I’m reposting this two years later, having now had the Pulse 2.0 Compression Boots for 2.5 years. They’re still good as new, still going strong, and yes, I still recommend them. And major bonus, they’re cheaper than they were back then—when I first wrote this, I said htey were a great value at $899, but now you can get them at $599!!
I am a reluctant convert to compression boots, specifically NormaTec (now owned by HyperIce) recovery boots. I’ve had them for several months now, and while I had mixed feelings going in (more on that in a second), I have really come to love them, and I do use them on an almost-daily basis. They obviously are a bit of a spend in terms of pricetag and in terms of the space that they take up, but I’ve found them to be really helpful making my legs feel fresher, especially as my training volume has been steadily creeping up.
Now, before I get into my thoughts on the NormaTec recovery boots, I do want to caveat it by saying that I don’t think they are something that you *need* as an athlete. Because we’re mindful that our readers have varying budgets, we do want to make it extremely clear that you don’t need all the gadgets and gizmos. And as we’ve said many times before, it’s important to weigh decisions about pricey gear carefully before hitting ‘buy now.’ While some people might not blink at the hefty price tag, I know for many, that’s a lot of hours of babysitting they could be paying for to buy more time for training, it’s half of a new aluminum road bike, and the list goes on. So don’t feel as though we’re in any way suggesting that you must have these boots or your recovery is sub-par. You can absolutely have optimal recovery without them.
Get Normatec Compression Legs here for $599
OK, with that out of the way… I do love these damn boots and I did NOT want to. As per the above paragraph, I really don’t like having a lot of excess gear. But I did want to try them after years of hearing about them from everyone from casual riders to top pros. So, I started using them in the afternoons post-run and did notice a definite difference, especially in terms of how fresh and de-poofed my legs felt, especially during big run volume weeks.
I admit, I was leery of if they would be worth it because I tend to like shiny new techy stuff for a short period, then it just sort of languishes around the house. Not in this case! It’s been 8 months and I’m still using them pretty much every weekday. I’ve found they fit very well into my lifestyle, since I work from home. I can slip them on after lunch and easily work away on articles and other writing work while using them. I know not everyone can just put boots on during the day for an hour (I like anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes), so I do realize that for really busy people, finding time to use them is tricky. I’d say if you can’t see how you’d be able to wear them while working, or in the evening while watching TV or chatting with a friend or partner IRL or over Zoom, I’d be leery about getting them. But if you can see an easy chunk of time to use them, it’s not unlike the feeling of getting a massage! Now, obviously nothing can replace the in-person massage from an expert. However, these will give you a similar flushed out feeling without leaving the house. Even as someone who’s a bit of a stressball, I find they’re akin to a weighted blanket in some ways, and the pressure does tend to leave me feeling really calm and relaxed.
They also force you to just sit still or lie still for however long you set the timer for, so if you’re someone who can never sit still but knows they need to spend some time relaxing, these do lock you in!
Our friend Karen—the one who ran the Bruce Trail!—borrowed them for the adventure and also found they were super helpful in flushing out some of the fluid and inflammation from her legs during and after the 900 kilometer trek. And I admit, I really, really wanted them back in the 2 weeks she had them! (She’s gotten her own set since then.)
Who the recovery boots are for:
- Athletes doing big volume or intensity
- Athletes who work from home and can use them while working, or who have big chunks of free time (i.e can use in evening while watching TV)
- Multi-athlete households where you can share with a partner
- Athletes who know they should do more foam rolling and massage but are pretty darn lazy about actually doing it
- Athletes who deal with a lot of puffiness and inflammation
Who they are probably not for:
- Athletes on a tight budget. I love them, but I don’t think they would be my top spend if I was on a really restricted budget.
- Athletes who work a lot of hours away from home. These work well for me because I can work away while wearing them in the afternoon, but if I was gone from 8 to 8 everyday, as I know many are, they wouldn’t get used as much.
- Athletes who travel a lot but can’t bring everything with them. If you don’t have extra $$ to pay for another bag on a plane, and you spend a lot of time in transit from place to place, something smaller (like a massage gun, if that’s appealing to you) is a more travel-friendly recovery tool.
- Athletes who don’t know if they can commit to using them, but want them. If this is you, try this experiment: Foam roll for 20 minutes each day for at least 2 weeks. If you can make that streak happen AND you still want the boots, go for it.