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Jack Medina LogoDoes the Electromagnetic Patch Work?

 
by Jack A. Medina, M.A. and
Roy E. Vartabedian, Dr.P.H. 
In This Issue
Jack Medina Seminar Alert
Research on the Patch
Interpreting the Results
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**Jack Medina Seminar Alert**
Jack Medina will be speaking in Minnetonka and St. Paul, Minnesota, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin on April 15th, 16th, and 17th respectively. For general info, go to www.PreventionTwinCities.com. For more details, contact Leslie Chermak at 651 773-0193, or lesliechermak@msn.com.
   April 6, 2009
Jack Medina Muscles work off nerve signals. Basically, an electrochemical signal goes from your brain down to your muscles and uses it to contract. These "electric" signals cause your muscles to release calcium, which causes your muscle fibers to contract.

Recently, a company developed a patch that is supposed to use electromagnetics to enhance the signals in your muscles and improve performance. The patch's manufacturer claims that 99% of users experience a 10% increase in strength and stamina after only a few minutes of wearing the patches. The company also has unpublished studies showing 34-43% increases in muscle endurance after using the patch.

Since this does appear sensible, at least on the surface, it's important to research this hypothetical and test it scientifically. Researchers at Oklahoma State University decided to investigate whether there was any merit behind the patch.
Research on the Patch
Patch Effects The study was double-blind, meaning neither the subjects nor the scientists knew who was getting the real patches and who was getting the placebos. By the end of the study, there were no significant effects of the patch on vertical jump, grip strength, bench press endurance, torque-to-body-weight ratio, total work, average power, or average peak torque. However, the researchers did report a higher peak torque in the group on the patch. Also, the scientists reported that the gains in torque-to-body-weight ratio and average power were near significant in the patch group.
Interpreting the Results
Do these results indicate that there may be something to the patch? Not quite!  There were several limitations to the study making the results questionable.

First, the researchers did not use an appropriate method for analyzing their data. Second, the peak torque patch group started off much lower than in the placebo group. Thus, you might expect the experimental group to improve more than the placebo group. What probably happened was that the groups were not on a level playing field to start with, and they simply ended up on a level playing field at the end of the study.

Not only were there problems with the study, but there are problems with the theories behind the patch. If this patch truly improved electrochemical signals in the muscle, you would think it would have done it in the upper body, since this is where the patches were placed. Yet it was the leg performance that showed a slight improvement, which doesn't make sense.

Also, the idea behind the patch simply makes no sense when it comes to how your body works. When it comes to generating maximum strength and power, you are already maximally recruiting your muscle fibers if you are putting out maximal effort; increasing calcium release would not be of any benefit.
 
There is also a disparity between what the manufacturer says the patch does and what type of performance increases studies have reported. They have reported increases in muscular endurance, but there is no plausible way that an increase in calcium release would actually improve endurance.
 
If this patch truly improved muscle endurance by 34 to 43% as the manufacturer stated, the Olympic and professional athletes would be using it, but they are not. The ideas behind the patch are so full of holes that they can never be patched up!
 
Reference:
 
Original Research:
Jacobsen, B.H., et al.
Assessment of the Effectiveness of Nontransdermal Energy Patches on Mscle Eendurance and Power. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22:869-873, 2008. 
Best wishes for fitness and health,
     
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Author/speaker and an expert in Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at www.jackmedina.com. Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.

This article contains copyrighted material. Copies of this article may be reprinted without permission of the author only when this bi-line is included with each copy. Jack can be reached at jack@jackmedina.com