Recovery is incredibly important when it comes to exercising. Whether you’re an athlete or an avid fitness enthusiast, it’s critical to have recovery embedded into your overall training plan.
NormaTec Compression Boots have evolved into what are now a popular recovery tool to help people get back to being active. Celebrities like LeBron James and Drake have been known to use the big, puffy, Michelan-man looking technology, and have publicly expressed their excitement over it.
But some people still aren’t sure exactly what they are, how they operate or how NormaTec compression boots work for recovery. So, below, we’ve outlined what you need to know if you’re thinking about using these devices.
What are NormaTec compression boots?
NormaTec compression boots are an inflatable recovery garment that you place over your entire legs to help you recover from high intensity exercise. They are essentially a leg compression machine connected to a controller, inflating pockets within the garments to a particular pressure you choose.
Technically known as pneumatic compression devices (PCD), they were originally created as a piece of medical equipment. The technology aims to assist improve and increase blood flow.
Today, it is a treatment often used by athletes and people dedicated to their fitness used to increase our blood circulation, reduce muscle soreness and help them perform effectively. It can also be used by pregnant women who wish to release a fluid build up.
What do they feel like?
When undergoing NormaTec treatment with recovery boots, you’ll feel like your blood pressure is being cut off around your ankle. This then moves up the legs, mimicking the feeling of a deep tissue massage. The whole procedure is soothing and calming. Once you take the boots off, you’ll start feeling very light throughout both your legs.
How Does NormaTec compression work in the recovery process?
NormaTec compression machines utilise a patented PULSE Massage Pattern technology, which we’ll outline below.
First, a NormaTec session begins with a ‘pre-inflate cycle’. During this process, the leg moulds of the boots will be moulded into the exact shapes of your limbs. This process takes around 90 seconds.
Next, you’ll begin to feel the compression. This isn’t exactly a ‘squeeze’, but ‘pulsing’ that mimics a muscle pump inside your body. It is therefore different from traditional pneumatic compression. The pulsing will start at your feet and work your way up the leg. You’ll feel like you’re receiving a deep tissue massage.
The pulse technology in a NormaTec boot is designed to work with your lymphatic system and hold the pressure in your body and prevent backflow. This makes sure that the fluid in your body flows in the correct direction.
NormaTec’s patented sequential pulse is different from standard static pressure on your muscles. The boots will release hold pressures in your body when the backflow no longer requires them. This is to make sure every part of leg gets adequate rest during the compression process.
Benefits of NormaTec Compression Boots
The NormaTec boots are known to present a variety of benefits to your body. Some of these benefits has included:
- Pain relief – NormaTec is known to help reduce muscle soreness, especially after intense exercise. It can help you with the leg recovery you’re looking for after an intense gym workout.
- Treat DOMS – Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be managed through 30-minute Normatec sessions, once again by helping improve your blood flow. Although, one study found the opposite in that compression offered ‘little to no benefit in recovery from a prolonged bout of running’.
- Increased ROM – NormaTec may increase your ROM, experiencing less levels of discomfort.
- Improved function of your arteries – one study found that, after a 1-hour session of external pneumatic compression, blood flow and aery endothelial function is improved.
- Prevent deep vein thrombosis – DVT is a condition whereby a blood clot occurs in your vein (typically the legs). Recovery boots can help you mobilise those legs and help fluid pass before a DVT infection occurs. Although, make sure to always visit your doctor as NormaTec boots shouldn’t be used if you already have DVT.
It is important to note, however, that experiences may differ as these benefits may not be experienced by everyone. As we discuss below, the research on these products is very limited and it is important to make your own decision.
Does Normatec compression really work?
Yes, NormaTec compression does work for your recovery and several studies have highlighted multiple benefits from the treatment. But you should always get professional medical advice from your doctor to decide if it works for you.
Anecdotal evidence has supported the use of NormaTec compression. A man wrote in Pop Sugar that the boots are worth the investment and ‘live up to the hype’, reporting that his legs no longer feel as strainer after longer runs despite feeling tight before. One athlete, whose been using the treatment for 8 years, referred to it as a ‘24/7 on-call massage therapist service’.
Several scientific studies have looked at the treatment and how it can effectively work on the body:
- A 2014 paper published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that peristaltic pulse dynamic compression can enhance range of motion.
- One 2017 study published in PLoS One concluded that external pneumatic compression treatment “reduces muscle soreness and attenuates reductions in flexibility”, although the research is yet to be fully explored.
- Another 2019 study published in the International Journal of Exercise Science looked at intermittent pneumatic compression on cyclists. It found that the compression increased the production levels of lactate, a compound responsible for producing energy in your body.
- A 2021 paper in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation found that intermittent pneumatic compression can provide immediate pain relief, but it was no more effective than a massage.
The medical research on these products, however, is limited. Some of the studies that have been published are inconsistent with one another, and others found that PCDs such as NormaTec were really no better than having a deep tissue massage.
Looking to try NormaTec Compression Boots in Sydney?
Our award-winning health and wellness centre here Cryospa Clinics has a comfortable recovery lounge where you can receive quality NormaTec Compression Boot therapy in Sydney in a relaxing and non-judgmental environment.
We’re located in the city’s Northern Shore and have friendly specialists who are committed to finding the right treatment for you to assist your recovery. Helping you can get back to being active as quickly as possible.