Chemical Associates provided support to the Research and Innovation team at UK Sport. UK Sport is the organization charged with leading sport in the UK to world class success. Their Research and Innovation team works alongside the UK’s national governing bodies and home country sports institutes to develop novel concepts that will improve the performance of elite UK athletes as they strive for international success.
UK Sport first raised the issues with Dr Chris Drew of SORIS (www.soris.org). Chris is a member of CICA (www.chemical-consultants.co.uk) and passed the problem onto to a fellow member of CICA, Chemical Associates,
1. Menthol is one proposed intervention which is capable of improving the comfort of athletes during thermally stressful environments. Thermal physiologists at the University of Portsmouth wanted to quantify its effect on athletes well-being and performance. Their problem was that in spite of a number of attempts, they were unable to develop a practical method of applying the precise amounts of menthol required.
Chemical Associates has been involved in similar work previously and carried out a series of experiments to test different ways of dispersing menthol in water. Using their knowledge of surfactants and formulation technology, it proved possible to develop a procedure to produce a clear stable low viscosity nano-dispersion of the organic solid in water, as required by the University. The dispersion contains a small quantity of surfactants in addition to the dispersed solid. It did not contain any alcohols, other liquids, fragrances or colouring. As with all soap solutions it should be kept away from the eyes but is hypoallergenic and does not have any other affect on the athletes
With the formulation, the University Team was able to apply precise quantities of menthol to the athletes’ skin and determine its effect on their performance. Their results have been reported in:
"The Influence of menthol on thermoregulation and perception during exercise in warm humid conditions", Gillis, J et al., Eur J Appl Physiol , published on-line, 24 June 2010.
Their conclusion was that the menthol dispersions did induce a cooling sensation but also caused some irritation. The control dispersion containing the surfactant, but no menthol, did not cause irritation.
2) Maintaining fitness requires continuous training, much of which is carried out in weight training facilities. The medical director of the English Institute for Sport noticed that training schedules were being interrupted by athletes picking up infections. One source of these infections are the gym environments, where athletes train in close proximity, taking turns to use the same equipment. Antiseptic hand washes are available to combat these infections. Most are alcohol based which, with repeated use, damage the skin and are painful on cuts. Others contain moisturizing oils which leave residues on the hand, impair performance and can be a danger to athletes working with heavy lifting equipment.
A hand wash was required that was effective at killing all infections, did not leave residues on the athletes hands, would not cause an allergic response and which was pleasant and convenient to use.
With an understanding of the customer’s requirements, Chemical Associates used their industrial knowledge to source a product which had the required characteristics. The product selected is an aqueous blend of biocides and surfactants which accredited tests have shown to be effective against a wide range of organisms including:
MRSA (6 strains)
Fungi: Candida Albicans, Aspergillus Niger
GRE - Glycopeotide Resistant Enterococcus
Streptococcus equus and uberis
Food organisms: Salmonella choleraeusuis,
Campylobacter, Listeria, and Klebsiella
STD organisms, etc
The solution was originally developed to fight infections in hospitals and areas used for food preparation. It was modified for use by athletes and was launched as "Gym Shield". "Gym Shield" is hypoallergenic and does not contain alcohol, colouring or fragrances.
"Gym Shield" is manufactured in a modern ISO GMP accredited factory in the North West of England. It is dispensed from attractive individual 50ml bottles, whenever the athlete starts to work out on a new piece of apparatus. One or two squirts of the sanitizer into the palm of the hand and rubbing the hands together provides an effective coating which kills microorganisms and remains effective for up to an hour. Within a minute the hands are dry and the athlete is able to continue training. Chalk can be applied, if required, once the hands are dry.
Team England took Gym Shield with them to the Commonwealth Games in Mumbai, India in October 2010.