It’s a scene familiar to any soccer fan. A player goes down after a collision or misstep, the trainer runs onto the pitch with a trusty kit in hand, the contents of a mysterious aerosol are released on the affected area and, within seconds, the player emerges anew and is able to continue play. A miracle has just happened before our eyes! The miracle of magic spray.
Clearly magic spray works wonders, but what exactly is in this enigmatic aerosol? Does it contain rare ingredients from a faraway land? Is it all just a magic trick? It sure looks like it could be just fog and sleight of hand.
The anticipation is killing us. Cue drum roll.
First, it's important to note that not all cans are created equal. Some first aid sprays might contain a tincture of benzoin, a resin that makes a sticky surface on sweaty skin in order to better place bandages. Others might hold nothing more than cold water. A spritzer of H20 can go a long way to reinvigorate an overheated athlete.
However, the can of magic spray we’ve come to know and love for its injury-healing abilities typically contains one or more “skin refrigerants." These chemicals, such as ethyl chloride, act as a temporary anesthetic. They are a quick fix in their ability to numb an area for a few minutes, but do not provide any long-lasting relief.
It seems the spray’s most powerful component may not actually be a concrete ingredient at all. A lot of its potency could simply stem from the placebo effect. Just the image of the physio wielding magic spray might be the reason behind an athlete’s miraculous rehabilitation. Perhaps the injury as well was not as life-threatening as the player writhing on the ground led onlookers to believe.
So there you have it, magic spray revealed. It’s no key to world peace, but hopefully it will help you sleep a bit easier from now on.