Titanium winners

Titanium winners

Wong Yat-hei asks whether a necklace in vogue with sports stars really does what it claims to.

In recent years professional athletes have taken to wearing necklaces that contain titanium to help relieve fatigue and muscle pain. Phiten, the company that developed the product, claims it controls the electric current in the human body, relaxing muscles and keeping the body healthy.

But some local academics argue there is no scientific proof that the necklaces have any effect on the human body at all.

Takafumi Kikuchi, assistant manager of Phiten (HK) Ltd, disagrees, saying the products make use of a technology called Phild Processing.

'Titanium alone has no effect on the human body, but when it undergoes Phild Processing it emits Phild energy which ... affects the body. Not only titanium can be Phild processed - so can other metals like gold and silver,' he says.

When asked what Phild Processing is and how it works, Kikuchi says it is a commercial secret and is only known to the company's top management.

He added that the company's titanium products are used by many professional athletes and the company had more than 160 shops around the world, including seven in Hong Kong. There were no staff in Hong Kong who had the background to explain the product from a professional medical point of view.

There was also no response to a list of questions by the Young Post that was forwarded to the company's Japan headquarters.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Chung Chi-Yuen, an associate professor at City University of Hong Kong's Department of Physics and Materials Science, thinks that wearing such necklaces amounts to nothing more than superstition.

'There is no scientific proof that Phild Processing is able to affect the body current and make users feel less tired,' he said. Chung adds that, after researching Phild Processing, he had found no scientific evidence that it works. Athletes, he suggests, are by nature superstitious, often relying on lucky charms in the hope they will help produce winning results.

He also queried the notion of controlling the body's electrical current.

'It is a known fact that the human body has an electric current in the nervous system, but the idea it can be controlled in a way that is good for the human body is a myth,' says Chung.

Lobo Louie Hung-tak, an associate professor at the Department of Physical Education, Hong Kong Baptist University, agrees, pointing out there is no scientific evidence to suggest that muscle fatigue recovery can be assisted or sped up by wearing a necklace.

According to Louie, muscle fatigue can basically be defined as acute fatigue and delayed onset muscular soreness. Acute fatigue occurs when a person has done vigorous exercise and their muscles feel tired due to a large inflow of lactic acid into the muscles.

Delayed onset muscular soreness happens when muscle fibres are torn, leading to pain and requiring three to four days of rest to recover.

'Claims that a titanium necklace can control the body's electrical current and help muscles recover do not stand,' he says. 'The feeling of being less tired when wearing the necklace may only be psychological.'

Louie adds that he had seen many athletics using the titanium necklace, but he believed that it was more a fashion trend than due to its effectiveness as a sporting aid.

'I have talked to some athletes about the effect of the necklace and they said they haven't noticed any effects and simply wear it because others are doing it.'



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