The “Magic Sponge”
by Duncan Geddes
How foam helps our sporting heroes break records not bones
One YouTube trip through the superb footage of Ayrton Senna racing a Formula One car and you will see just how free and exposed the Brazilian is in his cockpit.
Think back to the high jump at school, and the thought of landing in a partially-filled sandpit. Or taking to the crease with only a bat and your coordination to prevent those shins being smashed by a spinning speed-ball of leather.
And then there’s “old faithful” – a striker goes down in a flurry of arms and rolls and agonising facial expressions. He clutches his ankle. It’s broken for sure! The team physio rushes onto the pitch, dunks his “magic sponge” into a bucket of ice cold water and dabs the ankle. A moment later, the striker is able to stand – with support mind you and one or two winces – another moment later, he takes a tentative step. It feels ok! It’s not broken after all. The game starts again. Ten minutes later, the striker scores. It’s part of the beautiful game and its power lies not in prevention but in miraculous recovery.
The latest technology on the other hand is all about prevention, not post-injury witchcraft. Take it from a man who ‘s life depended on it…
“I know a thing or two about protective clothing and equipment and although my ski helmet and goggles kept me safe in 1988, technology, materials and design…have all moved on enormously in the 28 years since,” said Great Britain’s Olympic ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards – someone who regularly took off at a height of 90 metres from the side of an ice-covered mountain.
It’s taken for granted now but the sporting landscape has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. You will have felt or witnessed the advantages of those changes, whether you realised it or not; whether you saved yourself from injury, embarrassment or something far worse. Here’s our list of how the latest foams are saving and enabling our sporting wannabes and heroes to practice, perform and produce medals!