Animal magnetism might get you results in the après-ski bar, but for help with sore muscles, you might want to try the real thing. Though doctors don't agree on how-or even if-they work, a growing number of elite athletes are turning to magnets for help with pain and muscle and joint injuries. They come in all forms-everything from magnet-filled mattresses to magnetic braces and supports.
Manufacturers say the magnets accelerate healing and reduce pain. For skiing, they can be worn in your boots or under your clothes on any of the infamous sore spots, without interfering with your form. The theory behind the magnets is that charged particles in the blood are attracted to the magnetic field, creating movement and heat. This, proponents say, causes blood vessels to dilate, allowing for faster healing.
"We have evidence that stronger currents play an important role in healing, but we don't know if mild currents produced by a magnet are successful or not," says Dr. Kevin R. Stone, orthopaedic surgeon at the Stone Clinic in San Francisco and a U.S. Ski Team physician. "On the other hand we don't know that the magnets don't work." BIOflex, one manufacturer, sells a variety of magnet-based products from $45 to $95. Call (800) 979-4343.