‘Grounded’ in fact or ‘Phiten’ for cred?

On Sunday I noticed a friend of mine — and not the type you’d expect — was wearing something unexpected around his wrist.

It was one of those energy-enhancing bracelets made popular by professional athletes like soccer star David Beckham, Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom, Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and pro surfer Andy Irons.

He swears there’s something to these hologram bracelets — in this case, the ones produced by Grounded — that help his balance and energy level.

And he’s not the kind of guy you’d expect to believe in these sorts of things. In fact, he doesn’t even believe he believes in it!

He showed us the test: you clasps your hands behind you and have someone push down on them. You will naturally lose your balance. But if you wear one of these bracelets — either wrist — you don’t fall over as easily.

I’ve long wondered about these energy-enhancing and health-promoting accessories. I have friends who swear by the Japanese brand Phiten, for example, which the company says regulates and balances the flow of energy throughout your body to help alleviate discomfort, speed recovery and counteract fatigue by restoring the body’s natural healing powers.

And I know folks who can’t live without their Power Balance bracelets, which features a hologram that optimizes the body’s natural energy flow.

Sounds hokey?

Well, sales for these accessories have tripled in the U.S. since 2001, according to research group SportsOneSource. Phiten alone reported global sales topping $200 million last year.

And these companies produce more than just bracelets. There are T-shirts, belts, socks, patches, even dog gear that tout the benefits of holograms and titanium technology.

Holistic solution — or outright scam?

“This is utter nonsense,” said Steven Nissen, head of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic to Bloomberg. “There’s absolutely no scientific reason why this would work. Unfortunately, we’ve not done a good job as a society in keeping people from selling snake oil.”

So what’s the allure? Why are so many professional athletes touting these accessories as a way to improve balance and combat fatigue? And do they really work?


To read all of Cat’s blogs, visit www.nonstophonolulu.com/thedailydish. Follow Cat on Twitter @thedailydish or send her an e-mail at cat@nonstophonolulu.com.

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