Power Balance bracelets in placebo-controlled experiment


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


I’m embarrassed to even report on this study — but just in case there are still any Power Balance believers out there, researchers at the University of Texas at Tyler have just published a placebo-controlled, double-blind, counterbalanced test of strength, flexibility and balance, in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. They compared Power Balance bracelets to the same bracelets with the “energy flow distributing Mylar hologram” removed, and to nothing at all. And, believe it or not, they found no differences. For example:

And for all those who still swear that, when the salesman put the bracelet on their wrist, they really did do better on the balance test, it’s worth noting the University of Wisconsin pilot study (cited in the Texas paper) that found that in balance and flexibility tests like the ones used by Power Balance salespeople, you always do better the second time you try it, due to learning effects. So if you try the test first with the bracelet on, then with the bracelet off, you’ll “prove” that the energy flow actually harms your balance. (Or maybe that just means you had the bracelet on backwards…)

7 Replies to “Power Balance bracelets in placebo-controlled experiment”

  1. “Hopefully this puts the nail in the coffin.”

    I wish. If the people who believed this were the sort of people to care about science, they’d not believe it in the first place, even without this study having taken place.

  2. @Eric: Sadly, those are my thoughts exactly. It’s like explaining to someone in French why they should learn French: anyone who understands the message doesn’t need it.

Comments are closed.