Compex vs Normatech (Compression Recovery Boots)

Hi guys,

Has anyone have recommendations on the best recovery tool out there. I was thinking either the Compex or Normatec boots. Have any of you compared these two? Any other alternative?

Any feedback is appreciated.


There was a mention in passing on one of the recent ‘Fast Talk’ podcasts (episode 52) that a meta-study found no benefit from EMS ( Electronic Muscle Stimulation) used for recovery. This was not said by the Normatec guys, but one of their other guests. I haven’t not tried to find that study, but would be interested hearing more details, as there was no discussion about this at all.


I’ve got a set of the Air Relax, same idea as the Normatecs and I’m a huge fan of them too. I know there’s no science proven behind it, but anecdotally, the legs feel fresher after an hour in them and bounce back quicker.


I have just order a pair of Normatec boots and should have them by Monday 24th December 18. (My Christmas present to myself). I am obviously a little apprehensive, because there are positive and negative reviews out there. I suppose, the one positive, is that there is more positive reviews than negative reviews. Decided against the hip attachment for now, because could not find any meaningful feedback from anyone, and you could not use in conjunction with the boots. Will wait for more reviews on the hip attachment before deciding.

Busy training for Ironman PE in South Africa on 7th April 19, and with my increased double training sessions per day, my legs feel smashed most of the time. Hoping the boots make a difference. Will keep you updated

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This was discussed on the TR Podcast. There is no unbiased evidence/study that proves these types of “boot” recovery devices have any benefit or aid in recovery. Those using them that find it helps in recovery are either forced to recover more (because wearing them requires you to be immobile) or there is a placebo affect.

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@swin2000 I strongly recommend you take a look at Air Relax. I just purchased one on Black Friday for under $400. Kills it on price. Not sure I agree with @MI-XC that they don’t serve a purpose (I didn’t listen to the podcast), but a $400 ‘placebo’ is much smarter than $1200. I have plenty of marathon, ultrarunner, triathlete, etc. friends who love their Air Relax, hence the purchase.

For me, adding that to my already regular routine is invaluable, especially as I juggle three sports.

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I use COMPEX as a post workout recovery aid. It works. Sore legs feel much better when e.g. walking down the stairs after a COMPEX recovery session.
No idea if there is any effect on training, maybe on conjunction with a workout as a sort of prolongation or preload…


Thanks! Good to know that there is a budget option! Will definitely take a look at those!

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I don’t think there is an impressive amount of scientific data out there that demonstrates that pneumatic compression is that effective, enough to spend $500-$2000 on a product. Based on scan of the available studies and my own reading, I see sleep continuously cited as the most effective recovery method (given this is when human growth hormone is produced during deep sleep), a well as post-workout carb/protein loading (which accelerates tissue repair via amino acids and replaces lost glycogen in muscles). Points in case, Joe Friel in “Fast After 50” talks about recovery methods as well and confirms this (based on a survey of the research), that the only tried and true approach still appears to be sleep. I just finished listening to a podcast interview with Katrin Davidsdottir, who has won the world cross-fit championships twice in a row, and mentions sleep over and over again in the context of recovery, fanatically so. We are talking 9 hours a day, even more during competition [she also uses WhOOP to help manage her sleep).

Massage shows promising results, higher than compression garments, cryogenics, immersion, etc. Another study shows that pneumatic compression is more effective than prolonged compression sleeve garments usage. Moreover, I’d be very skeptical and beware results cited by the actual manufacturers of recovery devices (biased), or individuals (anecdotal and statistically insignificant, not to mention subject to placebo effect).

Just a few scientific studies cited below:

An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis - PMC

Results: Active recovery, massage, compression garments, immersion, contrast water therapy, and cryotherapy induced a small to large decrease (−2.26 < g < −0.40) in the magnitude of DOMS, while there was no change for the other methods. Massage was found to be the most powerful technique for recovering from DOMS and fatigue. In terms of muscle damage and inflammatory markers, we observed an overall moderate decrease in creatine kinase [SMD (95% CI) = −0.37 (−0.58 to −0.16), I2 = 40.15%] and overall small decreases in interleukin-6 [SMD (95% CI) = −0.36 (−0.60 to −0.12), I2 = 0%] and C-reactive protein [SMD (95% CI) = −0.38 (−0.59 to−0.14), I2 = 39%]. The most powerful techniques for reducing inflammation were massage and cold exposure.

Conclusion : Massage seems to be the most effective method for reducing DOMS and perceived fatigue. Perceived fatigue can be effectively managed using compression techniques, such as compression garments, massage, or water immersion.

"Acute Effects of Peristaltic Pulse Dynamic Compression on Recovery: Ki" by Timothy McInnis

The minimal effects of NormaTec on recovery from a weightlifting training session demonstrated in this study suggest that NormaTec recovery system does not provide substantial benefits following clean pulls from the floor. However, it is possible that NormaTec may be more effective following a greater level of eccentric damage or a test of strength endurance.

No significant differences in PkP, AP, and FI were observed. However, BLa was significantly lower at 25 and 35 minutes of recovery (8.91 ± 3.12 vs. 10.66 ± 3.44 mmol/L [P=0.021] and 6.44 ± 2.14 vs. 7.89 ± 2.37 mmol/L [P=0.006] for EPC vs. sham, respectively). Application of EPC during recovery may be a viable alternative when “inactive” recovery is desirable.

"The effect of intermittent pneumatic compression on the management of " by Ashley Kay Lindahl

Intermittent pneumatic compression was not effective at preventing pain associated with DOMS when applied immediately after exercise for 30 minutes.

The effect of intermittent sequential pneumatic compression on recovery between exercise bouts in well-trained triathletes. - ProQuest

There were no significant differences between trials for blood lactate concentrations or TQR. The current study reports that ISPC (intermittent sequential pneumatic compression) was not effective in improving recovery between a cycling and running bout in well-trained triathletes.


My feedback on Normatec boots that I received on the 24th December 18. I have being using for a week now, and I feel a big difference in how my legs feel afterwards. I am on the mid volume, TrainerRoad Ironman plan. Before I started using, I found doing the harder intervals took my legs a lot longer to get up to speed before I felt like they could manage the entire session. Yes, this could be subjective and a placebo effect for spending all the cashJ. I will keep you all informed on my Normatec journey as the months go on.

The other changes I made to assist with recovery in the last few months, was making sure I tried to get 8 hours sleep, alcohol free beer and mainly focused on more rest.

I must admit, that I love the feeling of being in the Normatec boots, and any chance I get, I’m slipping them on. I do agree that you need to focus on sleep and healthy lifestyle before any other recovery aids will make a difference.

Reason for me buying Normatec and not any other brand. They are the most recognized brand in the market currently, and have awesome backup support in Africa. I was able to contact and Normatec agent in Johannesburg who could provide me with all information on the product, and what sportsman in Africa we using the product. For all of you, who knows the game rugby, will understand that if the majority of the professional players are buying the product themselves, then there must be some truth to compression recovery. Rugby is one of the hardest sports physically on an athlete’s body. Almost the same concept as American football, but with no padding, helmet and no timeouts. That’s just to name one sport, but another question I asked myself, why would the professional players of any sport use the product, when they have a team of backup medical and physios on call. They could receive a physio session or sports massage daily.

Unless compression is one of the biggest sports con devices on the market, there must be some truth to get professional players to purchase themselves.


If you think it works then it actually does, science has proven that. Also, look at all the changes you’ve made by just buying the boots…

Those things alone even if you were slipping on silk pajamas instead of Normatec Boots would help recovery :rofl:. That being said it’s certainly not hurting recovery, so enjoy!


This send to imply the compression can help with soreness aspect after an ultra marathon
Though seems to be a huge lack of studies.

This study shows a decrease in soreness but kind of implies that it would decrease the ability to improve after working out in the same way taking nsaids have that impact (decrease in molecular signaling) Does external pneumatic compression treatment between bouts of overreaching resistance training sessions exert differential effects on molecular signaling and performance-related variables compared to passive recovery? An exploratory study - PMC

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Anyone listening to the podcast now it seems like trainerroad really like boots: (~58 mins in)

Has someone here had the chance to try multiple brands of these?
Let’s assume the boots work and I’m willing to buy a pair, I couldn’t really find why Normatec are ~50% more expensive than AirRelax or Compex?

@adriandlh almost a year later what are your thoughts on the normatec’s?


If anyone wants to try them the Compex are only $300 today at Best Buy. Very tempting.

[Best Buy]([](https://Best Buy))


I bought a pair of the Compex since the price was great, even though I already have Normatecs. I got them mostly for professional reasons and the integrated pump / motor design was intriguing.

tested them last night, but they really don’t compare to Normatecs. The Compex cuffs really only feel like they are compressing the sides and backs of your legs, not the whole thing. It almost felt like my legs were on top of the bladders, not surrounded by them. Some of that may be due to the exposed knee design…

That said, they will be nice to have at work for days after a hard AM ride…the exposed knee design means I can bend my knees enough to hide them under my desk and still access my keyboard, etc.

A screaming deal at the current price, but Normatecs are vastly superior IMO.

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What’s up TR family!

I’ve been hitting it hard lately and have been eyeballing some good recovery boots to complement my almost daily epsom salt soaks for my legs. I am currently riding 6 days/week with about 690-710 weekly TSS with a current FTP of 325w.

Has anyone used them with good results? I’ve heard mention of them on a couple podcasts so I’m interested to hear what the community has to say about them and how effective they really are at helping soothe tired and sore legs.

I feel substantially better when I can get a good epsom salt bath soak after a hard ride and I’m hoping these boots might complement those recovery efforts.

Any thoughts, opinions, and personal anecdotes are appreciated!

Here is an existing thread more “equipment” focused but has some worthwhile info:

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Good read, ty! I’m not sure why that thread didn’t come up when I searched initially.

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