Spand-Ice simplifies hot, cold therapy on the go
For most of her adult life, Helen Behn has been in discomfort.
“I have suffered from chronic back pain for as long as I can remember,” Behn says. “Part of my everyday routine became heating my back before physical activity and icing afterward, but it wasn’t easy to stick to. A lot of products I tried were uncomfortable, inconvenient and time-consuming to use.”
Behn took matters into her own hands and created Spand-Ice, a wearable thermal-therapy brand.
She did her research, teaming with retail experts and medical advisers, to design and create quality clothing to help relieve back pain. Her first product is the revive tank, which uses hot and cold therapy with adjustable compression for long-lasting effect.
“It’s as simple as putting on your shirt,” Behn says. “Whether you have chronic pain like myself, are recovering from injury or want to push your performance further, our products can help you.”
Behn has extended the line to include the recovery wrap and the maternity relief wrap. The recovery wrap targets back, hip and gluteal areas for on-the-go thermal pain and inflammation relief. The relief wrap helps pregnant women deal with back pain and helps to support the weight of a growing baby.
The revive tank is $150; the recovery wrap is $75. Both include two therapy packs. They fit size small to XXL for men and women. The relief wrap is $100.
The products have dual therapy pockets where thermal packs can be placed. The packs deliver up to three hours of continuous cold therapy. Each pack contains small thermal pillows that have a lower freezing temperature to allow for the longest cold-therapy sessions possible. For heat therapy, the packs can go in the microwave and be reheated as needed every few hours.
Spand-Ice products are effective, says Liz Kennon of Shadyside, a marathoner and organizer of the Pittsburgh Sports League Running Club. She owns the revive tank and the recovery wrap. She says they helped her recovery process.
“Most of my post-run soreness is more in my lower body, so the newer recovery wrap is perfect for me,” Kennon says. “Its large Velcro band allows me to wrap it around pretty much any body part. After I ran the marathon, I had it wrapped around my hamstrings at one point, my knees at another and then even under my feet. The versatility is amazing.”
It took two years and more than 20 prototypes to create a product and used a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the process, Behn says.
In the process of creating the product line, Behn wanted to design pieces that look attractive when worn over or under clothing. She teamed with Jennifer Rocket of Highland Park to be the company’s soft-goods designer. Rocket is a fourth-generation seamstress.
“She is perfect for this business because of her sewing expertise,” Behn says. “If I need something changed or altered, she can do it and she does it well and quickly.”
Dr. James Cosgrove, a physiatrist who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation for Tri Rivers Musculoskeletal Centers in McCandless, Cranberry and Slippery Rock, says he loves the simplicity and the elegance of Spand-Ice products.
“It doesn’t use anything high-tech and it encourages motion,” Cosgrove says. “Being able to move will help with healing, because if you don’t move, you set off a cascade of issues. It definitely works. You just have to get people to buy into it. I recommend it. There isn’t anything negative to it.”
Hot and cold therapy has been around for a long time, and is shown to be effective for certain injuries and ailments, says Frank Velasquez Jr., director of sports performance for Allegheny Health Network.
Heat is often used pre-activity with chronic injuries to help increase circulation — blood cells and oxygen — to the injured body part, he says. Heat also provides overall comfort, helping to get the body moving after long periods of inactivity from sleeping and sitting.
Cold, on the other hand, is often used post-activity with acute and sub-acute injuries to decrease inflammation and swelling caused by the activity. Cold therapy also provides an analgesic effect on the body part, taking pain away for a short period of time, Velasquez says.
Spand-Ice products can be purchased online or at Relax the Back in the East End. Owner Greg Peterson talked with Behn during the research process.
“We’ve been carrying her products because we like them,” he says. “I have used the product while I garden and play golf. It helps keep my muscles loose.”
That’s the goal, Behn says.
“We want these products to be part of a person’s lifestyle,” she says. “To help them on their journey in life to avoid pain. It’s exciting, because I want people to live pain-free.”
Details: 412-423-8882 or spand-ice.com
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7889 or [email protected].