it allegedly restores it to the 7.83 hertz required.  My skeptical mind would like to know a couple things:

1. Why is my body’s electromagnetic field out of balance?  What catastrophe would ensue if I wore 20 of these things at the same time?

2. Why does this “one size fits all” solution resolve every person’s imbalances?

I like to keep an open mind on these types of things and I don’t want to conclusively say that it does not work. The Placebo effect has been scientifically demonstrated to work, and if you believe that the Power Band works, then it works. Even if the UCI put the Power Balance on the banned substance list (which they probably will) I personally wouldn’t believe that it’s anything more than a Placebo.

Did the Power Balance band help me in the Noosa Crit? It would have taken a lot more than a hologram to get me around a hot dog course against that field…