By Laura Shin
Posting in Energy
Could this be the end of steroids? A special cooling glove could be the ticket to endless workouts without fatigue.
Okay, so this isn't the most attractive apparatus ever.
But in terms of athletic performance, it can lead you to the results of steroids, without the troubles with the law, acne and male breast enlargement.
Stanford University researchers stumbled upon the benefits of this "cooling glove," which cools down core body temperature after workouts, enabling athletes to recover more quickly and to train more.
Versions of it are now being used by the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, the Manchester United soccer club and a few college athletic teams, including some of Stanford's, and a commercial version is on its way.
But before you sign up to buy, find out how it works -- and why black bears were the inspiration.
What black bears have to do with it
Black bears are very furry, and they also have a lot of fat on their bodies, both of which help them keep up their body temperatures during winter hibernation. But despite all this insulation, they don't overheat in summer. What Stanford biologists Dennis Grahn and H. Craig Heller discovered is that bears, like nearly all mammals, have have what Stanford News Service calls "built-in radiators."
Basically, these are spots on the body that are mainly devoted to rapid temperature management. They're "hairless areas of the body that feature extensive networks of veins very close to the surface of the skin," according to Stanford.
These networks of veins, called AVAs (arteriovenous anastomoses), can be found in a variety of animals. Rabbits have them in their ears, dogs in their tongues. Bears have them on the pads of their feet and on the tips of their noses.
Humans have them on their faces and feet, but our most prominent AVAs are in our hands -- and that's where the glove comes in.
How the cooling glove improves athletic performance
So, why not just stick your hands in ice water to cool off? Well, it turns out that in extremely cold temperatures, the blood networks in AVAs shut down. So, the cooling down has to be controlled. Hence, the glove.
When slipped on, the glove creates a slight vacuum around the hand. That vacuum draws blood up to the surface of the skin. From there, Goldilocks temperature water flows behind a plastic lining in the glove, cooling down the subject's hand.
The researchers have anecdotal evidence of the glove improving athletic performance, such as in one lab member (Vinh Cao, whose huge arms you won't miss in the video below) who went from doing an average of 180 pull-ups to 620 within six weeks.
The reason cooling seems to give athletes such a quick recovery has to do with a temperature-sensitive enzyme that is used by muscles to generate energy. As the body's temperature rises, this enzyme shuts down.
Cooling the muscle cell brings the enzyme back to its active state, "essentially resetting the muscle's state of fatigue," according to Stanford.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- A new blood treatment for Olympians and other star athletes
- Riding bikes harmful to female sexual health
- The no-nose bike saddle faces a marketing problem
- The science behind one woman's quest to swim 60 hours in shark-infested waters
- A twist on tennis allows the blind to play
- This pool table stays level in rough waters
- Bypass breakthrough: blood vessels made from liposuction
- Study pinpoints how exercise improves brain performance
- First transfusion of lab-grown human blood succeeds
Sep 5, 2012
The cooling gloves are no doubt a great gift for athletes to improve their performance and they need not to take ice bath etc to cool off. http://www.lawyer-network.net/
The other problem with an ice bath is your hands or forearms get so cold they become almost numb and this is a big problem if you are using it in game situations not to mention to actually slow down the dissipation of heat short term. Also even for practise or use in the gym who wants to keep dipping their hands in ice water all the time?
Not an ice bath. (I can read.) Or how about a walk-in frig (a reverse sauna)? Then you don't need the glove apparatus. Or does the body as a whole need to stay warm, while cooling only the blood?
"So, why not just stick your hands in ice water to cool off? Well, it turns out that in extremely cold temperatures, the blood networks in AVAs shut down. So, the cooling down has to be controlled."