The prototypical image of the “sports star recovering after a tough game” is the metal ice bath. Sports stars like Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Jake Arrieta have all been seen in these archaic recovery machines that appear to just be glorified backyard coolers with copper siding. Why hasn't anyone created a more advanced means of healing the ailing bodies of the stars that entertain us day in and day out? Well, with a very on-brand move, Nike just did it.
By joining forces with Greg Lynn, an esteemed LA-based architect, Nike was able to create the Microclimate Chair, a futuristic sports recovery chair that can heat and cool targeted sections of the body in the click of a button. Through the use of 70 Peltier thermoelectric pads, athletes are treated to the necessary temperatures applied to their arms, legs, spine and more. And with thermal analysis for the user, the customizable settings can adhere to the athletes particular needs in the moment.
Yes, so far the chair sounds like a larger, more expensive IcyHot pad. The key to this technology is the ability to both heat and cool the necessary areas of the body. Particularly in basketball, players are subjected to short periods of rest followed by intense exertions of energy. The chair can apply heat where the body needs to relax and cold where it needs to recover.
“Down the spinal column is a great place to put a lot of cooling,” Lynn explains. “The muscle groups of the thighs and the calves – you don’t want to let those get cold because they’ll immediately contract. So while we’re bringing down the temperature of someone sitting in the chair, we’re warming up their legs.”
The plan for the Microclimate Chair is to purely use it as part of Nike's “The Nature of Motion” exhibition at Milan Design Week 2016. They have explained in the press and the attached video that this product is in no way expected to be purchased by consumers. The potential uses include training room equipment and even team benches for in-game assistance. The richest athletes may be able to acquire one for personal use in the event that it becomes available in that capacity. And after the year Stephen Curry has been having, it is only a matter of time before players start looking for new and innovative ways to match his skill on the court.
Photo: Greg Lynn/Nike