Normatec boots for recovery, thoughts?

Hello everyone,

I wanted to see if somebody has had experience with Normatec boots (or a similar type of device). I like what I’ve been hearing, but I have not had the chance to test them, and probably will not unless I buy them. Do they really help? how do they measure up against a real massage session? I have a big multi day event next year and I think something like this could help.

Thanks a lot.

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@Juanale81,

You pose a great question, and I’m sure you’re not the only one wondering about compression devices for recovery. I personally have a NormaTec device (though it’s an older model now, from 2015 so it may be slightly different from the newest versions), but I have also used the Rapid Reboot and Elevated Legs brands as well. The compression and “massage” you get from these devices is not the same as a deep tissue massage, but it certainly feels good and I do think it’s enough to keep the blood moving, thus flushing out and bringing fresh blood and nutrients to the muscles, which
helps speed up the recovery process.
In addition, the convenience of being able to use it immediately after your training session in the comfort of your home may be the best argument for them. How often can you get a massage right after a hard workout? For most people that’s not very practical so this is a great alternative. The compression can help reduce inflammation and swelling, as well as help you switch from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state right away. This is important because your recovery cannot begin until your nervous system is in a parasymathetic state- this is your body’s “rest and digest” mode where recovery happens. If you finish training and rush off to work or whatever other stress you have to deal with, your body will stay in the catabolic (sympathetic) state and continue to break down. By sitting down (with a recovery drink in hand) and relaxing for 10-30 minutes, your body will recognize that the stress has passed and it’s time to rest and recover. Just remember that mental stress can also keep you or put you in a sympathetic state, so don’t go diving into your work email if you know it’s likely to stress you out. Instead, consider listening to some relaxing music or reading a book. You’ll probably find that you drift off in a little nap as a result- I usually do!

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I remember doing a video meeting with Sir @Coach.Neal.H and he was in his Normatech talking to me while I was sat at my desk. The sports science team gets all the cool gadgets.

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Last summer at Apex we got to try both the Normatec boots and massage guns. While I appreciated what the boots were trying to do, it didn’t feel like the fit was perfect and the tension was not even as a wave of compression rolled up my legs. It was either too loose or too tight. Then I tried the massage gun and was in heaven. I could put that puppy right where I was sore and either go easy or go hard to work on a sore spot or really dig into a knot. I liked the massage gun so much I bought a cheap one on Amazon when I got home. I use it all the time and still love it. YMMV.

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Sir @michael.cotty provides them for his Col Collective guests.

They felt ok (provided you don’t put them on the highest setting…) but I’m not certain there was much in the way of objective benefit for me. Mind you @SirPascal spent hours in them and was very enthusiastic…

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Don’t the cost as much as a new bike or new wheels? I’d buy another bike first!

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I would do some research on the different brands. I really liked the massage setting on the Elevated Legs. It was more of a continuous motion of compression and release than the Normatec, which is more compress and hold, then release. I think Rapid Reboot also has a nice smooth feel and some of them definitely cost less than Normatec. I only have Normatec because they were free to me through sponsorship at the time. Different devices definitely have different pros and cons. It’s all about which ones you think you’d use more or benefit more from.

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Indeed ! After every ride i did enjoy the use of them. First time user of this device, i found myself using them longer and at highest settings daily. AfterTourmalet, i did fell asleep for an hour with the boots on at the highest level…

I used them because they were there, were great to use and needed every “marginal gains” i could get.

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  1. Is there any benefit you could get from plain compression sleeves on your quads and calves without having to resort to these somewhat expensive options?

  2. Can a massage gun actually do more harm than good if used incorrectly on larger muscles?

Just wondering as sometimes too much of a good thing used incorrectly could set you back rather Han set you up.

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Here’s Evelyn Stevens using the Normatec’s (at a relatively low setting) just before warming up for her successful UCI Hour Record ride. She also used them in recovery after workouts. I’d say, if you feel good after using them then they likely work :wink:

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I’ve only used the Normatec system and although it’s not really comparable to a sports massage per say, I like the feel of the deep compression and have personally found that my legs feel lighter and less fatigued, both immediately after using and the following day. Had many a guest enjoying their recovery powers too after a big day in the mountains. :muscle:

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Thanks for the responses!

Very useful insight. I have signed up for an epic seven day mtb event next year, in which I will definitely need all the help I can get, including massages. There’s a massage upgrade, which includes a massage before and after each stage.

The upgrade is not cheap, so I was thinking about using part of that money to buy the boots and forego the massage package. However, I think I will stick to the upgrade and also get the boots at some point for my regular training. From your comments I take it that there’s no substitute for a real massage.

Thanks a lot.

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