Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ballplayers like titanium bands, but science doesn't say whether they work

Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett wears a titanium necklace. Manufacturers’ claims of health benefits aren’t backed by any research.

Getty Images

Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett wears a titanium necklace. Manufacturers’ claims of health benefits aren’t backed by any research.

Shane Scully is no big league ballplayer like Josh Beckett or Dustin Pedroia. But the 12-year-old from Tampa has something in common with the two stars from his beloved Boston Red Sox, and a growing legion of other players from Little League to the majors.

They all wear colorful titanium-laced necklaces and wristbands that the manufacturer claims may help alleviate discomfort, enhance circulation, promote relaxation, stabilize energy flow, reduce stress and soothe tension.

The company, Japan-based Phiten, touts such technologies as a "micro-titanium sphere" and an "energy transport system," which its Web site says "amplifies the energy management system increasing the efficiency of each and every single cell."

But despite hearty endorsements from the likes of Beckett and New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, and inspiring Web site testimonials from other elite athletes, there is no U.S. scientific evidence to back the claims.

"There are no studies that have looked at whether or not wearing one of these necklaces or bands has any impact or any change in one's body," said Jeff Konin, executive director for the Sports Medicine and Athletic Related Trauma Institute at the University of South Florida. Konin's view has been shared by many others in the scientific and medical communities.

But Konin says they may provide the wearer with a psychological boost, which can be a powerful thing for athletic performance.

"If somebody puts it on and they feel it's helping them, who are we to say it's not?" said Konin. "And that's okay."

That can be especially true of younger athletes, who look up to big league stars. "They're symbols of some kind," Konin said. "And when they're successful, the child looks at the way they walk, what they wear and whatever they're doing that's contributing to that success."

Phiten was founded in 1983 by Yoshihiro Hirata, a Japanese chiropractor. The company sells a variety of products, including $6 titanium discs, $15 bracelets and $47 necklaces, which are available online and at retailers including Sports Authority.

Konin considers the products harmless. He likened the titanium bands' popularity to other products such as BreatheRight nasal strips, which were marketed successfully for athletes, despite a lack of evidence or science to back the manufacturer's claims.

"If you can have celebrity endorsement, that tends to sell the product a whole lot better than any research study, whether it proves it works or not," Konin said.

Shane Scully, a seventh-grader at Davidsen Middle School in Westchase, received a Red Sox-themed titanium necklace on his 12th birthday in July, and "really hasn't taken it off since," said his father and Little League coach, Kevin Scully.

Shane, who recently added a titanium bracelet to his collection, readily admits he has no idea whether the products enhance circulation or stabilize his energy flow.

"I think it's all mental," he said. "Once you put it on you think that it helps."

Richard Martin can be reached at (727) 893-8330 or rmartin@sptimes.com.

Ballplayers like titanium bands, but science doesn't say whether they work 04/06/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2009 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.