Review: RecoveryPump System

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Full disclosure: I am wearing the RecoveryPump System RecoveryBoots while writing a review of the RecoveryPump System RecoveryBoots. Why do I mention this? Well for starters, I was intrigued by the possibility of real time reviewing. This is not the first time I’ve zipped on these giant gray nylon boots. (RoadBikeReview actually took delivery about three weeks ago.) But what better way to elucidate on something than to do so while using said something.

Really, though, I’m using and reviewing at the same time because I just got back from a solid two-hour road spin and love using these things as part of, you guessed it, my recovery routine. And while I wont sit here and tell you that I’ve been smashing Strava PRs left and right and it’s all because of the RecoveryPump System. I can say that the legs seem to be snapping back a little quicker after tough rides, and that occasional bouts of nighttime restless leg syndrome have abated since I started using the boots. Is there an absolute direct connection? I honestly have no idea. But I will say the empirical evidence is fairly compelling.

The idea of marketing this type of product to athletes was spawned back in the mid-2000s, when medical device company NormaTec (primary competitor of RecoveryPump) repurposed technology that was originally aimed at treating circulatory issues.

Today the target market remains endurance athletes who use their legs a lot. But frankly anyone who likes a little soothing R&R time – and has an extra $1100 – would enjoy having a pair of these boots kicking around the house. (By the way, NormaTec is still in the recovery game, and has two models, which start at $1750. We have not tested either one, and thus can not make comparisons to the RecoveryPump System outside of the price difference, which is significant.)

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First a little more about the product in question. The RecoveryPump System RecoevryBoots is just what it sounds like, a pair of boots and pump designed to enhance leg muscle recovery via what’s called sequential compression.

Translation: These four-chamber, leg-length boots use air to compress your legs starting at the feet and working upwards to the top of the thighs, the idea being that this sequential compression helps reduce muscle fatigue by flushing out metabolic waste and increasing blood circulation. The RecoveryBoots inflate a chamber at a time until all four chambers are inflated, then release air simultaneously. It’s akin to the strategy utilized by sports massage therapists who work outward in, trying to push toxins out of your legs and back towards your core.

The amount of pressure and time between compressions are adjusted via two simple-to-operate dials located on the pump itself (this can be done before and/or during use). The included instructions recommend using 60-80 mmHg of pressure, and running the pause time at 10-15 seconds. But if that’s uncomfortable or causing numbness or tingling, simply increase the pause time or reduce the pressure, though the instructions also say that anything below 40 mmHg is essentially a waste a time.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been running the RecoveryPump System at around 65mmHg with 10-second cycles for 30-40 minutes post-workout and been happy with the outcome. My time in the boots has been soothing and relaxing, and as I mentioned before, I’ve felt a little fresher on the bike from one day to the next.

Initial set-up is easy. Just match each of the four color coded air hoses to their corresponding color coded air inlets, then plug the other end of these hoses into the pump, which is roughly the size of a small shoebox. Now zip on the boots, sit back or lay down (no standing or walking around allowed), turn the switch to on, and away you go. There is no timer on the device, so check your watch before you start to keep track. The included instructions say there is no set time limit, though the general recommendation is 30-45 minutes. Personally, I’m usually ready to zip them off after about 40 minutes.

Other notable highlights include portability (the whole package easily bundles up inside a small duffel bag), and variable sizing (the boots are available in five sizes, so even at 6-foot-4, I’m able to get full leg coverage). It’s also worth noting that my 5-foot-5 wife has happily been using the size Large boots with no issues.

Lowlights include the non-breathability of the boot material. Being that we are talking about air compression, I assume this is unavoidable. And if you are posted up in a cool place, it’s not a big deal. But as temperatures on Colorado’s Front Range have started to rise, I’ve found that wearing the boots during hotter times of day in my non-air-conditioned Boulder townhome can be a little clammy.

It is worth mentioning that RecoveryPump is working on a removable/washable cloth insert for the boots for use by consumers who have multiple athletes pumping throughout the day. The intention is that this insert will help collect sweat. Also RecoveryPump recommends that users always wear loose fitting pants or tights when using the boots. That doesn’t mean things wont heat up in some instances, but at least you don’t end with that sweaty-skin-on-car-seat feeling.

I’ve also found that while the leg pressure is tolerable and soothing, side pressure on my feet is sometimes a little uncomfortable (think having your toes squeezed together from the sides). It’s not overwhelming, but still worth mentioning.

Bottom line, if you are a serious endurance athlete, or just have a chunk of disposable income kicking around, the RecoveryPump System is worth a serious look. If you figure you’d spend about $75 an hour for recovery massage (and you get massage often) then you’ll break even after about 30 half-hour uses. And if you prefer to try before you buy (always a good idea) see if you can find a recovery “lounge” in your area. These members only recovery-centric clubs are popping up all over the place, offering access to a variety of services, sometimes including RecoveryBoots, which right now I need to take off.

RecoveryPump System

Price: $1100

Pros

  • Ease of set-up
  • Ease of use and adjustability
  • Full length zipper for easy on and off
  • Portability (entire unit fits inside small duffel)
  • Variable sizing (available in five lengths)
  • Sequential compression with four separate chambers

Cons

  • Side-to-side toe pressure
  • Non-breathability
  • Not cheap

More Info: www.RecoveryPump.com

Review: RecoveryPump System Gallery
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About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures in British Columbia, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, and Peru among many others. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in January, 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and edited a book on cycling tips. When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying the great outdoors with his wife Lisa.


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  • Mike Laughlin says:

    … and I thought edema garments were expensive (Medicaid durable medical equipment specialist). You can get custom-made, compression leg-graments for about $450 … and over the counter compression garments for less than a hundred. However, the author’s tepid evaluation, “… felt a little fresher on the bike from one day to the next.” doesn’t seem like seventeen hundred dollars of value.
    .

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