Archive for Research

Power Balance Bracelet Conclusion

Last year I wrote about the Power Balance Bracelet here and here.  Since then I’ve heard people knock it and I’ve seen people (some very good friends of mine) wearing it so I’ve basically just kept my mouth shut waiting for what usually happens when something is a scam – of course the proverbial poo hitting the fan etc etc, and of course it did.

In Australia the Power Balance people had to publish on their website that:  “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims”, and they had to offer refunds to anyone who wanted their money back.

In LA a class-action was brought against Power Balance Bracelet and in Italy they had to pay a 300 000 Euro fine for false advertising.  Of course this is all probably just a drop in the ocean when you look at the profits they must have made off of this.  In South Africa the bracelet cost R500 and a leading sports store said that it was the best selleing item they had.

So what about those who DID feel something?

This isn’t to say that they are lying or all delusional – the Placebo effect is comes into play here.  This is the theory that if you just believe something works, you will feel the effects, so really what the Power Balance Bracelet is, is a lucky charm.  What I’m saying is that if you feel like it works for you then wear it.  If however you don’t really feel anything except the effects of not wearing your lucky knickers then bring those babies back into action, at the end of the day you must do whatever you feel works, just be a little more discerning when it comes to what people have to say about products which apparently have super powers…

Running Super Powers

Power Balance Bracelet Comments

Last week I wrote about my thoughts on the Power Balance Bracelet and I asked you guys what your take was on it.  These are the responses I got:

Gideon Maree (Pilates Instructor and Sports Masseuse)

Via Facebook: “One of my clients started wearing one of those bracelets about 2 weeks ago. During his Pilates sessions his balance was not any different. His first two days of wearing the bracelet he feelt very lightheaded,  after which it cleared up. This could be the bracelet or just being lightheaded for 2 days. I wont take the risk and hope it’s not the bracelet.”

Catherine Parker (Marathon Runner)

Via Twitter: “A new toy for boys”

Melvyn Quan (Iron Man Participant and Trail Runner)

Facebook: Sent this video which is on ESPN (the first couple seconds are an advert but the rest is very interesting)

Erik Vermeulen (Athlete & Behaviour Expert)

Twitter: He sent the same link as Melvyn.

Interesting that I got no comments FOR the bracelet – anyone out there who really believes in it?

Running Shoe Laces

Recently running shoe laces have become an issue in my life (albeit a relatively small one) because what I thought were ‘Never come undone laces’ are in fact ‘Will come undone if you do not double knot laces’.  Then I discovered that in fact many runners actually have a special way of lacing their running shoes to achieve different things – some need an extra snug fit, some tie their laces in a way to avoid a pressure spot on the top of their foot and some are just superstitious about the way their shoes are laced and have been doing it the same way since they started running.

I’m not sure if any of you have had the unfortunate experience of running on a treadmill full-tilt, trying not to get too sweaty and hoping like hell that your butt isn’t wobbling too much, when your ‘Never come undone laces’ decide to, well come undone…  It gets rather tricky trying to stop the treadmill while at the same time trying not to trip yourself all the while reminding your legs to keep moving so as not to be spat off the back of the machine – of course I’m speaking from experience which is what led me to do some research on the matter.

I found this very interesting article done in the Runners World, complete with little video’s and everything so if you, like me, are having issues with your laces then I hope this helps.  My lacing tactic usually involves just leaving the laces as they come when I buy the shoes, what do you guys do???


Barefoot Running Research

I have spoken about running barefoot before, and the fact that I consciously try and alternate my running style from landing on my heel (as you normally run with shoes on) and running on my toes or forefoot (as you would naturally run barefoot).  So, I was quite pleased to find this video on YouTube which documents research which was done at Harvard University, on just this subject…  Have a look and let me know your take on this.

Drinking Water while Running…

On Wednesday I was invited to an event at the Sports Science Institute as a thank-you for the research project I took part in during the Comrades.  Tim Noakes was one of the speakers and he had some very interesting things to say about the theory that says if you drink too much water, it leaches your system of all the electrolytes,  basically putting your body  in great danger.

Now I’ve always believed this theory – I never knew where it came from and I guess I just believed it because it sounded pretty logical to me, however Prof Noakes explained using his research findings and a very clever slide show – that this theory had absolutely no scientific grounding and was really just part of a marketing ploy hatched by Gatorade and its scientists (who just happened to be the same scientists who advised the US Army on liquid consumption and what the daily recommended allowances should be).

I’m totally simplifying many years worth of work here but it was fascinating to see how a theory can develop and become ‘common knowledge’ without anyone even questioning it.  Prof Nokes went on to say that the human body is incredibly clever at making sure there is balance  – the balance of water and salt being very important for runners performance – or so we thought…

Science has proven that it is virtually impossible to leach the body of salt, our bodies are constantly trying to get rid of the salt we consume (in excess) so this is something we don’t need to worry about.

He also pointed out that our bodies evolved in such a way that conserving water is something which it does exceptionally well – so if your body realises it is going to be exercising for long periods of time without any water, it recalculates to make sure that there WILL be enough by curbing urination and sweating – the bottom line being, drink when you are thirsty, not according to some ‘rule’.

Prof Noakes concluded by saying that the only thing which plays a role in enhancing performance, is carb intake  – so as long as you are consuming enough carbohydrate to keep your energy levels up, you shouldn’t have to worry about water.

Makes you think a bit about the other ‘theories’ which we believe when it comes to long distance running, doesn’t it…

waterPhoto Credit

Comrades Study Follow-up

During the Comrades this year I took part in a study done by the Sports Science Institute which involved trying to figure out what the main factors were in causing heat stroke.  Before the race I had to swallow a temperature tablet and then carry about 1kg of equipment with me on the race including a little computer to record my core as well as skin temperatures.  I also had to give urine and blood samples before and after the race as well as all the usual VO2 max test and fat composition which was done a few weeks prior to that – so as you can tell these guys were pretty serious about getting the information they needed.

As ‘payment’ for doing the study we were promised a full write-up on what our results showed – which I got a few weeks ago.  I was a little disappointed in that the report wasn’t really what I was expecting.  It had our results and then what the norm is with regards to body fat, VO2 max and fitness – but when it came to the really interesting stuff like my body temperature in relation to my heart rate and hydration levels, all I got was a graph…

I’ve included the graphs below, if anyone would like to take a stab at exactly what they mean then please give me a shout.  The only other information I really found useful was that I could improve on my VO2 max result and strive for less body fat…

Heart Rate

Heart Rate over the duration of the race

Core Temperature over the duration of the race

Core Temperature over the duration of the race

Beetroot Juice

I found this article titled “Beetroot Juice Boosts Stamina” which is a summary of  a study done on the benefits of drinking beetroot juice for people involved in sport…  yip, sounded pretty random to me too but apparently the high concentration of nitrates in beetroot actually increased the performance of the group involved with the study.

Have a read and let me know what you think…

Photo Credit


Running, Recovery and Milk

I came across a study the other day that suggested chocolate milk is just as good as , if not better than the sports recovery drinks us runners consume after a race or hard training, to help repair our damaged muscles.

I don’t know about you guys but I really battle to get the Peptopro (the make of recovery drink I use and is apparently a pre-digested milk protein – although tastes nothing like milk) down my throat, and keep it down, especially after a long race when you aren’ t feeling your best as it is – so as you can imagine, this article sparked my interest.


According to a team at the James Madison University in Virginia, USA – they found that muscle damage was lower in football players who were given chocolate milk pre and post intensive training, compared with their team mates who just drank commercial products.

If this is true then I’m definately going to consider making the change from bile tasting post-race drinks to yummy chocolate milk!!

Photo Credit