There has been a lot of skepticism around magnetism over the last decade. Many of you have probably heard many claims, and maybe some of these you couldnt even explain, except by ascribing them to the placebo effect. Im not talking about stories like my elbow feels better here, Im talking about the more compelling ones, like this one from my business partner of five years:
He had sleep issues, weekly migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms for over five years. He tried everything from acupuncture, chiropractic and homeopathic methods without success. Finally, he slept on a magnetic mattress and went from being one of the worst sleepers that he knew to being one of the best in two nights! Its hard to believe, but what made this story a bit more interesting was that this particular individual happened to be an exercise physiologist working with over 20 Olympic and pro teams that was also looking for sleep solutions for his clients and not only himself. One fact that cannot be denied is that one of the biggest problems facing personal trainers is that 30-60% of all their clients have some form of sleep problem, and those are huge numbers.
This, of course, negatively affects training results immediately and in the long term. If clients dont get results with their trainers, they are not happy clients. So what can a trainer do faced with this major challenge? Well, not much. Doctors can prescribe sleeping pills, but these only knock someone out and do not reestablish proper sleeping patterns and recovery and are never a long term solution. This is when this exercise physiologist, Pierre Gaudet, after reviewing all existing research literature available at the time, started to use magnetic sleep pads with athletes and found them to be the most efficient and natural solution available. He also used localized magnetic pads for localized recovery. This is fairly relevant to all of us trainers since research has found that people will have trouble losing weight if they dont sleep well, regardless of what else you get them to do.
Before starting anything, though, where does all the research stand on this?
There werent many before the millennium. Now, studies have been conducted at over 300 research centers from around the world, including prominent and mainstream institutions such as Imperial College London, California, Yale and
· In the May 5, 2003, issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine, Dr. Michael Weintraub concludes: The present study provides convincing data confirming that the constant wearing of static, permanent, magnetic insoles produces statistically significant reduction of neuropathic pain [in diabetic patients]. Again it said, Not all magnets are created equal! As important to the results of our tests as any of the other control features the randomization, the double blinding, the placebo control was the consistency of the product technology. Dr. Weintraubs study included 48 investigative sites in 27 states. There were 11 university-based centers and 37 private practices involving nearly 400 persons in his study. He noted, This is the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to scientifically demonstrate the merits and clinical benefits utilizing static magnets. The same protocol used in drug studies was used for this trial. Dr. Weintraub concludes that not only is magnetic therapy comparable or superior to that observed with various conventional drugs, it has the advantage of being non-invasive and is also less expensive and has no side effects.
· From the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation 13 (1999), pages 19-31: The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, found that sleeping on a magnetic mattress pad, with a magnet surface field strength of 1100+/-50 Gauss, delivering 200-600 Gauss at the skin surface provides statistically significant and clinically relevant pain relief and sleep improvement in subjects with fibromyalgia. No adverse reactions were noted during the 16-week trial period.
· A summary of a 12-month, double-blind, clinical test of magnetic mattress pads carried out on 351 patients by San-ikukai Hospital, Tokyo Communications Hospital and Kouseikai Suzuki in Japan had an 87.1% success with insomnia inside two weeks. Dr. Shimodaira's conclusion of this year-long study conducted in three of Japan's foremost hospitals stated: "The magnetized health mattress pad has proven to be effective on neck and shoulder pain, back and lower back pain, back pain, lower limb pain, insomnia and fatigue and to have no side effects."
· Cassandra E. Morris andThomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at the
· On pages 77-81 of volume 15 of the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Michael I. Weintraub and Steven P. Cole found magnetism useful for neuromagnetic treatment of pain in refractory carpal tunnel syndrome: Electrophysiological improvement in distal latencies in over 60% of hands using magnetic treatment was noted compared to no change or worsening in all placebo cases.
· In a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point study of the effect of magnetic insoles on postural sway measures in men and women during a static balance test, Suomi R, Koceja concluded: Twenty-eight adults were assessed on postural sway measures while performing a static two-legged stance test on a Kistler force platform under two treatment conditions [magnetic insoles, non-magnetic insoles]. Significant reductions in total sway area and lateral sway scores were obtained by the older adults while standing on the magnetic insoles.
The above are just a few of the now hundreds of studies available to support the benefit of using magnetism as a potential solution for generalized sleep issues or localized recovery. They far outweigh the few failed studies, where the expected, specific, measured outcome was not achieved. These studies were not available a decade ago, so it would have made it inappropriate for general recommendations at the time.
But be careful, just because these studies are here doesnt mean everyone should just go buy whatever they see. Its similar to nutritionals; its quite unregulated and the buyers beware motto holds true in this multi-billion dollar industry also. You will want to do your own homework, just like anything else.
How Do Researchers Explain Localized and Systemic Effects?
Well, first from a big picture standpoint, there are five natural life-sustaining forces that used to be considered constants. What happens if you are deficient in the first four: water, heat, nutrition, and oxygen? We know that not getting the right amount of any of these can affect your health.
So, what is the fifth life-sustaining force? Correct: Magnetism. If the earth did not have its magnetic field, life could not be sustained on this planet. What happens if it decreased by 30-50%? This is where the first educational insight occurs for most of us and it already has.
If you are like me, you will want to double-check this information, and you can do so by Googling nova magnetic storm or clicking here.
Electromagnetic Fields and Static Magnetic Fields
At this point, it is important to differentiate electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and static magnetic fields (SMFs). EMFs are high-frequency magnetic fields created by a high-frequency alternating electrical current (60 Hz or above). Too many times have EMFs been linked to potential health problems, and they also seem to be pollution for the natural, earth-generated SMF that our body needs. So not only is the natural magnetic field of the earth significantly lower, but what remains of it we have polluted with man-made EMFs. This is similar to polluting chemicals in our food, water or air. Recommendations: Increase the static magnetic field, but only by the amount that is missing, and stay further away from EMFs.
Sleep and Magnetism
In regards to sleep, two studies by Sandyk et al. published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 1993 and 1994, found that the pineal gland, which is a major controller of the awake/sleep cycle through melatonin and serotonin control, is the most magnetically sensitive gland in the entire human body; it has the most magnetite in it. The researchers concluded that the pineal gland can become desynchronized with an insufficient external magnetic field, and when a sufficient external magnetic field is reintroduced, it will often resynchronize itself. Thus the proper circadian rhythm and sleep pattern is reestablished naturally.
While all this new positive information is now available to stimulate a trainers curiosity, as a fitness professional, you will probably want to do your own homework on the matter before introducing this to your clientele. Just by Googling different key words, you can access a large number of supportive research studies, products, stories and skeptics.
With the plethora of positive double-blind studies available today and the technology being non-medical, all trainers can recommend them to their clients in total safety, also knowing that millions of people have been using magnetism over the last couple of decades. Now we should better understand why magnetism works and how to better utilize it so that a more professional and effective approach can be used. As anything else, these are not cure-alls; they can just become one more tool in the trainers tool box to assist their clients towards their goals. And isnt that why we do what we do?
Jason Rutz operates Advanced Life Solutions, Inc., his consulting company. He has a bachelor of science in Nutrition in Fitness from