About Polar Gel Wrap

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Published on: Sep 5, 2017

If you’re experiencing pain caused by arthritis, muscle sprains and strains, or injury-related inflammation, Polar Gel Wrap promises to deliver 360-degree cooling and compression that can provide instant relief—without refrigeration.

To use, remove from the pouch, unroll, and wrap the self-adhering elastic fabric around whatever area is bothering you, whether your knees, calves, ankles, elbows, wrists, shoulders, or back. The gel-infused evaporative cooling will immediately go to work, and the tighter it’s wrapped, the more compression it will provide.

From there, the website tells us that Polar Gel Wrap will continue providing this cooling therapy for up to two hours. When you’re finished, remove, re-roll, place in the resealable bag, and add a teaspoon of water before storing. Then, it’ll be ready the next time you need its two-in-one cooling and compression.

Clearly, Polar Gel Wrap seems to have a lot going for it; it doesn’t require refrigeration, is reusable, it provides cooling and compression, is guaranteed to stay in place, there’s no mess or smell involved, and the company indicates it’s great for athletes, seniors, kids, and parents alike.

When it comes down to it, though, does this product really represent advanced recovery from pain and inflammation, as claimed on the website? Does it even represent a valuable use of your money?

You’ve come here looking for some actionable answers, so let’s dive right in and discuss what we learned during our research.

The Relationship Between Cooling, Compression, & Pain Relief

Question: The Polar Wrap website and commercial frequently reference arthritis, sprains and strains, and many other types of injury. What do they have in common?

In a nutshell, they all cause some type of inflammation, which can lead to painful, stiff muscles and joints. And according to Healthline, applying cold to an inflamed area can help reduce blood flow, as well as relieve pain by reducing nerve activity.

Conversely, general compression (not specifically what’s provided by Polar) boosts blood flow to a region, which can also help ease pain and swelling. In fact, medical-grade compression garments have been clinically shown to improve wound healing.

Combined, this is largely why medical professionals frequently recommend rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) immediately following an injury, which is intended to maximize pain relief and reduce swelling.

Now, the concept of compression seems pretty straightforward; the fabric squeezes whatever it’s wrapped around. And the tighter it’s wrapped, the more it squeezes and the greater compression it delivers.

But how in the world does Polar Wrap deliver reusable cooling, without the need for refrigeration? Let’s take a quick look.

How Does the Polar Gel Wrap Deliver Cold Therapy?

We didn’t test Polar ourselves or find any direct online customer feedback for the product during our research, but the website informs us that the wrap works based on a concept known as evaporative cooling.

Perhaps one of the best-known examples of this concept is sweating, where each droplet absorbs a small amount of heat, which is then pulled away as the sweat evaporates. Combined, over a much larger area (i.e., the entire surface of the skin), the sweating process helps quickly remove a meaningful amount of heat and cool the body down.

However, unlike other forms of cold therapy (such as an ice pack), a non-refrigerated evaporative cooling wrap like Polar will only be able to cool your skin to the surrounding air temperature, or perhaps a couple of degrees cooler, due to the moisture content.

While this could obviously be helpful if you’re hot and need to cool down, this moderate coolness will not provide the same level of inflammation reduction as something much colder (again, like an ice pack), since it won’t constrict blood vessels.

Side Effects & Other Considerations For Polar Gel Wrap

Because evaporative cooling wraps can’t drop to a temperature that’s meaningfully cooler than the surrounding air, the good news is that users won’t have to worry about damaging tissue due to cold.

However, there’s always a danger of wrapping too tight, which can be alleviated by ensuring that you’re not experiencing any tingling or numbness after a few minutes.

Anytime water’s involved, there’s also the possibility of microbe contamination and bacteria buildup, so you’ll want to make sure you clean out your Polar bag on a regular basis. We reached out to customer service via email and voicemail about the wrap’s washability and potential microbe resistance, and will be sure to update this article as soon as a response is received.

How Much Does Polar Gel Wrap Cost?

Two Polar Gel Wraps are priced at $19.99, plus $13.98 S&H.

All orders come with a 30-day refund/warranty policy, less S&H charges.

Note: On Polar’s Customer Service page, the company references a Deluxe model, although no additional details are provided. Again, we sent an email to the company and left a message in their general voicemail, and hope to receive a response soon.

The only way to request a refund is by contacting Lenfest Media Group LLC at PolarGelWrap@TVOrderStatus.com. We also located their corporate number through their corporate site, which is 215-239-9000.

Polar vs. Other Cooling Therapy Gel Wraps

We briefly referenced the competition earlier, but now it’s time to go more in-depth. This way, you can better understand the relative bang-for-your-buck provided by other options.

Finding out just how many competitors Polar is up against is as easy as typing variations of the phrase “evaporative gel cooling compression wrap” into Google, which returned dozens of products at the time of our research.

Some of these were designed for specific body parts, such as the head, neck, or wrist, while others—such as ColdFlex, CoolXChange, and Arctic Ease, to name just a few random examples—appeared to be functionally identical to Polar.

As such, most were non-refrigerated, and all claimed to work based on the principle of evaporative cooling. Price-wise, functionally similar sports wraps ranged in price between $15 and $40, putting Polar Wrap at the upper end of the spectrum after factoring in the non-refundable S&H charges.

Speaking of which, some of these cooling wraps were available at local retailers, potentially saving S&H fees and making the return process as easy as hopping in your car if you’re dissatisfied.

Other than factors like pricing and refund details, are there any other important things to keep in mind about evaporative cooling wraps?

  • Always make sure the fabric doesn’t contain any potential allergy-causing components, such as latex, depending on your situation. This is also something we reached out to customer service about.
  • Make sure you wrap the area properly (here’s an example for a sprained ankle) for maximum relief, which will vary depending on the injury you’re looking to address.
  • Only use these wraps only for as long as you would normally apply ice (about 10 minutes every hour). They generally shouldn’t be used for longer than 24-48 hours without seeking medical help if the condition doesn’t improve.
  • Also, according to Rod Brouhard, EMT-P, the width of the bandage directly dictates where it can be used: “The wider the bandage, the more compression you get without blocking actual blood flow. Typically, for an adult arm or leg, you want to use a 3- or 4-inch bandage.”

On the other hand, he emphasizes that, “adult fingers and kids' arms and legs can get away with the narrower 2-inch width bandage.” Our question about Polar Wrap’s width is pending a response from customer service.

Our Final Thoughts About the Polar Gel Wrap

Will Polar Gel Wrap deliver on its claims?

As we learned earlier, sites like Healthline and WebMD indicate that problems with arthritis, muscle sprains and strains, and many types of injuries often involve inflammation. Also, that this inflammation can often be reduced using some form of compression.

Therefore, although we didn’t test the product firsthand, it seems reasonable that the adjustable compression provided by Polar Gel Wrap could deliver some measure of relief from inflammation.

The evaporative cooling the product delivers seems like it also might help cool you down a few degrees (basically, to the surrounding air temperature), which could come in especially handy if you’re overheated and injured from playing sports.

Finally, without the need for tape, you won’t have to worry about the wrap sticking to your skin, and with a 30-day refund policy, you’ll be able to get some of your money back if it doesn’t work out.

On the other hand, based on this limited cooling ability, we’d imagine that Polar’s compression might play the biggest role in reducing inflammation.

And given the fact that a standard compression/elastic wrap (such as an Ace bandage) can be purchased for as little as $5—many of which are available locally and can even be wetted to provide similar evaporative cooling—as consumers ourselves, it’s difficult to rationalize putting $15 of our hard-earned money on the line to figure out if Polar Gel Wrap will deliver better results.

As always though, if you’re looking for medically sound advice based on your specific injury and diagnosis, the best bang-for-the-buck often revolves around speaking with your doctor.

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