Therabody’s RecoveryAir Boots Are the Perfect Way to End Leg Day

by nyljaouadi1
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I’m sitting on my couch right now, hours after yet another fierce leg day workout, and my legs feel like lead. The soreness is real after five sets of heavy trap bar deadlifts and four sets per side of transverse plane front rack squats, so no—I don’t want to move right now.

This doesn’t mean I’m not recovering; in fact, right now, I’m pushing towards some of the most valuable recovery I’ve ever had on a leg day. Right now, I’m in a pair of massive, oversized boots that run all the way from my toes to my hips. These boots are methodically inflating and deflating with air—a process that’ll repeat many times over the next 40 minutes. It feels like a gentle massage of air fingers on every lower-body muscle I have—and this sensation feels terrific on my very sore hamstrings.

None of this is a new sensation, because compression boots have been around for several years . And yet these particular boots, the Therabody RecoveryAir boots, have still managed to find a unique niche.

Why? Because thanks to the Therabody RecoveryAir boots, this gentle air massage has never been more affordable. Air compression boots are increasingly popular for postworkout recovery (and NBA players increasingly revere them), but the tech that runs all this has long been somewhat pricey: Typically, you’ll spend upwards of $1000 for a solid pair of compression boots.

That’s not an issue with the Therabody RecoveryAir boots, which are all about affordability and accessibility. The mainstream RecoveryAir system will run you just $699, takes about 30 seconds to set up out of the box—and offers up plenty of comfort for legs that are sore from lifting, running a mile, or just a long day at work.

Courtesy of brand

Therabody RecoveryAir System

RecoveryAir is all about simple.

In a world full of overly complex tech, Therabody hones in on simplicity with RecoveryAir. The boots plug into a surprisingly small hexagonal control unit, and the display is uncluttered. You simply choose a time for your compression therapy and press a “Start/Stop” button to begin the process.

A green battery icon sits above all of that, letting you know how much juice is in the device. On the side of the device, a tiny dial lets you control the pressure (in millimeters of Mercury, a standard measure of air pressure) that the RecoveryAir aims to fill.

The entire setup screams no frills. This isn’t a device that’s trying to push you to micromanage your recovery—and that’s just fine. Yes, after some workouts, I want a very nuanced program, and I want to control everything. But the baseline RecoveryAir is also built for people who aren’t athletes. Had a rough day at work? Did you just take on a longer run than you ever have? In these situations, you may just want to skip the details and fast-forward to the relaxing recovery—and that’s precisely where RecoveryAir comes in.

Therabody also makes a higher-end unit, the RecoveryAir Pro, which retails for $1,299 and delivers a larger digital readout and more detailed customization features. This unit brings the depth that some users will want, allowing you to more easily design your own programs and delivering a slightly more premium feel via its larger control unit and more visually aesthetic display.

But if you want basic recovery you don’t need the Pro, mostly because the mainstream RecoveryAir unit works so effectively. The basic RecoveryAir unit is slightly less powerful than the Pro when it comes to compressing my legs, yet I still enjoy a solid pump and massage from the standard RecoveryAir, a testament to how well Therabody has built both units.

Courtesy of retailer

Therabody RecoveryAir PRO System

Here’s how air compression boots work.

All levels of the RecoveryAir work off the same key recovery principles, alternately limiting and then allowing blood flow. As each chamber in the boots fills with air and compresses more tightly, it prevents a large amount of blood from circulating through that part of your body. So when the boots tighten around your feet first and then your calves, your blood flow to those areas is limited. As this compression continues around your entire leg, you’re left with even more limited blood flow.

But just a moment after all that, RecoveryAir methodically deflates, permitting blood to travel first into your thighs, then down through your lower legs, then into your feet. This onrush of blood theoretically brings with it nutrients that can help your legs recover efficiently. And of course, it feels great.

There’s limited definitive science that proves that compression boots do actively speed up your lower-body recovery. Despite that, RecoveryAir boots (and other compression boots) do have value. I’m feeling this right now, too, as my legs are propped up on my couch, my hands working my Xbox controller during a game of “Back 4 Blood.”

Even if the RecoveryAirs aren’t stimulating blood flow, they deliver their inflation and deflation with little noise, and with a gentle feeling. Each sequence tightens around my legs just enough for me to feel the air pressure, then loosens.

The end result is definitely relaxing—and that’s allowing my nervous system to downregulate, and this downregulation has definite recovery value.

RecoveryAir thinks about the little things.

In part because the compression boots category isn’t new, Therabody pours itself into the little details of both the high-end and baseline models. The result is a series of tiny conveniences that enhance the user experience.

That starts with an ultra-hygienic, easy-to-clean construction. Recovery boots traditionally have several “compartments” that inflate one at a time, and these are separated by some light stitching. Moisture and sweat can collect in the areas between these compartments, though, so RecoveryAir designs around that, “hiding” its chamber overlaps. This makes for easy cleaning, an underrated plus in this era.

Another smart design decision: The construction of the cables that link boots to the control unit. RecoveryAir’s cables are thin and extra-pliable, making them easy to fold and bend. That means you can easily coil them up, and you can also move the control unit anywhere you want in a heartbeat.

Coupled with the tiny control unit, the extra-thin cables have one more benefit too: Therabody’s basic RecoveryAir unit may be the most travel-friendly recovery boots on the market. That’s worth noting for anyone looking to take a road trip and keep up with a frantic and challenging training schedule.

Which unit do you need?

The biggest question with RecoveryAir, then, winds up being this: Which unit is best for you? I tested both the RecoveryAir and RecoveryAir Pro, and overall, the Pro delivers, well, a pro edge. Because I want to micromanage my recovery, I appreciate how the Pro lets me customize the air pressure my legs endure.

For most people, though, the standard RecoveryAir unit will be the best value. It’s the perfect pair of efficient compression boots to quickly slip into, power up, and relax in.

It’s a low-maintenance pair of recovery boots. And if you’ve had a long day at work, that’s a very good thing.

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