The theory that magnetic therapy could be used to enhance the lives of human beings was formulated in the early 16th century (Ramey, 1998). Since that time it has been suggested that magnetic therapy can be useful in treating many ailments, such as broken bones (Rogachefsky, 1998; Sharrard, 1990), wounds (Lee, Canady, & Doong, 1993; Man, Man, Plosker, Markov, 1997; Szor, 1998), chronic pain (Campbell, 1997; Valbona, Hazelwood & Gabor,1997), and even psychiatric disorders (Baker-Price & Persinger, 1996; George et al., 1997; Kirkcaldie, Pridmore, & Pascual-Leone, 1997). There is limited literature with regard to magnetic therapy and to athletic performance, and mostly in the form of testimonials.
During training and competition two things occur in the muscles. First, they are being torn down and damaged. If muscles are not allowed to rest, larger wounds in the muscle may occur resulting in missed training time, decreased vitality, and reduced performance. Secondly, waste products that lead to a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrition to the cells accumulate in the muscle tissue. This also leads to a breakdown in training and performance. Reportly, the constant pulsing of magnets penetrates the body, improving blood circulation that can aid in healing and stimulating metabolism that can lead to the faster removal of waste and an improvement in the cells’ supply of oxygen and nutrients (Case Studies and Testimonials, 1999). Claims are that this regeneration effect leads to safer, quicker recovery after training or competition and increased performance during training and competition. One such testimonial is from Andrew McManus, a professional race car driver, who uses the Quantron Resonance System (QRS). McManus stated that he used the QRS for more than 6 months, both mornings and evenings. Actual strength of the magnets was not mentioned. He reported that the number of injuries that occurred as a result of racing had dropped, and his lower back pain ceased. The general condition of his muscles improved; and his body felt regenerated, enabling him to drive the car faster. Another unexpected benefit was a noticeable improvement in his asthma. His use of medication and the frequency of attacks had diminished, thus enabling a greater training workload. McManus stated that he intends to continue the use of the QRS magnets (Case Studies and Testimonials, 1999). Also described was the AS Roma Football Club, an Italian professional soccer team that used the QRS for two months and experienced positive therapeutic results, especially in recovery from hard training. Dr. E. Allciccio, the team’s physician, noted that the fatigue factor was also lower and recommended the QRS to anyone who participates in sports.
Antonopulos (1999) stated in a testimonial for a popular magnetic company that players on the Denver Broncos of the National Football League are regular users of magnetic products. Antonopulos reported that a number of players have been using the products and have reported positive feelings from them. He mentioned that he personally has found significant results from using the magnetic insoles; they have cured his feelings of tired and sore feet. Antonopulos also stated that a prominent running back, who injured his groin prior to the Super Bowl, was treated with the magnet therapy and was able to prepare and play in the game without problem. Antonopulos believes that magnetic products are a positive aid in enhancing performance and the treatment of injuries, but did not discuss the strength of the magnets.
Jim Colbert, professional golfer on the Senior PGA Tour, stated that he has not missed a day of golf in 3 years. He attributed his longevity to wearing various types of magnets. Donna Andrews, a golfer on the LPGA tour stated that wearing magnets helps her feel and play well. Dan Marino, former quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, stated that magnets had extended his career in professional football (Biomagnetic Testimonials, 1999).
Steizinger, Yerys, Scowcroft, Wygand, and Otto (1999) investigated the effects of repeated magnet treatment on prolonged recovery from exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness. Thirteen subjects (mean age = 23.5 years and mean weight = 74.2 kg) performed a 10-minute downhill run on a treadmill at 85% max heart rate and 16% grade to induce muscle soreness. In this double-blind procedure, participants received a randomly assigned magnet (M) or placebo magnet (P) placed 5 cm proximal to the superior patellar border, for two 1-hour sessions interspersed with a 10 minute measurement session. Treatments were administered at 24-, 48-, and 72- hours postexercise. Statistical analysis revealed no significant differences between M and P trials or between presoreness 24-, 48-, and 72- hour measurements. Thus, magnetic therapy at 500 gauss applied for 2 hours per day for 3 days did not alter the normal time course of recovery from exercise-induced muscle soreness. These findings concurred with Ramey (1998) who stated that explanations that magnetic fields increase circulation, reduce inflammation, or speed recovery from injuries are simplistic and unsupported by the weight of experimental evidence.
Whatever the findings or claims, there appears to be no harm from magnetic therapy. This probably makes it attractive to some athletes who are weary of the adverse effects of other products or procedures. The psychological effect of magnetic therapy should also be considered. Future research should shed more light on the effects of magnetic therapy on athletic performance and associated questions.
Antonopulos, S. L. (1999, February). Denver Broncos Letter of Testimonial. (Available from Larry Crisp of Preventative Health Care Alliance, 10940 S. Parker Rd., # 426, Parker, CO 80134)
Baker-Price, L. A., & Persinger, M. A. (1996). Weak but complex pulsed magnetic fields may reduce depression following traumatic brain surgery. Perceptual and Motor Skill, 83, 491-498.
Biomagnetic Testimonials. (1999). Magnetic Ideas Inc. Website [On-line].
Campbell, D. (1997, November 14) New technology relieves chronic pain with magnets. Vanderbilt University Medical Center Reporter, 7, 1,2.
Case Studies and Testimonials. (1999). Quantron Resonance System Website
[On-line]. Available: www.quantronic.com
George, M. S., Wasserman, E. M., Kimbrell, T. A., Little, J. T., Williams, W. E., Danielson, A. L., Greenburg, B. D., Hallert, M., & Post, R. M. (1997). Mood improvement following prefrontal magnetic stimulation in patients with depression: A placebo controlled crossover trial. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1752-1756.
Kirkcaldie, M. T. K., Pridmore, S. A., & Pascual-Leone, A. (1997). Transcranial magnetic stimulation as therapy for depression and other disorders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 31, 264-272.
Lee, R. C., Canaday, D. J., & Doong, H. (1993). A review of the biological basis for the clinical application of electrical fields in soft-tissue repair. Journal of Burn Care Rehabilitation, 14, 319-335.
Man, D., Man, B., Plosker, H., & Markov, M. (1997). Effect of permanent magnetic field postoperative pain and wound healing in plastic surgery [Online]. Available: www.tectonic.com
Ramey, D. W. (1998). Magnetic and electromagnetic therapy. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 1, 1-16.
Rogachefsky, R. (1998). Use of tectonic magnet for treatment of hand after gun shot [Online]. Available: www.tectonic.com
Sharrard, W. J. W. (1990). A double-blind trial of pulsed electromagnetic fields for delayed union of tibial fractures. British Journal of Bone Joint Surgery, 72B, 347-355.
Steizinger, C., Yerys, S., Scowcroft, N., Wygand, J., & Otto, R. M. (1999). The effects of repeated magnet treatment on prolonged recovery from exercise induced delayed onset muscle soreness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Abstracts, 31, 963.
Szor, J. K. (1998). Use of magnetic therapy on an abdominal wound: A case study. Ostomy Wound Manage, 44, 24-29.
Valbona, C., Hazelwood, C. F., & Gabor, J. (1997). Response of pain to static magnetic fields in postpolio patients: A double-blind pilot study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78, 1200-1203.