05 May 2010

bikefix Exclusive Review: KOOL 'N FIT Sport Performance Spray

I'm sure that I'm not unique in this respect, but it seems like the older I get, the longer it takes my muscles to warm up. As someone who tends to prefer big rides at a moderate pace, that's not a huge problem. Still, there are times (cool mornings, short races) when it would be hugely beneficial to have my legs ready to rock when the starting gun fires.

Several months ago, the folks at KOOL 'N FIT tracked us down and asked if we wanted to try their "Sport Performance Spray," a spray-on vasodilator claimed to increase blood circulation by "up to 30%." Having used various warming rubs and embrocations since my Nordic skiing days and not warming up as quickly as I once did, I was personally excited to give it a go.

Unlike Ben Gay and Icy Hot, which are apparently analgesic warming rubs, KNF Sport Performance Spray uses menthol, camphor, juniperberry oil, peppermint, and other "essential oils" to promote blood flow where sprayed. While this all sounds like internet "miracle cure" stuff, the company have had Japan's Institute of General Health attempt to quantify the improved blood flow (which is where the 30% increase figure comes from) as well as do some thermal imaging to illustrate the improvement. While we all like pretty pictures, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we spread the samples out among a number of riders and runners and awaited their feedback.

Within 5 minutes or so of applying the Sport Performance Spray, I feel a very pleasant warming sensation and my muscles (which I rarely stretch) loosen noticeably. Applied when dressing, the spray has time to soak in and work- KNF recommend spraying yourself down an hour or so before the start of a ride or race (which would put the maximum benefit at the start of the event but after the warm sensation has faded). They also recommend spraying the inside of socks and bike shorts the night before a ride or race, as sweat generated during the event will deliver the spray when it's needed.

For me, the proof of the spray's benefit came from spraying one leg with KNF Sport Performance Spray before riding and leaving the other bare (something KNF suggested). The sprayed leg does feel much better at the beginning of the ride (though they both tend to be pretty worked by the end). More beneficially, I have taken to spraying my calves, my thighs, and my often tight lower back post-ride. KNF under compression socks after a big day out (especially followed by a long drive home) make my legs much happier- I'm noticeably less gimpy when getting out of the car and fresher feeling the next morning.

Everyone who tried the KOOL 'N FIT spray liked the sensation it created. No one complained of odd side effects or rashes and one runner went out and bought several of the company's products when his sample was empty (so far, he likes the Sport Performance Spray best). Long-distance riders and runners seemed to like it best as a recovery spray, probably because they don't tend to head out real hard but push their bodies harder overall. As much as I like the idea of spraying my sports for a more sustained delivery, it's just been cool enough that I'm not really sweating much and not feeling the benefit as much as I'd hoped. I'm not worried, though- it'll be plenty hot soon enough.

After two solid months' use (on most rides, though not all), I've gotten about 2/3 through a $15, 4oz bottle of KNF's Sport Performance Spray. As a pre-race pick-me-up or post-ride recovery aid, that seems to me like a very good deal. As an added bonus, the spray is cruelty free as KOOL 'N FIT haven't resorted to animal testing.



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