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physicool product lineup

It’s no secret that ice can reduce swelling and inflammation. It’s part of the RICE formula that’s in health and science textbooks around the country. I’d be surprised to find any athlete who hasn’t iced an injury at least once.

From ice cubes in a Ziploc bag to special ice packs to in-a-pinch alternatives, there are all sorts of options. But nothing so unique as the Physicool Cooling Bandage.

Now, I can’t take credit for finding this – Tim Ferriss actually got me the hookup on this thing. He sure seems to have a knack for finding all this cool, interesting stuff! (Or maybe he watches a lot of the business show Dragons’ Den on BBC.)

Speaking of which, here is the clip where entrepreneur Kay Russell gets funded:

Anyway… back to the Physicool.

The Physicool is nothing like a traditional ice pack.

For one thing, it does not need to be frozen or refrigerated, ever. So you can keep it in your gym bag or in a drawer at home, and it’s always ready to be used. That’s super convenient, especially for racers who are traveling and/or out in the sun all day with no way to keep an ice pack cold.

Similarly, it won’t drip or make a mess!

The versatility can’t be beat, either. It’s so easy to apply (just like any cotton bandage) and conforms to your body. This means you can use it just about anywhere, and you still have great mobility while wearing it.

It also works in a completely different manner. Rather than trying to ‘push’ cold into your body, it works by drawing heat away from your body through rapid evaporation. (Sort of like Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero taken to the extreme!)

This is a much more gentle process that ends up being more effective. Normal ice packs can be so cold that they actually interfere with your body’s healing process and cut off the blood supply to the injured area (never a good thing!) They can also burn your skin if you’re not careful.

Since this bandage applies cold gradually and moderately, you should achieve the desired vasoconstriction followed by vasodilation response, which should result in improved blood flow to the area being treated.

On top of that, the Physicool gives you cold therapy plus compression in one product! Normally you’d have to hop in the ice bath post-workout, soak, then dry off and slip into some compression leggings. Now all you do is wrap up in this bandage and you’re in business.

So, the Physicool seems like a no-brainer!

I can already tell this is something I’ll be using A LOT!

I mean, here’s just a short list of reasons:

  • My calves are always sore from road running.
  • Occasionally my quads are sore from a long, hard day on the bike.
  • My quads get really sore after heavy squatting, too.
  • My ankles, hips, hamstrings, and back are typically sore after just an hour of ice hockey.
  • Even my wrists, forearms, and elbows are sore from rock climbing.

So, just about every body part will eventually be wrapped by the Physicool!

Here we go – it’s time for some real life testing!

First, I tore open the sealed bag. The product looked like a regular white cloth bandage rolled up, but it was wet and had a strong smell of alcohol (which makes sense, because alcohol evaporates quickly.)

Unfortunately, the seal on the “resealable” pack came unglued on one side, rendering it useless.

No biggie, let’s see how this thing works!

I decided to wrap up my shoulder first, as that was recommended on the packaging. Well… the bandage (size B, large) is big enough to wrap my entire arm! As in, it goes around my neck, shoulder, and down to my wrist. Since you only overlap it by 1/3 or so (kind of like wrapping handlebar tape,) a little goes a long way!

If you have the body of a cyclist, you probably only need the size A bandage. If you’re a linebacker or heavyweight wrestler, then perhaps you’d need the larger size, but really the size B bandage makes me feel like a mummy!

What’s really neat, that I’ve never had on a regular cloth bandage, is the built-in Velcro strap on the end. No need to tuck the bandage into itself or safety pin it. The Velcro works easily and is much more secure than sticking the tape back under itself to secure it.

Even better, though, is the experience! The bandage gets fairly cold, quickly. And then like 10 minutes later, it’s very cold!

The thing is, the bandage itself isn’t cold. But man do you feel cold underneath it! It’s crazy! Not only that, the cold sensation remains after removing the bandage!

In this case, I applied the bandage around 5:30 and had to take it off by 6:00. But my arm stayed cold until after 6:30! Wow!

Turns out it’s supposed to do that. Because it draws heat away from the body, you will “continue to feel the cooling benefits long after you have removed the bandage.”

So, you realistically only need to wear the bandage for 10-15 minutes at a time. That should result in 30+ minutes of cooling!

physicool wrapped around leg

A week later, I wrapped the bandage around my ankle… and by ankle, I mean it covered my foot, ankle, and up to the top of my knee! And it still had the full cooling effect!

Remember, this is after a week of being stored in an unsealed bag!

I left it on for 20 minutes, and as before, my leg stayed cold for a while afterwards. Apparently the bandage doesn’t dry out easily!

The next week, I used it four times in one day. It produced the cooling effect every single time!

I tried for a 5th use, but at that point, the bandage had finally dried out. I essentially got five 20-30 minute applications before the bandage needed recharged! Furthermore, the bandage was still in good shape despite being so thin and delicate.

I should also point out that I was using it on my quads this time. When I wrapped it beginning around my groin, the bandage covered my quads and hamstrings and stretched down below my knee! That’s great, but if you only need to wrap a small area, you’ll save time by using the smaller bandage.

It’s time for a coolant recharge!

What you need here is a dry bandage, a bottle of the coolant, and a functional Zip-loc bag.

physicool recharge

First, wrap the bandage up and put it in the Zip-loc bag. (If your original Physicool bag still seals, that’s great, but I had to supply my own bag.)

Then pour in about 75ml (2.5 ounces) of the coolant, seal it up, and shake the bag so that the bandage absorbs all the coolant. It takes a couple minutes for the coolant to spread through the whole bandage, and then you’re ready to go again!*

If you happened to buy the coolant in the spray bottle, I guess you could just apply the bandage, and if it’s dry, spray fresh coolant right onto it.

The recharge bottle I have came as part of a kit, and it’s only good for 2 recharges. But the normal size bottles you can buy are 500ml, which is enough for 7 recharges, so that would mean another 35 uses of the bandage!

You’d think the bandage would fall apart by then! (Maybe it will, but mine has proven pretty durable so far.**)

*With the large size bandage, you will need to use more than the recommended 75ml to get it completely saturated. Mine was not “saturated” with 75ml of fluid, and it most definitely was not as wet as the bandage came from the manufacturer. So the recharged bandage was only good for two uses, not five.

**I have a durability update as of July 2014. The bandage is still in one piece, but it has definitely stretched out and feels worn. I would never expect it to last for 35 uses. Maybe 15.

Washing and cleaning your Physicool bandages.

Lauren and I were discussing the potential problem areas for a product like this, and she brought up a very good point. How does this thing stay clean? Like if you’re using it on your feet? Or if you use it after a race, before your have a chance to shower?

Just think how dirty this thing could get after 35 applications!

But in the FAQ, it says you can wash it:

“Yes you can. Wash it as you would a normal cotton bandage, in a warm wash.”

Hmmm. I’ve never washed a cotton bandage, so that doesn’t help much!

Then I did some research, and it turns out that you can wash a regular cotton bandage (sometimes called a “crepe bandage”) to clean it and restore elasticity. Never knew that! You just hand wash it in the sink with hot water and a little bit of soap, and rinse it off with warm water. Squeeze it to remove most of the water (don’t wring it,) then hang dry. Similar to how you’d hand wash cotton delicates.

washing the physicool bandage

So I washed mine before doing the coolant recharge. The water turns blue from the leftover coolant (or a brown/blue if it was dirty,) and the bandage becomes bright white.

physicool bandage hanging to air dry

Once you squeeze it out, it’s mostly dry. Then just hang it out to air dry, which shouldn’t take too long, especially if you can place it in some bright sunlight. If not, I’d leave it out overnight for best results.

Could I use the Physicool for reducing core temperature during workouts?

I was never a huge fan of placing an ice pack on the back of my neck during a workout, in order to keep my core temperature at an ideal level. It was simply a pain in the butt.

physicool wrapped around core

Now that I have a Physicool, though, it opens up so many opportunities! For a long bike race, I could wrap the large bandage around my core and it would cool me for 2-3 hours or more. For situations where I couldn’t wear the bandage during the workout, I could wear it pre-workout, then rely on the long-lasting cooling effect to keep me cool during the actual workout.

The good news is, this does work! You can wear it wrapped around your core during a bike workout, and it definitely helps keep your core temp within a reasonable range.

It’s kind of tricky, though. You have to wrap the bandage tight enough that it stays in place, but loose enough that you can still breathe easily. Because it will constrict your stomach and rib cage! It will also bunch up a little in your arm pits, and that’s not exactly comfortable.

I’d only advise this for workouts where your upper body remains relatively still. For me, that’s only road biking. (Running, mountain biking, and hot yoga didn’t go so well!)

max inspecting the physicool

Max was eying up the Physicool bandage!

My final verdict is…

Aside from a couple minor quibbles, this thing really impresses me! It’s so much more versatile than a regular ice pack, and it works much, much better!

Sure it’s more expensive – the small bandage plus 5oz recharge liquid combination pack will set you back $30 – but if you train enough, it’s probably worth it!

Official website: www.Physicool.co.uk (and www.Physicool.us)

Buy online: www.Amazon.com


Product Review Details
Company: Physicool
Product: Physicool Cooling Bandage
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Date last updated: 2014-07-01
Obtained Product: Gift from friend.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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