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Aquilo: a Normatec and Game Ready Combined
- Introduction and how does it work
- Dynamic air compression
- How icing works as a recovery tool
- Benefits of Ice and Compression
- Scientific evidence to support the use of Aquilo
- When to use them
Introduction and how does it work:
The Aquilo Ice and Compression Full Leg Recovery System is a medical device designed to aid in post-workout recovery and injury management. Aquilo have combined both cold therapy and dynamic compression to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and improve circulation of the entire leg (rather than just segmented areas like the Game Ready). But how do they work?
Consisting of a pair of compression legs, a cooling unit, and hoses that circulate water and air throughout the garment, the Aquilo has been designed to cover the majority of the lower extremities (including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes). Split into two parts, the control unit allows the user to use the dynamic air compression element on its own, or, in conjunction with the ice cold water. This means that you don’t have to always use it for ice, and you want to reap the benefits of up to 150mmHg compression!
When the ice cold water element of the control unit is turned on, it works by chilling water, and circulating it through the leg sleeves, targeting the areas which need it most. This water is circulated around either leg, and then pumped back into the control unit to be chilled again once it is warmed up by the lower extremities. Simultaneously, the boots use air compression to increase blood flow and circulation. By doing this, the system speeds up the recovery process, and has been described to combine the features of both the Normatec and Game Ready. To dig deeper, we need to break down how each element of the Aquilo leg recovery system works, and how it helps our recovery.
Dynamic Air Compression:
Dynamic air compression has been around for many years, with different models such as Normatec, RecoveryAir and Pulsio leading the way in the current market. Principally, each model aims to achieve the same goal. Based on the principles of compression therapy, these boots inflate different chambers at a time, creating a squeezing or compression effect on the tissues of the legs and feet. From a science point of view, this squeezes the veins and lymphatic vessels, which help to increase blood and lymphatic flow. As the pressure of the chambers are released, blood and lymphatic fluid are able to flow more freely, which helps reduce swelling and improve circulation.
How icing works as a recovery tool:
Ice is commonly used as a sport recovery treatment because of its ability to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. The scientific basis for the use of ice in sports recovery is based on the principles of cryotherapy, which has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle function. When ice or cooling is applied to a painful or injured area of the body, it causes vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to the area, which can help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Additionally, the cold temperature of the ice helps to numb the area, which can reduce pain and discomfort. Particularly if you have just suffered an injury, ice would be a key factor in speeding up the recovery process.
Benefits of the ice and compression:
Now that we know what the elements of the Aquilo do, it is important to understand how to combine the two work together. There are multiple benefits of using the Aquilo ice and compression recovery system, and these are:
- Reduced Inflammation: the cold therapy and dynamic compression provided by the system help to reduce inflammation in the muscles and surrounding tissues, which can speed up recovery and alleviate pain.
- Improved circulation: The dynamic compression feature of the system helps to increase blood flow to the affected areas, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and helping to flush out waste products.
- Faster recovery: By reducing inflammation and improving circulation, the Aquilo Leg Recovery System can help athletes and individuals recover faster from workouts or injuries.
- Non-invasive and drug-free: The system is a non-invasive and drug-free option for managing pain and promoting healing, making it a safe and convenient option for people who want to avoid medication or invasive procedures.
- Customizable: The system allows users to adjust the level of compression and temperature to suit their individual needs, providing a custom recovery experience.
- Convenience: The wearable design of the system allows users to continue their daily activities while recovering, making it a convenient option for busy individuals or athletes who need to keep up with their training schedule.
Scientific Evidence to support the use of Aquilo:
Very little research has been conducted into the combination of both ice and compression when used together, as it is a relatively new concept in sports recovery. However, some researchers have already put the Aquilo to the test. DuPont et al. (2017) investigated the ‘Effects of Combining Cryocompression Therapy following an Acute Bout of Resistance Exercise on Performance and Recovery’, with a particular focus on the Aquilo leg recovery system. They found that the Aquilo ice and compression system reduced muscle damage (by up to 40% over 48 hours after exercise), reduced pain, improved sleep quality and allowed individuals to generate more power post exercise. This clinical evidence suggests that using the Aquilo system will benefit athletes recovering from exercise.
Disadvantages of Aquilo:
- One off cost: The Aquilo is unfortunately not cheap. Priced at £2495, this can be seen as quite the hit. But, if you want to invest in your recovery and the recovery of others, you will reap the benefits. If you were looking at a more affordable option, the Powerplay portable ice and compression device would probably be considered a better option for you. On the contrary, the Powerplay does not cover the entire legs, only sections at a time (ie - ankle, knee, hip etc).
- Amount of ice required: If you do not have an ice machine readily available, this product is probably not suitable for you. This machine uses roughly 12-24 ice cubes in a single use.
On the whole, the Aquilo ice and compression leg recovery system is a versatile piece of equipment. The portability, overall design and recovery results it generates suggest that this is a must have. Yes, the one-off cost may be expensive, but if you are willing to invest in your recovery, this is the best product out there right now. By combining the technology of market leading recovery models, Game Ready and Normatec, Aquilo have developed a product which really is intuitive but practical for the everyday user.
Why should I use this over a compression device?
Have you recently suffered or are coming back from injury? Then these would be the ideal times to use the Aquilo boots. In fact, you can use these boots WHENEVER, as they will always aid your recovery.
Having the ability to switch off the ice and just use the compression boots is also a great feature. If you want a generalised massage rather than using the ice (if you’re not injured), then this is a great option to reap the rewards of increased blood flow / recovery times.
What air pressure does the Aquilo go up to?
The Aquilo reaches an air pressure of up to 150 mmHg, which is actually more than the Normatec / RecoveryAir models.
Health Implications of Aquilo?
We would recommend that you do not use the Aquilo if you have any of the following health conditions:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Bone joint tuberculosis
- Blood circulation issues
- Underlying heart problems
- Deep Vein Thrombosis - this is the ‘DO NOT’ with any air compression
When should I use the Aquilo?
For the generic athlete looking to enhance their recovery time, the best time to use these would be post exercise. Aquilo suggests that a 15-20 minute treatment post exercise can increase recovery time by 40%. If you are suffering from a particular injury, or you are going through rehabilitation, using the Aquilo system 2-3 times a day will increase blood flow and reduce swelling on a particular area.
What is the battery life on the head unit?
The battery of the Aquilo will last for over 3 hours with just the compression element running. However, with ice and compression together, you will probably get around 4-5 treatments out of the device (1-2 hours). It will work when plugged into the mains though.
References:DuPont, W. H., Meuris, B. J., Hardesty, V. H., Barnhart, E. C., Tompkins, L. H., Golden, M. J., ... & Kraemer, W. J. (2017). The effects combining cryocompression therapy following an acute bout of resistance exercise on performance and recovery. Journal of sports science & medicine, 16(3), 333.