What's the ‘Magic Spray' That Soccer Players Use on the Pitch?

What's the ‘Magic Spray' That Soccer Players Use on the Pitch? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

This is a scene you could witness multiple times throughout the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

A player goes to the ground with an injury, one severe enough to warrant medical attention. That leads to a trainer from the injured player’s team coming onto the field to examine the knock.

The trainer then breaks out a can and sprays the injured area of the player’s body, which would look something like this:

Finally, the player either remains in the game or is subbed out.

So what is in the aerosol spray, which has picked up the nickname “magic spray,” that trainers use to treat some in-game soccer injuries?

Well, there’s not one particular spray that’s used across the sport. A 2006 story from Slate on the topic laid out some of the different types of substances that could be coming out of the mysterious can:

“They might use cold water, for example, to cool off an overheated athlete. Or they might spray an abrasion with a tincture of benzoin so they can stick a bandage on some sweaty skin. It’s safe to assume that some magic spray cans contain “skin refrigerants,” chemicals like ethyl chloride that freeze and numb the surface of the skin on contact.”

A skin refrigerant, which was noted above, is an anesthetic numbing agent that could be deployed as magic spray for injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions.

No, a skin refrigerant doesn’t magically heal any and all injuries. But the cold spray could provide temporary pain relief to a player in order for them to continue competing in a match.