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Accessories • December 18, 2018

NormaTec Pulse Recovery System Review

From professional athlete promotions to friends’ posts on Instagram, it seems that NormaTec, the athlete recovery boot system, is everywhere these days. You may have seen them at a post-race demo, and you may have even lined up for a few minutes of heaven, but imagine having a massage therapist on call 24/7. Because that’s how I feel with my recently purchased NormaTec PULSE Recovery System.

NormaTec wasn’t always intended for athlete recovery. The company originally started as a device to assist with blood circulation issues. However, athletes soon realized the benefits to assist with recovery by reducing muscle soreness and temporarily increasing circulation using compression.

Studies have been done on compression and recovery. It’s too technical for me to fully understand, so I won’t get into them. This review is strictly anecdotal, based on my own personal use and thoughts.

The Good

Having your own compression recovery system sounds incredibly overwhelming and tough to use. I promise it’s not. After waiting for a week for my order to ship because of the backorder, I received my setup. Inside the box was the NormaTec PULSE control unit, hosing, power supply, leg attachments, a quick user guide, and a hat (one of these things is not like the other).

Setting up the system couldn’t have been easier. Plug the power supply into the control unit and wall. Plug one end of the hose into the unit. Step into the boots, zip them up, sit down, and plug them into the other end of the hose. Press the power button, pick how long you want the session to last, pick the compression level from 1-7, and then push start.

The PULSE system has 5 overlapping zones, starting from the feet and going all the way up the legs, for guaranteed gapless compression. You can even zone boost for a specific area for which you want more compression.

Once started, air begins filling the leg chambers to mold to your body. After that, the joyful compression begins working its way up your legs.

I expected the control unit to be much louder because it’s obviously working hard, but I was pleasantly surprised. The sound is more of a low hum when filling up and a slight whoosh as the chambers empty. I was easily able to turn the TV on and not be distracted. Also, my fiancée never yelled at me for being too loud when she was trying to sleep… PHEW!

The unit contains a rechargeable battery so you can take it on the go. Mine went through three, 30-minute sessions over two days and still had some battery left. That’s more than enough for me.

I really like how durable the boots feel. Expenses were not spared when creating the whole system. I was worried that with my large tree trunk thighs it would strain the boots, but nothing at all feels like it’s bursting at the seams or struggling to work as intended. Don’t worry if you have big legs like me or are gifted with a thigh gap, it still works!

Sow how do I feel? Well, I’ve been using the NormaTec boots every day for 30 minutes since I’ve gotten them (I’m wearing them right now as I write this), and it has been pure bliss. Whether it’s after a short track workout, a Saturday long run, or an ass-kicking lower body gym session, I’m putting on the boots. My legs truly do feel refreshed and not as sore as they used to be.

My fiancée has had a few sessions of compression and actively asks to use it more. I’m cool with that so long as I’m not in them. I’ve even let my mom use them. At first she was skeptical, but afterward, my mom legitimately said her legs felt so much better and asked if that was possible. Yes, it is possible, mom. Did you also not read the studies?!

NormaTec managed to take a recovery method that was geared more towards professional athletes and created a personal use system for the everyday consumer. I am 100% a believer and plan on getting into my party pants (the fun name for NormaTec boots) every day.


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The Bad

There’s no denying that this is an expensive purchase. The PULSE leg recovery system costs $1495. I got it on sale for $200 off and then found an additional $50 promo code which helped to soften the blow. At first, I felt foolish, which was part of why I waited so long to buy. Once the system arrived and I had completed my first session, there was zero buyer’s remorse.

There are some cheaper options out there which I also looked at. Many people claim they work just as well. NormaTec seems to be the Rolex/Lamborghini/Louis Vuitton/(insert overpriced but nice brand) of the personal compression recovery world.

NormaTec states the battery life is two hours. I wish it was longer, but it’s not necessary. You’re not going to sit in your car for over two hours post race with the boots on. It’s more just for convenience.

My last complaint isn’t even really a complaint. Sometimes air doesn’t completely leave the boots post-session, so the next time I use them, I have to squeeze a little air out to zip the boots up. This is also me reaching at straws.


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NormaTec Pulse Conclusion

I love my NormaTec PULSE system. I run or workout 6-7 days a week depending on how rough of shape my body is in. I know how important taking a rest day is, but I struggle with the concept. It’s safe to say that these boots are saving my legs from myself.

If you have the money, go for it! You won’t regret it. However, if you’d rather not drop over $1,000 on blow-up boots, just find a friend who has NormaTec and bribe them with food and beer for a few recovery minutes.


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