Gear Test: CoreControl cooling glove

The CoreControl glove rapidly cools the body's core temperature, allowing for instant recovery. Courtesy of Stanford Athletics/StanfordPhoto.com

Imagine pushing your body to its absolute limit and then finding a liquid-filled device that lets you push it even harder and longer than ever before -- perhaps as much as double your previous limit.

No, it’s not a syringe filled with anabolic steroids we’re talking here, but a mere glove, a light vacuum and some ice water that has been statistically proved to be just as effective.

The San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors use it, as does Stanford’s entire football team, whose players even wear it during games.

What is it?

A glove that’s potentially the future of sports science, without the doping.

PRODUCT: CoreControl, $895; available Jan. 2013

WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO DO: Everyone hits the proverbial wall at the gym. The reason this happens is simple: When you exercise, your body generates heat. Too much heat and your muscles start to shut down and potentially get damaged.

The CoreControl glove is designed to cool down your body’s core temperature in a matter of minutes, allowing for instant recovery. The result: longer and harder workouts.

Stanford biologists H. Craig Heller and David Grahn created the glove by essentially distilling a basic scientific principle.

When the body is hot, where is the best place to cool it? The least insulated part of the body -- the palms of our hands.

Where does your body send blood to try to cool itself after heavy workouts? The palms.


The glove creates a light vacuum that keeps the blood vessels open, allowing cold water to pour in and cooling the blood, which then gets redistributed around the body.

DOES IT WORK?: At this point, a disclaimer is important -- I am not what would be classed as overly fit. I’m not spherical, but a penchant for cheese means I’m an owner of a slender muffin top. But when the boffins at Stanford reported that female freshmen were doing 900 pushups in 45 minutes, it’s hard not to be intrigued.

My usual gym routine goes no further than hitting the heavy bag and jumping rope. But when I tested CoreControl, I had former University of Cincinnati defensive end and New York Jets linebacker Dan Sellers there to push me past my limit. After half an hour of my hardest workout in months, I tried the glove on.

The first thing I noticed: Nearly all of my sweat disappeared. Then a coldness started to move up my arm. After a few minutes, I felt refreshed to the point where I didn’t feel like I had really worked out at all.

Returning to my workout felt like the beginning of the workout. As for aching and struggling to get out of bed? Not a problem. My friend, who is a veritable gym rat, tested it alongside me and managed three times his usual workload and felt the exact same effects the next day.

A cynic might ask: Why can't I save the $895 and just dunk my hand in ice water?

You could certainly try, but don't expect anything close to similar results. The reason is that when you put your body in cold water, the blood vessels contract and restrict blood flow. It's a protection mechanism.

CoreControl's vacuum guards against that by keeping your vessels open so the blood keeps flowing.

And while the price may seem high for individual use, it is actually a reasonable investment for any team or gym.

For regular guys trying to keep fit, this must all seem strange and exciting.

For pro athletes like the 49ers and Warriors who use it regularly, it must be a phenomenon.

PRODUCT 2.0: Imagine a future where every gym in the land has one of these. Feel tired after a session? Not a problem. Strap on the glove. The downside is that the current iteration of the device requires that you sit to use it, as it’s quite bulky. In the future, a more mobile version would surely be better.

The other downside: The machine needs to be fed with ice, something that’s not always convenient. Down the line, a CoreControl glove with a different cooling element might be a better fit.

But overall it’s an exciting product that promises an edge to people of all abilities and wholly delivers.

Check out the Stanford video below to see CoreControl in action: