In 2007, medical device company NormaTec took its technology originally used to treat circulatory problems and introduced it to athletes with NormaTec MVP. It wasn’t long before college sports teams, the Navy SEALs and pro cycling teams were using the boots. Pro triathletes also love them—Craig Alexander even wore his en route to greet late-night finishers at the Ironman World Championship last year.
But at more than £3,000, only the elite could afford this type of innovative compression until recently. A few companies now offer more accessible (relatively speak- ing) boots. NormaTec even has a lower-end version due out this year, the price anticipated to be around £1,200.
We tested RecoveryPump and PodiumLegs for a couple of months. Both offered similar benefits that we loved: a feel-good massage that made recovery after long days of training much easier, but their pumping patterns separate the two systems.
» How it works: PodiumLegs, created by pro cyclist Phil Gaimon, allow you to select how you want the air to compress. You have four options: point setting (specific muscles), sequential setting (foot to thigh), four chamber (all at once) or variable (random). There are also four power levels of pressure. The boot material feels cheaper than the RecoveryPump and one tester said he “felt like I wasn’t getting even compression on my entire leg, specifically the area right above my knee.” Gaimon wanted to keep costs low by marketing to athletes instead of doctors, meaning he didn’t need the same (pricey) level of approval as companies whose products can be billed to insurance.
» Size: One size fits all, with an included extender for larger legs. They are a pretty slim fit.
» Timing: 15-minute cycle, which goes by fast. Thankfully, resetting the device with a remote allows you to stay put.
• Price. £400 is cheaper than a year’s worth of regular massages.
• Portable (5kg) and compact.
• Various settings are nice when you have a specific muscle to target.
• The remote is a bonus when you’re smashed after a long run. Just don’t lose it.
Recovery Pump System
» How it works: The unit has four air chambers that fill up starting at the foot and working up to the hip—called sequential pressure—within 40 seconds. The process repeats itself until you hit the off switch, making it easy to accidentally fall asleep while recovering. (It happens easily, trust us.) RecoveryPump suggests 60–80 mmHg of pressure for optimal circulation; a knob on the side lets you easily adjust. The pressure felt “just right” and compressed evenly throughout the entire leg— it kept us coming back for more. Tip: If you want to try a pair, RecoveryPump offers “recovery lounges” at certain Ironman events.
» Size: Five different leg lengths, which can properly fit athletes 137cm to 213cm tall
» Timing: Continuous. The only downside is that you lose track of how long you’ve been using them.
• Dummy-proof on and off switch.
• Even pressure from foot to thigh.
• The foot chamber squeezes on top and bottom, which feels fantastic on the arches.
• Full zipper makes for easy in-and-out entry.