Magic cooling glove "better than steroids" for athletic performance improvement

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 05, 2012

Leveraging the high number of specialized heat-transfer veins in the palm of the human hand, researchers at Stanford have developed a thermal exchange glove that is able to cool a person's core temperature in a matter of minutes. Turns out this is helpful for athletes.

The glove's effects on athletic performance didn't become apparent until the researchers began using the glove to cool a member of the lab โ€” the confessed "gym rat" and frequent coauthor Vinh Cao โ€” between sets of pull-ups. The glove seemed to nearly erase his muscle fatigue; after multiple rounds, cooling allowed him to do just as many pull-ups as he did the first time around. So the researchers started cooling him after every other set of pull-ups.

"Then in the next six weeks he went from doing 180 pull-ups total to over 620," said Heller. "That was a rate of physical performance improvement that was just unprecedented."

The researchers applied the cooling method to other types of exercise โ€” bench press, running, cycling. In every case, rates of gain in recovery were dramatic, without any evidence of the body being damaged by overwork - hence the "better than steroids" claim.

The cooling resets a temperature-sensitive enzyme that muscles need to generate energy, "essentially resetting the muscle's state of fatigue". I expect this will be either everywhere in pro sports in a couple of years or banned. (via @jsnell)