Negative-ion bracelets, scalar energy bracelets, titanium sports necklaces… the list goes on. They all claim something similar – to enhance your performance by hacking the chemical elements or your body’s energy balance. They can also improve your flexibility, calm your mind, reduce cellular inflammation, etc.
At the rate technology is advancing, in the context of these power bands at least, we’d be superhumans soon!
How exactly do these bracelets work, and do they actually work? We decided to dig a little deeper to see whether science backs up these nifty little energy-boosting bands.
What These Devices Claim to Do
“Reduce joint pain”
“Improve your mood and mental outlook”
“Boost your immunity”
“Increase your muscle efficiency”
“Give you better aim”
And many more.
For the past years, professional athletes (including our dearest Datuk Lee Chong Wei) have been donning these products and that very quickly led the the widespread popularity of pendants, necklaces, wristbands that claim to relieve stiffness and boost your performance by emitting negative ions, manipulating magnetic fields, or harnessing the power of quantum physics.
Can They Really Do It?
It depends on what your definition of “do it” is. From a purely scientific point of view, these energy bands, necklaces, or pendants are beyond the scope of studies (meaning no study has ever been done that supports these claims, or in plain words, they are not supported by real science).
Let’s take a look at some performance studies conducted on some of these products.
A team of exercise scientists from the University of Wisconsin conducted a double-blinded test on 42 volunteers using one of these products called the Power Balance bracelet, and also a placebo (regular rubber bracelet). After crunching the numbers, they found that there was no significant difference in flexibility, balance, strength or vertical jump height between the Power Balance and placebo bracelets .
There’s also the fact that small magnetic fields simply don’t affect your health. Some products claim that by exposing your body to magnetic fields produced by these magnets (like a pendant or bracelet etc) can benefit your health. However, the magnets used in these products are simply too weak to have any measurable effect .
Also if your body can be affected by the weak magnets used in magnetic bands etc, then the stronger magnetic fields used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) would probably cause some serious problems, which it doesn’t .
How about those Quantum pendants you see people wearing a couple of years ago? Apart from them not having any scientific evidence of working, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board conducted tests on these pendants and found that the radiation dose rate is higher than what is permitted for the public. 
Power Balance bands were also quite the popular devices which claim to give you better flexibility and balance. When put to the test by health and kinesiology researchers at the University of Texas, the Power Balance bands “did not have an effect on strength, flexibility, or balance.” 
If we were to dig around longer, there’ll be plenty more evidence of how these bands don’t work. But if they’ve been proven not to work, how come so many people swear by them?
Three Simple Words – The Placebo Effect
Start by watching this video made by doctors showing you the tricks used to sell the idea that these bands work:
You can see how convincing it can actually be, if you don’t know the real science behind it. People who wear these performance-enhancing accessories truly believe that they work, and the power of the mind is amazing.
“The athlete believes they are getting a boost or pop from the necklace… The athlete goes out thinking ‘I’m invincible’ and going to play much better and respond accordingly. It tells you that your brain has a whole lot to do with performance…,” said Dr Lehmen, a doctor who treats professional and amateur athletes from his office in the United States. 
Research has shown that people can benefit from the placebo effect [7, 8]. So, to some extent, these do work, but only because you believe they do. So if you don’t mind paying for an overpriced accessory that does nothing except make you believe that it works, by all means, go for it. Just remember to check if it can negatively affect your health or not first. Remember, a healthy dose of skepticism is always good.