Introducing Halo Sport: Neurotechnology for Athletes
From running shoes to sports drinks, activity trackers to cryotherapy, technology has enabled athletes to get more out of their bodies. But, while science has focused on the cardiovascular and muscular systems, the brain’s role in performance has largely been ignored. At Halo Neuroscience, we want to change that.
Halo Sport is the first neurotechnology of its kind designed for athletes. Similar to how a pre-workout meal fuels muscles, Halo Sport primes the brain to power athletes’ most effective workouts. Now everyone can train like an Olympian.
How it Works
At Halo Neuroscience, we help athletes get more from their training through a unique technology called “Neuropriming.” Neuropriming involves using pulses of energy to signal the motor cortex, improving the brain’s response to training.
At the beginning of a workout, athletes put on Halo Sport just like a pair of headphones and start a Neuropriming session using our app. Soft foam Primers deliver gentle pulses of energy to produce a state of hyperplasticity, increasing the ability of neurons in the motor cortex to work together — creating functional connections.
Hyperplasticity benefits athletes in two ways: increased strength and skill acquisition.
Halo Sport significantly increases neural drive, or the strength and coordination of signals sent from the brain to the muscles. When the brain sends more robust signals, motor unit recruitment — or the number of muscle fibers activated — increases. As motor unit recruitment increases, gains in strength and explosiveness — or the rate at which athletes can activate force — increase as well.
Recruiting muscle fiber is only part of the equation. Neuropriming also improves the brain’s natural processes for learning and retaining information, helping athletes acquire motor skills at an accelerated rate. From perfecting a golf swing to completing heavy deadlifts, Halo Sport facilitates improvements in form and technique.
A Familiar Design
You’ve got your workout down to a science. Technology shouldn’t disrupt that. With its familiar headphone design, Halo Sport is easy to integrate into your training routine. The headphones are acoustically transparent, allowing you to you to hear sounds from your environment while playing your favorite workout playlist. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone yours includes “Firework” by Katy Perry.
Our companion app helps you unlock your potential with a tap. Available on iOS (Android coming soon), the Halo Sport app allows athletes to target certain areas of the body, depending on their workout.
From Olympians to CrossFit fanatics, preliminary tests have shown that Halo Sport can give athletes a winning edge (PS: we’re always looking for more partners). The United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) measured notable improvements after completing a Halo Sport program aimed at increasing agility and power of ski jumps, which are determining factors in competition. Compared with a control group, ski jumpers that used Halo Sport improved their propulsion force by 1.7x over the control group, and increased the smoothness of their jumps by 1.8x over control.
“Our interest in Halo Sport is driven by the potential of Neuropriming to increase the rate of skill acquisition, allowing for greater gains during valuable on-snow sessions and perhaps even allowing fewer total sessions, reducing our exposure to injury. We’re already seeing enhanced learning ability and enhanced power output,” says USSA Executive VP of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner.
We’ve also partnered with Invictus — one of the nation’s most well-regarded CrossFit training programs — to help prepare their athletes for the 2016 Crossfit Open. The athletes paired their existing training routines with a 20-minute Neuropriming session at the beginning of each workout, focusing on lower-body explosiveness. Within two weeks of using Halo Sport, these athletes were able to lift five percent more weight across their lower body sets, leading to better competition performances.
“We pride ourselves on utilizing the best training methodologies to help our athletes achieve their highest potential in training and competition. Halo Sport is a natural extension of that. Our athletes have seen incredible results,” says CrossFit Invictus Founder & Coach CJ Martin.
In a research study conducted in partnership with Michael Johnson Performance (MJP) — one of the world’s leading athletic training organizations founded by four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson — Halo Sport drove 12% percent gains in athlete explosiveness.
“We know the brain is an untapped resource. With Halo Sport, it’s going to rewrite the way we think about training the body by focusing on what we can do above the neck,” says MJP Global Director of Performance Lance Walker.
The Halo Sports Research Lab has tested our technology on more than 1,200 participants in double-blind, sham-controlled studies. We’ve shown significant results in improving motor learning, strength, and explosiveness. You can read the research here.
Movement is complex: each time your body moves, there are tens of thousands of neurons sending electrical signals. Whether you’re training for a marathon, learning a new piano piece, or working on your vertical, your brain needs to refine how it tells your muscles to make the complex movements required. The brain’s unique ability to fine-tune itself—called plasticity—allows it to do just that.
Plasticity means your brain can strengthen existing connections between neurons and even form new functional pathways. Through this process, you progress from the raw, unrefined movements of a novice to the powerful, precise movements of an expert.
Optimizing your motor cortex helps your muscles perform better in a number of ways.
Motor skills rely on the brain to send signals to the correct muscles and parts of muscles in the right order. Through plasticity, your brain is able to ensure that your neurons are working together for a precise result, like playing an instrument, sinking a putt, or leaping a hurdle.
Endurance relies on the motor cortex to repeat an action for an extended period of time. Each time you take a step, swim a stroke, or pedal a bike, your brain and your muscles consume energy. Via plasticity, your training leads to more efficient movements, reducing the energy cost of each action and allowing you to endure for a longer period of time.
Strength relies on the motor cortex to ensure that your muscle fibers are contracting together and not competing with each other. Powerful output requires the coordination of the many thousands of neurons that activate a group of primary and synergist muscles. With plasticity, the brain learns to contract more useful muscle fibers and relax opposing fibers, allowing you to lift more.HyperplasticityHalo Sport is designed to make your training or practice more efficient by improving your brain’s natural plasticity. By applying a mild electric field to the motor cortex, Halo’s Neuropriming technology induces a state of “hyperplasticity.” When you train in a hyperplastic state, the brain’s normal fine-tuning process occurs more rapidly — meaning better results from each practice rep.To understand how Halo Sport achieves these benefits, it’s important to understand how neurons communicate with each other. This graph demonstrates what a neuron does when it sends a signal. The grey line is a non-primed neuron — it starts at a baseline, and stays there, not sending any signals until it starts to receive information from other neurons (the first bump). Over time, signals come in from other neurons and the line rises. If the neuron receives enough input within a short period of time, it crosses an electrical threshold and sends a signal called an action potential. This is how neurons communicate with each other.
The green line represents a neuron primed for hyperplasticity, with an elevated starting point. Similar to the unprimed neuron above, as signals come in, the line again rises until it reaches the electrical threshold and fires an action potential. The difference is that it now takes less input to trigger the neuron to send a signal. This means that more signals will be sent for a constant amount of input, and — even more importantly — nearby neurons will be more likely to fire together. Because plasticity is driven by neurons firing together as they send and receive signals, this leads to hyperplasticity — better, faster fine-tuning of your brain’s neuronal connections.
(Research cherry-picked from this page on Halo’s website.