World Cup magic spray: is there a long term cost to instant relief?
30 June 2006
Dr Kershaw, who manages the Man Utd Youth Academy and is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the painkilling effects of this simple combination of chemicals can mask more serious injuries to players.
He said: "If a player goes down injured, that player will almost always rather play on than be substituted as long as it is not obviously serious.
"If magic spray is used on their injury it will numb the pain, but if the injury is more serious than they thought they could end up continuing and aggravating that injury further.
"In today's multi-million pound football industry, clubs simply cannot afford to let that happen."
In virtually every match in the World Cup, millions of viewers worldwide have seen the familiar sight of the physio charging onto the pitch to patch up fallen players - often using a so called 'magic spray' to dull the pain of an injury.
The RSC has looked into the secrets of this miracle in a can that keeps footballers going through the pain barrier after they suffer an injury.
And people may be surprised to find out the 'magic' is a relatively simple combination of chemicals.
Some active ingredients are used to relieve pain and reduce swelling, while others act as 'counter irritants' that causing redness and heat around the site of injury to distract the brain and reduce the sensation of the original pain.
Further ingredients increase blood flow to the injured area to repair damaged tissue.
Although major injuries are often obvious from the outset - such as Michael Owen's knee ligament damage - some minor problems such as muscle strains can become more serious if not rested.
Physiotherapists from various teams in the World Cup have been administering the spray, including on England's Owen Hargreaves during the 1-0 win over Ecuador in the last 16.
Dr Kershaw said: "Another factor reducing the need for spray is that teams can use three substitutes.
"There is no need to risk a player when you can bring up to three others on and restructure the team around those changes."
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