Turns out that one of the manufacturers of the “Bionic Band” has unintentionally outed it as being a $0.22 piece of silicone. If you haven’t seen the “Bionic Band” or the multitude of “power enhancing” silicon bands in stores, mall kiosks, and online, it is basically snake oil that salesmen are pushing as a miracle cure for all sorts of ailments.
Unfortunately for the sales rep, one of the wholesale manufacturers posted a picture online of a set of bands they produced. Check out SpeedyWristbands.com Wristband Pricing (look under “Deboss-Fill Wristbands”, here’s a direct link to the image and a mirror). Purchased in quantities, you can get them for $0.70/piece for a lot of 100, or as low as $0.22/piece for 20,000. These currently sell for $29.95 on the BionicBand website (see here or mirror here).
Unfortunately, there are a lot of gullible people who are wowed by demonstrations such as these:
Here’s a list of these silicon balance bands that are in the Top 20 Best Selling Wristbands on Amazon.com:
1. Power Balance-The Original Performance Wristband
4. Power Balance Silicone Wristband Bracelet LARGE (Black with White Letters)
6. Power Balance Bracelet Black/White Letters size: MEDIUM
7. Power Balance Silicone Wristband Bracelet (Color:clear; Size: M)
10. Power Balance, Small, White/Black
11. Power Balance Wristband Balance Bracelet 100% Surgical Grade Silicone (White/Black lettering) size Medium
14. Original Power Balance Silicone Bracelet Navy Blue size Medium
15. Trion Active Wristband
16. Power Balance, Small, Red/White
17. PB, Large, Clear/White
19. Power Balance Bracelet Wristband Pink w/ White Lettering, Size Small
20. Trion:Z Flex Wristband
The interesting thing to note is the monopoly Power Balance has on the “stability band” market, at least on Amazon.com, with 10 of the top 20 wristbands (which also includes some legitimate wristbands as well). However, even though Power Balance appears to have a monopoly, Bionic Band is available, with “3D technology”, the ever-essential “hologram discs”, and, of course, velcro. Heck, even your dog can get a Bionic Band!
Unfortunately, there are no scientific studies confirming any of the claims these silicon wristband producers make (seriously, check scholar.google.com and find one for me…). But I have found a peer-reviewed journal article and a few conference presentations that provide evidence disproving their efficacy:
Pothier, D. D., Thiel, G., Khoo, S. G., Dillon, W. A., Sulway, S., & Rutka, J. A. (2012). Efficacy of the Power Balance Silicone Wristband: a single-blind, randomized, triple placebo-controlled study. Journal of Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery, 41(3), 153-159.
INTRODUCTION: The Power Balance Silicone Wristband (Power Balance LLC, Laguna Niguel, CA) (power balance band; PBB) consists of a silicone wristband, incorporating two holograms, which is meant to confer improvements in balance on the wearer. Despite its popularity, the PBB has become somewhat controversial, with a number of articles being published in the news media regarding its efficacy. The PBB has not been formally evaluated but remains popular, largely based on anecdotal evidence. This study subjectively and objectively measured the effects of the PBB on balance in normal participants.
METHODS: A prospective, single-blind, randomized, triple placebo-controlled crossover study was undertaken. Twenty participants underwent measurement using the modified Test of Sensory Interaction on Balance (mCTSIB) and gave subjective feedback (visual analogue scale [VAS]) for each of four band conditions: no band, a silicone band, a deactivated PBB, and the PBB. Participants acted as their own controls.
RESULTS: The mean of the four mCTSIB conditions (eyes open and closed on both firm and compliant surfaces) was calculated. This mean value and condition 4 of the mCTSIB were compared between band conditions using path length (PL) and root mean square (RMS) as outcome measures. No significant differences were found between band conditions for PL (p = .91 and p = .94, respectively) and RMS (p = .85 and p = .96, respectively). VASs also showed no difference between bands (p = .25).
CONCLUSION: The PBB appears to have no effect on mCTSIB or VAS measurements of balance.
Joseph, C., Furness, T., Buttifant, D., & Naughton, G. (2012). Effect of performance jewelry on balance of elite Australian rules footballers and healthy young adults. 30th International Conference on Biomechanics in Sports, Melbourne, Australia.
The purpose of this study was to test efficacy of a wrist band to improve static balance in an unstable environment using elite Australian Rules Football (AFL) players and healthy young adults. Thirty-five healthy young adults (AFL n=15, Female n=12, male n=8) were exposed to various static balance tasks using the Biodex Balance System®. The participants’ ability to maintain static balance was quantified in degrees of deviation from stability for the left and right limb; following a random allocation to three conditions of testing (1) use of a Power Balance® wrist band, (2) a placebo wrist band, and, (3) a control condition. There was no effect of wrist band on static balance within and across the participants (p >0.05). The results of this study do not support efficacy of the Power Balance® wrist band to acutely improve balance of healthy young adults.
Perales, D., Smith, J. D., and Kendrick, K. H. (2012). Effect of the negative ion band on athletic performance. International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Abstract Submissions, 2 (4), Article 63.
Negative Ion bands have been suggested to increase various areas of athletic performance. At this time, the authors are not aware of any studies on these bands.
Purpose: To determine if a True Power Energy Band (True Power LLC, Melrose, MA) had an effect on various measures of performance.
Methods: Forty-one subjects (age = 29.3±7.1 yrs, ht = 171.5±9.7 cm, wt = 85.4±23.2 kg) had their height and weight measured and were then randomized to wear the True Power band (TB) or a silver bracelet placebo band (PB) (Hobby Lobby). After 5 days, subjects were assessed on reaction time using a color response test and a response test in which the subject clicked a highlighted dot as it appeared in a 5×5 table (www.intelligencetest.com/reflex/index). The subjects then performed a standard balance test (stork test) without shoes, two flexibility tests (V-sit-and-reach & trunk rotation), and two strength tests (hand grip using a dynamometer & push-ups to exhaustion). The tests were conducted in this order with as much rest between trials as needed. One week later, this same procedure was followed but with the opposing band. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine if differences exist between the bands, with Alpha set at .05.
Results: There were no significant differences in the tests of color (TB = 0.43±0.14, PB = 0.41±0.11 sec), dots (TB = 16.9±3.0, PB = 17.0±2.6 score), stork (TB = 4.4±3.4, PB = 4.7±4.1 sec), V-sit-and-reach (TB = 15.2±16.8, PB = 15.5±17.3 cm), trunk rotation (TB = 35.8±15.0, PB = 37.3±14.0 cm), hand grip (TB = 42.4±12.1, PB = 42.8±11.0 kg), and push-ups (TB = 23.4±10.5, PB = 25.8±11.7 total), p > .05 for all tests.
Conclusion: There seems to be no effect of Negative Ion bands on tests of reaction time, balance, flexibility, or muscular strength. The claims of performance in these types of bands have yet to be validated.
Some manufacturers claim these silicon bands release negative ions, alpha waves, and far-infrared waves “to counteract the negative effects of [radio waves, televisions, and smoking]” and will help you sleep, increase oxygen to the brain, and cope with arthritis (their claims, not mine.):
But until I see a peer-reviewed scientific study providing evidence to support their claims, I’ll have to side with these guys: