Home » Science or pseudoscience: 5 Athletes’ Encounters with Controversial Tech

Science or pseudoscience: 5 Athletes’ Encounters with Controversial Tech

Interesting pseudoscientific cases from the world of sports

by Azra Alware
Starting line of the athletic field.

Athletes look for novel strategies to outperform their peers. They help them race ahead in the fast-paced and fiercely competitive world of sports. In recent times, the sports sector has seen the rise of several tools and gadgets that claim to improve performance, speed up recuperation, and optimize training. But not all technological solutions are created equally, and some of them have alarmed the scientific community. In this post, we explore cases when sportsmen have faced questionable approaches that straddle the boundary between science and pseudoscience.

Athletes frequently find themselves at the intersection of questionable claims and technological advancements. Be it novel training methods that promise miraculous results or wearable devices that claim to boost stamina, they often are questioned for lacking scientific evidence in support of the claims. While experts term them as. Pseudoscientific technological solutions, athletes argue that they help unleash latent potential to accomplish incredible feats. Skepticism and uncertainties linger as the scientific community contests the validity and effectiveness of these practices.

The Potential Consequences of Embracing Pseudoscientific Tech

Athletes, coaches, and sports fans should be aware of the possible hazards and negative effects associated with using pseudoscientific technology products. People may be first drawn in by the appeal of rapid remedies and incredible promises, but it is important to scientifically assess the truth behind these claims. The following are some potential negative effects of using pseudoscientific technology.

1. Performance plateau 

Relying on pseudoscientific technology could make athletes think they’ve discovered a quick route to success. However, if technology falls short of expectations, athletes may see their performance stagnate or even decline, which would crush their expectations and confidence.

2. Wasted resources.

The cost of pseudoscientific technologies is usually high. Athletes and sports organisations investing significant sums of money in untested technology risks squandering money that could have gone into equipment, training techniques, or scientific research that is supported by evidence.

3. Ethical concerns 

Pseudoscientific technology frequently operates in a grey area, testing the bounds of moral behaviour. This could entail the use of illegal chemicals, dubious medical procedures, or the exploitation of athletes looking to improve their performance. Such actions can have serious repercussions, such as suspensions and penalties.

4. Unrealistic expectations

Adopting pseudoscientific technology might cause sportsmen to have inflated expectations and give themselves false optimism. They believe that by using these tools, they might get miraculous changes without putting in the effort, commitment, and attention essential for real athletic growth.

5. Physical and mental health risk

Some pseudoscientific technologies may cause serious physical and mental health issues. Adopting unsafe training methods or consuming untested performance boosting drinks can put athletes at risk of bearing the long-term impacts on their health. Additionally, reliance on inadequate or deceptive technology has a psychological cost that can lead to stress, worry, and a loss in general mental health.

A basketball lying in the court.

Image credit: Unsplash

5 cases of Pseudoscientific Tech being adopted by Athletes

1. LeBron James and Cryotherapy Chambers

LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. One way he maintains his competitive edge is through the regular use of whole-body cryotherapy. 

Cryotherapy is a treatment that involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for a short period, typically between two to four minutes, in a cryotherapy chamber. The treatment is believed to help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and speed up recovery time after exercise.

LeBron James and other sportsmen often employ cryotherapy as a treatment to meet the physical demands of their sport. Many sportsmen vouch for cryotherapy’s capacity to lower inflammation, ease pain, and short time recovery after exercise, despite the fact that its advantages are still not fully known. 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo and Herbalife Supplements

One of the best soccer players, Cristiano Ronaldo uses Herbalife vitamins as one approach to keep his competitive edge. Herbalife is a multinational nutrition firm that creates a variety of sports beverages and supplements to improve athletes’ performance at their best. Herbalife has been collaborating with Ronaldo for more than ten years and is the official nutrition sponsor for Ronaldo.

Herbalife developed a sports drink called CR7 Drive named after Ronaldo’s popular title. Supposedly, the drink is designed to contain all the required nutrients to help athletes improve their performance. Ronaldo has also worked with a team of Herbalife professionals to optimize his day-to-day nutrition and receive expert recommendations on how he could improve his overall performance.

While Herbalife supplements are popular among athletes, some experts caution that the benefits of these supplements may be overstated, and that more research is needed to fully understand their effects on the body. 

3. Shaquille O’Neal and Power Balance Wristbands 

Shaquille O’Neal, a prominent NBA player endorsed Power Balance wristbands prior to 2011 and was often seen wearing them during games. His endorsement undoubtedly increased the visibility and popularity of the product. However, it is important to note that athletes endorsing products does not necessarily validate their effectiveness or scientific legitimacy. 

Holographic technology that was incorporated into the Power Balance bracelets were advertised as a product that might improve a sports person’s performance. According to the manufacturer, these holograms might resonate with and react to the body’s inherent energy field. However, the scientific basis for these claims was highly questionable, and the Power Balance wristbands were deemed pseudoscience.

The concept of holograms influencing physical abilities lacks scientific evidence and is widely considered to be a placebo effect. Overall, the use of Power Balance wristbands in sports, including Shaquille O’Neal’s endorsement, exemplifies how pseudoscientific products can gain traction and influence through celebrity endorsements and marketing campaigns, despite lacking credible scientific support.

4. Ashleigh Johnson and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

American water polo goalie Ashleigh Johnson is well-known for using hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) to speed up her recovery from injuries and enhance performance. In the HBOT procedure, pure oxygen is breathed in a pressurised chamber which is thought to assist raise the body’s oxygen levels and aid in healing. Experts caution that the advantages of HBOT treatment may be oversold.

Ashleigh Johnson’s use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy highlights the trend of athletes’ quest for pseudoscientific tech to gain a competitive edge. While HBOT may improve an athlete’s performance in the short term, more research is needed to fully understand its effects on the body. 

5. Kobe Bryant and Regenokine Therapy 

Kobe Bryant was an American basketball player who underwent regenokine therapy, a form of regenerative medicine, to help him recover from knee injuries and improve his performance. Regenokine therapy is a type of orthobiologic treatment that involves taking a patient’s blood, processing it, and then injecting it back into the patient’s body to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. The treatment is believed to help reduce pain and inflammation, improve joint function, and speed up recovery time after injury.

Bryant travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany to see Dr. Peter Wehling, a pioneer in the field of orthobiologic medicine, to get an experimental kind of regenokine treatment. Bryant’s blood was drawn for the procedure, processed, and then injected back into his body to aid with healing and the reduction of inflammation. To aid in his recovery from injuries, Bryant has also undergone additional types of regenerative therapy, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.

The sports community has witnessed athletes embracing various pseudoscientific technologies in their quest for improved performance, accelerated recovery, and optimized training. However, it is essential to recognize the potential risks and consequences associated with these practices. The allure of quick fixes and extraordinary claims can lead athletes astray, causing performance plateaus, wasted resources, and unrealistic expectations. Moreover, the use of pseudoscientific tech raises ethical concerns, as it often operates in a gray area.

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