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Stanford researchers' cooling glove 'better than steroids'
August 30, 2012 12:18 AM   Subscribe

New "cooling glove" discovered by accident at Stanford seems to hugely increase the efficiency of muscle training. The temperature-regulation research of Stanford biologists H. Craig Heller and Dennis Grahn has led to a device that rapidly cools body temperature, greatly improves exercise recovery, and could help explain why muscles get tired.
posted by aleph (60 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
Discovered by accident? Re-discovered by people apparently unfamiliar with baseball.

Former pro Steven Ellis: What do you do after pitching? Traditionally we have them ice it down for about 20 minutes and that helps the metabolism, increases oxygen to the area etc. The other thing that can be helpful is to go through your light exercises, have someone perform gentle massage just to get things moving and even play some light catch to increase the blood throw.
posted by three blind mice at 12:28 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


They claim it's very important to not get too cold which an ice bath would do. It would shut down the small vessel heat transfer (in the palms) which is the basis of the effect. They claim you have to ride a delicate balance between pumping as much heat as possible and getting too cold.
posted by aleph at 12:37 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, it seems the innovation here is to use the hands specifically to cool the whole body, since the body naturally uses the hands to dump waste heat anyway.

They say a version of this thing is used by some sports teams. I'm hoping it'll be available to the general public soon.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:39 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This system should would be sweet when labouring in warm to hot temperatures. Come in for your break; spend 10 minutes in the glove; and be as good to go as you were at the beginning of your shift.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Would be cool to know roughly what temperature it should be at, although I imagine running your hands under cold water for a few minutes would do the trick. I overheat super-easily naturally, and tomorrow will probably be the last hot day of the Summer here, so I'll see if this works after my bike ride to work.
posted by cthuljew at 1:23 AM on August 30, 2012


When you cool the muscle cell, you return the enzyme to the active state, essentially resetting the muscle's state of fatigue.

Wow. So essentially they're claiming that the primary cause of muscle fatigue is specifically the shutting down of the enzyme that generates chemical energy after the muscles hit a certain temperature, as a thermal relay, essentially, to protect the muscles.

If you pull out the latent heat, you re-activate the chemical energy enzyme and eradicate your fatigue... all without causing any additional damage to the body since the worst damage is primarily caused by overheating.

The simplicity and effectiveness here are incredible. And yeah, players have been icing their shoulders for decades, but as aleph points out, the article calls out specifically that the glove thermoregulates and keeps the AVA (heat exchanging veins) at just the right temperature so that they "stay above the local vasoconstriction threshold." The vacuum further increases the rate of exchange.

This could completely transform lay-people's approach to exercise if it's made somewhat widely available and will definitely transform how athletes train. Pretty sweet stuff.
posted by disillusioned at 1:51 AM on August 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Somebody put together instructions for a DIY version of this: CoreControl DIY
posted by AaronRaphael at 1:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


Should have noted that the above link contains some of the relevant specs like water temperature as well as pointers to some of the previous papers about this device.
posted by AaronRaphael at 2:01 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or you can buy a finished version, for $2995. (Plus shipping!)
posted by Kevin Street at 2:07 AM on August 30, 2012


Interesting stuff. A cooling chamber that seems to work on similar principles was credited with helping distance runner Mo Farrah to his double Olympic gold.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:36 AM on August 30, 2012


Funny. They basically reinvented NASA's Liquid Cooling Garment.

Astronauts in vacuum are basically inside a giant thermos bottle. In the first US spacewalk on Gemini 4, Ed White had little problem with heat, but he basically just floated outside for a while. But on the second during Gemini 9A, Gene Cernan overheated badly, his visor fogged up, and Tom Stafford reported that there were real concerns that Cernan wouldn't be able to make it back into the capsule.

By Gemini 12, they had made the LCG, and astronauts no longer roasted. Indeed, damn few could stand to have the Apollo LCVG set to high for more than a minute or so unless they were working very hard indeed.
posted by eriko at 3:58 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else finding it a little cruel that this is being announced at the end of August?

I hate you, Summer 2012.
posted by psoas at 4:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


eriko, "reinvented" seems kind of harsh when it only bears a resemblance to the NASA garment insofar as they both use tubes of liquid to cool someone. They're intended for different purposes (full time use vs. brief recovery periods), one's a full body suit vs. just an apparatus that fits over your hand, there's research here regarding the optimality of certain temperatures for cooling and recovery. Cool story, though.
posted by indubitable at 4:57 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


620 pull-ups? Whoa!
posted by caddis at 5:12 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


But he started at 180.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:14 AM on August 30, 2012


Interesting stuff.

There is some new research, though, (as reported in 'Running Times') showing (from what I understand) that to some degree, speeding up recovery through rapid cooling may actually decrease the body's adaptations from exercise. This can be worth it in a performance situation, to be sure (trying to get an athlete to perform well in several events over the course of a few days, as when an athlete needs to run heats, semi-finals, and finals at his or her best) but not necessarily in a training situation, when you're trying to maximize the adaptations from a workout, even at the cost of impacted performance when it matters less.

So it will be interesting to see, depending how this research pans out, whether and how this type of thing will be used.

Performance-boost or no performance boost, though, I wonder if this will become standard equipment before too long for warm-climate high school and college football teams because of the potential for saving lives.
posted by matcha action at 5:14 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


So if you got this down to the size of just a glove, something small enough to wear as you exercised, would it give you super-human powers? Would cooling your core temperature as you exert yourself increase your stamina and endurance or do you need a recovery period?
posted by jiroczech at 5:16 AM on August 30, 2012


Huh. When I lifted weights, we poured ice water over our forearms to "cool the blood". It had the effect of making you feel completely refreshed even if you were worn out before. I always figured it was psychosomatic.
posted by notsnot at 5:20 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool!
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:42 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


At my old company we did a little study on this style of cooling for a defense proposal to keep the guys cool in all that gear in a HMMWV. We used a peltier cooler and an aluminum handle. Then we stuck the poor guy in our heat treating oven and saw how much it helped with his core temperature. Even with such a crude version it made a huge difference.

My current genius idea is to build a little peltier cooler into bicycle handlebars to continuously cool you while you ride. The small weight of the battery pack would totally be worth it. You might have to find some thermally conductive rubber for grips to make it worthwhile though.
posted by TheJoven at 6:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


So like half of you knew about this already and WEREN'T trying to market it to the public? Man, you are bad, bad capitalists. Also I want it NOW
posted by Mooseli at 6:47 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was thinking this sounded really familiar. It is: here's an article from the Stanford alumni magazine dating back to 2005 on the same cooling-glove concept. In fact, the link in the FPP and this alumni magazine article have chunks of text that are extremely similar.

I think what might be new about this story is the discovery of why cooling produces such a huge benefit.
posted by adamrice at 7:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it can be used in reverse to quickly warm up people with hypothermia.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:06 AM on August 30, 2012


Discovered by accident?

Cool Hand Fluke.
posted by Kabanos at 7:06 AM on August 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


I wonder if it can be used in reverse to quickly warm up people with hypothermia.

Yep, the article says so. In fact that was their original novel use when researching how our palms are active areas to regulate core temperature. It was quite by accident that they discovered the performance gains of cooling the palms.
posted by dgran at 7:12 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]



For my recent surgery, I was given one of these to help with recovery.

http://www.ossur.com/?PageID=13515

It was the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed, I can tell you that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:32 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


TheJoven: My current genius idea is to build a little peltier cooler into bicycle handlebars to continuously cool you while you ride.

Peltier coolers aren't very efficient, so moving all that heat out of the body would require a lot of energy. That would, I think, require a big battery, and the effort to haul that battery around.

Another approach might be to run a generator on the wheel, and then use that power to run the cooler. That would add some drag, so it's kind of an open question whether the extra drag would result in a net overall benefit. I'm guessing 'yes', but without experimentation, that's purely a guess.

With the battery, it would only work until the battery ran out; with a generator, it would work for as long as you were on the bike. I assume that the battery version would work better for a short trip from outlet to outlet, but the generator approach would just keep on working, even on long trips, far away from the infrastructure necessary to charge batteries.
posted by Malor at 7:35 AM on August 30, 2012


The soles of our feet have to have the same capability--otherwise, why was it so awesome in my 100-degree F house to sleep with my soles touching the cast-iron bedframe all night, and so much worse if I didn't have that bed?
posted by resurrexit at 7:41 AM on August 30, 2012


I like the idea of integrating with the bicycle handle, but they did controlled tests only with cooling and found that the results were similar to doing nothing at all. The key ingredient is the vacuum paired with the cooling.
posted by dgran at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. You can regulate temperature through feet instead of hands. So maybe for the bike we need vacuum shoes, with water being pumped through the soles and through an exposed pipe to be cooled by the wind. Even if it didn't have any magical effects, it would keep your feet cool, and be stylish to boot ...
posted by jhc at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Ossur Cold Rush machine doesn't do vacuum, though, right?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:08 AM on August 30, 2012


Somebody put together instructions for a DIY version of this: CoreControl DIY

This is so ridiculously cool. I would like to make this.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:12 AM on August 30, 2012


When can I get my stillsuit?

"It's basically a micro-sandwich; a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. The skin-contact layer is porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body. Motions of the body, especially breathing, and some osmotic action provide the pumping force. With a Fremen suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day - even if you're caught in the Great Erg." Dune, Frank Herbert
posted by jiroczech at 8:16 AM on August 30, 2012


God, a stillsuit would reek.
posted by Malor at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I think is interesting about this is that it could very well lead to the kind of performance-boosting human augmentation that has currently been the realm of science fiction. The classical ideas there are artificial replacements (hearts, eyes, limbs) or chemical augmentation. Cybernetics isn't yet making artificial parts that are better than the ones we start with, and chemical augmentation always has very difficult-to-handle side effects.

This, however. Here's a clear change that you can make to the body that apparently substantially increases performance. How long until we're installing heat sinks in soldiers?
posted by quillbreaker at 8:36 AM on August 30, 2012


There is some new research, though, (as reported in 'Running Times') showing (from what I understand) that to some degree, speeding up recovery through rapid cooling may actually decrease the body's adaptations from exercise. This can be worth it in a performance situation, to be sure (trying to get an athlete to perform well in several events over the course of a few days, as when an athlete needs to run heats, semi-finals, and finals at his or her best) but not necessarily in a training situation, when you're trying to maximize the adaptations from a workout, even at the cost of impacted performance when it matters less.

Well, define "adaptation" here. This might or might not impact your ability to get swole from repeated exercise, but what I'm more interested in is the ability of this device to help with weight-loss exercise.
posted by kafziel at 8:44 AM on August 30, 2012


Quick! Someone check Lance`s handlebars!
posted by cacofonie at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2012


My current genius idea is to build a little peltier cooler into bicycle handlebars...

So maybe for the bike we need vacuum shoes...

When can I get my stillsuit?...


And then we combine it all with a FLIZ velocipede!
posted by Kabanos at 9:26 AM on August 30, 2012


Here's a 2008 article about the 49ers already using (a form of) this tech.
posted by Zed at 9:28 AM on August 30, 2012


So is the radiative heat action through the hands the basis of the whole 'channeling chi' deal? It always seemed fairly obvious that the whole concept of projecting 'energy' from an open palm onto someone else's body was just projecting body heat, but it'd be neat to have a medical/scientific process to point at that specifically explains that maneuver.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:34 AM on August 30, 2012


I feel like I remember seeing something about kangaroos licking their wrists to stay cool.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:49 AM on August 30, 2012


For Heller and Grahn, the story starts, improbably, with a longstanding question about bears.

There was a secondary question about Popes, but that was more easily resolved.
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I imagine running your hands under cold water for a few minutes would do the trick.

I think not: the vacuum that sucks blood into the hand seems crucial to the machine. I think if you run your hands under cold water you'll get some effect, to be sure, but you'll also get vasoconstriction in the hands which will drastically reduce the effectiveness.
posted by yoink at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2012


Oh, I'd love to see these as "cool-down" stations at the gym. The strongest barrier to working out for me (after laziness) is how quickly I overheat.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2012


Wow, I am thinking that this could really benefit people with MS, which is highly sensitive to increases in core temperatures.
posted by cgk at 10:39 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


resurrexit: The soles of our feet have to have the same capability--otherwise, why was it so awesome in my 100-degree F house to sleep with my soles touching the cast-iron bedframe all night, and so much worse if I didn't have that bed?
It also explains why so many people say that sleeping with their feet sticking out of the covers helps prevent bed sweats.

Yay no more soaked sheets every damn night!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:47 AM on August 30, 2012


FatherDagon: So is the radiative heat action through the hands the basis of the whole 'channeling chi' deal? It always seemed fairly obvious that the whole concept of projecting 'energy' from an open palm onto someone else's body was just projecting body heat, but it'd be neat to have a medical/scientific process to point at that specifically explains that maneuver
That seems a bit overreaching. There's no evidence that momentarily touching a highly heat-conductive part of your body to a random part of someone else's body would impart much energy.

Pretty sure it's nothing more than carefully-orchestrated impulse transferral (where impulse is the integral of force over contact time).
posted by IAmBroom at 10:57 AM on August 30, 2012


huh... I guess I do indeed suck at capitalism because I've been running my hands/wrists under ice cold water to cool down after working outside / a hard workout since I was eight or nine years old (that would be the 1970s). My dad explained the benefit (mass venous structure close to the surface) but I never made any further connections than that.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2012


Uh, the article implies they've tested the performance enhancing trick on only one guy. And there's no mention of a double-blind.

I'm extremely skeptical.
posted by chairface at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually noticed something like this years ago climbing a waterfall (note: do not climb waterfalls, it is a very stupid), that with cold water rushing over me my muscles didn't feel fatigued, I didn't have to stop and rest and I felt like I could do it all day. I thought it was an illusion -- that fatigue signals were being masked and that I was risking not realizing how tired I was, my muscles failing without warning and plunging to my death, so I stopped. Food for thought.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:15 AM on August 30, 2012


Uh, the article implies they've tested the performance enhancing trick on only one guy. And there's no mention of a double-blind.

I'm still a little skeptical, but I watched a few of their YouTube videos and there appears to be some legitimate scientific approach to what they are doing. The second part of the video in particular has a section where they show some controlled experiments and they have demonstrated results in several sports. Are there independent studies performed on this because all I've seen so far are from the makers.

The most striking thing to me is that the performance gains appear to be sustainable after ceasing to use the device. If true, this would imply that it enables an athlete to undergo more training stress and adaptation. This is huge for elite athletes but I think there is a real risk of overtraining, but if we stop early due to heat induced fatigue then this device is quite a performance enabler.

I'm rather giddy about the whole idea and I'm seriously tempted to follow the DIY instructions linked above. In another couple of months I transition from outdoor cycling to the indoor stationary trainer. I *know* my workouts are limited by heat in spite of an array of fans. If this works like they say it would radically change my winter workout regimen.
posted by dgran at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2012


And now I know why I sleep better on a hot night if I've got my hand against the wall. Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by mikurski at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2012


So now I am wondering how many BTU's we are talking about because with the peltiers mentioned above and some light weight heat sinks one might be able to make one of these into a wearable during exercise device.

I would kill for that. Being built like a thermos I find it almost impossible to get a decent work out in before I overheat and shutdown. This could be a game changer for those looking to lose weight that are too well insulated to perform aerobic exercises for prolonged periods.

Hmmm. Anyone know the heat load of a heavily exercising 230 lb man?
posted by The Violet Cypher at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2012


God, a stillsuit would reek.

For your average human, probably. Considering theFremen extruded Spice from every orifices it would have generally been a non-issue
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 12:33 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, not extruded</em , but they reeked of spice regardless.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 12:36 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would it necessarily have to involve vacuum suction to activate the blood vessels? I'm wondering if percussion might also work, if much less efficiently, but as an improvement over just cold water.
posted by notashroom at 12:36 PM on August 30, 2012


Or, just move the water faster past the skin.

In fact, there's no reason to believe that this wouldn't still be very useful w/o the vacuum; just not as effective.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on August 30, 2012


Wow, I am thinking that this could really benefit people with MS, which is highly sensitive to increases in core temperatures.

Digging into his publication history, it would appear that the researcher has investigated just that.
posted by indubitable at 4:18 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew I read about this a while ago! May 2006, Southwest Airlines Spirit of all places. Don't remember if this was precisely the article I read, but it's close enough.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 5:16 PM on August 30, 2012


Here is an article on the Stanford glove I remembered from 2007 from WIRED.

This is specifically about military applications of "The Glove". It is clearly identified as a DARPA project. There is a really interesting Mp3 interview on The Glove at the link, also.
posted by humannaire at 7:26 PM on September 1, 2012


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