In the build up to Rio, it has emerged that three US Olympic track and field athletes have used special headphones called Halo Sport to stimulate the brain during their training. A popular CrossFit elite team of athletes also tried the new technology in this year’s Open, ahead of the headset’s release this fall.


The headsets in question are manufactured by Halo Neuroscience and claim to send pulses of energy to prime the athlete's brain and increase overall performance. This improves the athlete’s response to training and enables the motor cortex to send stronger signals to muscles. Allegedly, this results in more motor unit recruitment, more muscle fibre activation, and greater skill acquisition. For athletes, these headsets are basically purporting to be the Philosopher’s Stone of training.


The track and field athletes aren’t the first on the US Olympic Team’s roster to have tried Halo Sport’s headsets. A case study promoted on the company's website shows a 13% improvement in propulsion force in US Olympic skiers using the headphones compared to a control group. That said, the study is miniscule – totalling just seven subjects, with the internal organizers also having a clear bias.


For interested functional fitness athletes, some of the team at CrossFit Invictus also tried the headset prior to the 2016 CrossFit Open, reporting a 5% increase in weight lifted in training when performing 20 minute “neuropriming” sessions with the Halo headset on. The write-up specifically touts Maddy Myers’ response to the Halo technology, enthusiastically listing the Junior American records she achieved after using it. I would speculate that this was more to to do with Maddy Myers being an incredibly dedicated (read: consistent) 19-year-old (read: super adaptable) lifter, who had no trouble breaking records the year before without a pair of $649 headphones. But that’s just me.


The retail price is alone is enough reason to be sceptical, and the need for independent studies with bigger samples and less bias is incredibly clear. Nevertheless, the headset and its results are compelling. If the athletes in the Halo test groups come back from Rio with medals, we may just see a new vogue amongst affluent athletes in 2017.


And you thought those goofy electric muscle stimulators were bad.


This article originally appeared on Breaking Muscle UK.


Teaser photo courtesy of Pixabay.