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Phiten is now the official placebo maker for Major League Baseball

Apr 9, 2012, 12:33 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

I just got a press release from Major League Baseball announcing that Phiten is now “The Official Compression Sleeve of Major League Baseball.”

You have heard of Phiten, of course. They make those ugly necklaces that provide no scientifically or medically proven benefits whatsoever, despite the fact that Phiten touts them for their ability to “promote stable energy flow throughout the body” and to provide “longer lasting energy, less fatigue, shortened recovery time and more relaxed muscles.”  Indeed, Major League Baseball — whose players are given free Phiten necklaces for obvious promotional purposes — refers to them in the press release as “the innovator and original maker of precious metal-infused wellness products.”

The compression sleeve is something else.  You’ve seen it: a spandexy-looking sleeve worn usually on one arm. They too are infused with Phiten’s “Aqua-Titanium technology,” and are supposed to “keep arm muscles warm and loose as well as to absorb moisture.” Which sort of sounds like a sleeve to me. Or a sweat band. Except those things don’t sell for $19.

Hey, not my money. If an athlete — or a wannabe — thinks that a compression sleeve helps them, good for them. If they think it makes them look badass, well, even better for them.  But, gosh, I sure hope no one things it’s gonna help them hit a baseball or anything.

  1. micklite7 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    While there isn’t a whole lot of science backing the titanium necklaces… the opposite can be said for compression products. Phiten has been in business since 1983 though, so all the negativity towards them that pops up when a new product is announced about snake oil vendors and such isn’t going to hurt em. What about all the golfers and such who wore copper bracelets back in the day? Compression sleeves are definitely something else though… and if you have ever worn one while playing sports you would know what they do. Nike also makes a compression sleeve and they are just as popular and the same price. I wear the calf compression sleeves when I run, and they are nothing short of AMAZING. Phiten already makes MLB team necklaces and MLB socks… this year they are coming out with a new compression sleeve that will also have the MLB logo on it, so I’m sure that’s what this press release is about.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Viva Chi Chi Rodriguez!

    • mdpickles - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      “and if you have ever worn one while playing sports you would know what they do.” “I wear the calf compression sleeves when I run, and they are nothing short of AMAZING.”

      ^^^^Well done, a perfect description of “the placebo effect.”

      • micklite7 - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:42 PM

        You are confusing the titanium products with compression products… I agree about placebo affect with the necklaces… but there is actually science to back the compression sleeves.

  2. redguy12588 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Selling ice to an Eskimo comes to mind here.

    • micklite7 - Apr 9, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      • clydeserra - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        You didn’t read that did you?
        1) it says “The people who use them swear by them. The people who study their effectiveness? Not so much.”

        so, basically there is no scientific back up to their effectiveness

        2) 4 of the 5 benefits are also benefits of pants.

        So yeah, snake oil.

  3. dowhatifeellike - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    I’m not sold on compression-as-performance-enhancer. I wear compression-type shorts or leggings when I ride my bike, but the primary functions are temperature regulation and aerodynamics. I can ride just as hard and just as long in regular gym shorts (as long as the weather cooperates). I feel like compression negates the “pump” factor of a strenuous workout – muscles swell as more blood is delivered to taxed muscle fiber. Compression inhibits that process. After a long/hard ride, I definitely have more swelling in the exposed part of my quads. This swelling goes away shortly after exercise ends, but it’s an important process. More blood means more energy.

    I definitely don’t understand why baseball players would want compression garments under their uniforms. Unless you’re pitching or catching, baseball is not a terribly strenuous activity. Boredom is more common than over-exertion.

    Compression for post-exercise recovery is another story entirely. It reduces swelling/inflammation and has other benefits as well.

    • retief1954 - Apr 9, 2012 at 11:36 PM

      Baseball is incredibly strenuous, in short bursts. And the bursts come all game. Those guys are world-class athletes who exert tremendous force during plays.

  4. El Bravo - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Condom makers thought of this a long time ago….

  5. bisonaudit - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    The rose goes in the front, big guy.

  6. scatterbrian - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Why don’t they make the entire uniform out of compression sleeves?!

    • dowhatifeellike - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      Might as well put them in wetsuits with the team logo on the front.

      • l0yalr0yal - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        I like Jonathan Broxton a lot, but if I saw him in a wetsuit, I would pepper-spray myself.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:45 PM

        That’s next for the Marlins.

  7. cggarb - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    It baffles me that MLB (and others) continue to partner with this operation.

    “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct …”

    • micklite7 - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Thats Power Balance, not Phiten, who made those claims

  8. lapsncaps - Apr 9, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I have been wearing compression sleeves (well socks) for over 2 years on my calves for marathons and they do work wonders. I always feel great the next day, and haven’t cramped up during a race since using them. Don’t know what benefit they have for baseball, but from my experience they do work, if you are using them properly. But again, in baseball I don’t see the benefit. I see it in sports like soccer and baseball, but not baseball.

  9. samu0034 - Apr 9, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Let’s just assume for a second that they DO work. And further let’s acknowledge that there’s a significant portion of baseball fandom that is utterly opposed to the use of steroids, not so much based on player health, but because the use of them provides an unfair advantage over historical players, thereby cheapening the game as a whole. Why are these compression sleeves okay? Why in God’s name is MLB actually endorsing something like this? This is more or less a Devil’s Advocate argument, as I don’t believe they provide any benefit to a baseball player, but it seems weird to be to vilify one sort of means of improving one’s play while paying the company that manufactures another.

    • ta192 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      Couldn’t agree more. Guess ‘roids never gave a cut to MLB…

  10. sophiethegreatdane - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    There is no shortage of gullible morons in this great land of ours.

    • rollinghighwayblues - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:40 PM

      e.g., people who buy BP hats.

  11. Chris K - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    I’ve had enough of these external performance enhancers ruining the integrity of the game!

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