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Runners World Review: Indulge Weary Muscles With the NormaTec Pulse Recovery System
Just press play and let these inflatable massage boots do the work for you.
The right tool for: Recovering with dynamic compression—and feeling like an elite doing it
RW has covered NormaTec’s Pulse Recovery System in the past, and the boots have gone down as the stuff of legends; any mention of recovery gear and staff were asking, “Are we going to get in the NormaTec boots? Who’s going to test them?” As a NormaTec virgin, I was skeptical of these miracle boots everyone was so crazed about, but after I unpackaged the Pulse Recovery System, slid the boots on, and pressed play on the control unit, I’m thinking a weekly—or twice-weekly—NormaTec session will be that new habit I just can’t quit.
Unpacking the NormaTec seemed like a daunting project; it’s a five-piece kit that includes a control unit, hose, charger, and a boot for each leg. After PR’ing at a 5K, followed by performing the usual obligatory weekend activities—laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping (so I don’t fall back on eating takeout tacos for lunch)—the last thing I wanted to do was build IKEA furniture. Fortunately, NormaTec has nothing to do with suspect leftover screws and bolts or Swedish meatballs. Configuration took less than three minutes, and the payoff was totally worth it.
NormaTec uses a dynamic compression system to massage your limbs (the company sells hip and arms packages, as well). The boots inflate and squeeze through a series of zones from your feet to your hips to enhance blood flow. All you have to do is set the session time and level of compression, and then press play. There is also a zone boost, in case there are parts of your legs that need extra TLC.
The Elite Treatment
The compression levels run from 1 to 7. I’ll admit notching it up to 5 made me grimace when the boots squeezed in certain areas (every time zone 2 compressed, I thought my ankle would pop), but it felt luxurious just sitting with my laptop and a glass of wine, and letting the boots work their magic. Marathoners Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi are among the many professional athletes who use NormaTec as a part of their recovery regimen, so you could say I felt like I was getting the elite treatment. My legs were refreshed after only a 30-minute session. My only hangup is the four-figure cost (£1650). It’s a pricey investment, so maybe for a Christmas/birthday/apartment-warming gift. Anyone?