Monday, August 8, 2016

Normatec vs Air Relax Review - Recovery Compression Boots

Relaxing in Air Relax (top left)
Normatec (top right)
Coupon codes for Air Relax recovery compression boots and Normatec recovery compression boots can be found at the bottom!
As an aging professional triathlete I no longer recover like I used to. As a result, I continually look for out new and better ways to expedite the recovery process. Recently I discovered Normatec recovery compression boots and I absolutely fell in love.

Not only did I discover that the Normatec recovery boots are truly effective in helping my legs recover faster, but I also found them to be incredibly relaxing. I found myself looking forward to winding down at night and sitting in the boots as they massage away at my legs and I did work on the computer.

In addition to recovery, I also discovered that they were great for jump-starting the body. I may be 35, but I have more than a lifetime of pounding on the body and it can be quite stiff and achy some mornings. Using the recovery boots first thing is a great way to warm up the body and ease aches and pains. Using them after travel, both plane and car, has also been extremely effective. Just 20 minutes in the boots and the leg fluid build up, edema, and swelling in my legs is visibly reduced and the sausage look is eliminated. To say I am now addicted to my boots would be an understatement, they simply go everywhere with me.
Boots squeeze blood from legs helping it
back to the heart, lungs, and kidneys

The rest of this review will focus on two different companies that produce boots at two different price points. Air Relax recovery compression boots cost ~$370, while the Normatec Pulse recovery boots system is $1495. Both systems are AMAZING and you can't go wrong with either system!!! Both systems have add-on attachments like arm sleeves and hip attachments.

There are many other recovery boot systems available that I won't cover. Those include: Recovery Pump, Unix, Rapid Reboot, Normatec MVP, Normatec Pulse Pro, Normatec Pro, Podium Legs and Doctor Life LX7. I have experience with all of these systems and they either miss the mark based on price, quality, features or are no longer sold.

Air Relax (~$370 with coupon)

- FDA approved Class II medical device designed to treat patients with edema / swelling of the legs. As a result they can go much higher in pressure. All the way to 230mmHg with 4 pressure levels

- Small, portable, compression unit, smaller than the older Normatec MVP system but bigger than the new Normatec Pulse.

- Newly updated from older orange boots with distinctive dark grey boots that are higher quality, don't show dirt, and have hidden air hoses that don't get in your way. System + pair of boots weighs 7lb 14oz for Size 2.

- Available in both 110V (USA) and 220 (EU Asia).

Sizing comparison
- Comes in three sizes.
  • Size 2 (5' 3" to 5'7") 
  • Size 3 (5'8" to 6'1") (introduced June 2017) 
  • Size 4 (6' 2"+) (introduced January 2017)
- Optional hips attachment and arms attachment.

- Optional travel carrying case. I did a quick review of the case with pictures and short video here.

Highly affordable from Air Relax USA Use coupon code: 

FCN289 (Valid DEC 2017) to save $20 or more.  

Air Relax pricing is based on a boot size. Larger boots are a few dollars more than smaller boots.


Normatec Pulse (~$1395 w/ $100 off coupon code)
 


- Has a battery. The battery is designed to remain plugged in and charging. When ready for use, move the Pulse system to a more convenient location and use on battery. While you can use it for traveling, be aware that the unit always stays on in the background and uses some battery. This decreases available battery life when traveling and not plugged in. Stated battery life is ~3 hours.

Normatec Pulse System
- Comes in three sizes:
  • Short for under 5' 3"
  • Regular 5'4" to 6'3"
  • Tall for people over 6' 4"  
- Pressure can go up to 100mmHg with 7 pressure levels.

- Can set timer in 5 minute increments from 5 minutes to 2 hours.

- Optional hips, arms, and carrying case.

- Priced at $1395 when you use coupon code RecoverFaster17 to save $100 at Normatec's website.

Many endurance athletes have become familiar with Normatec recovery compression boots thru Ironman expo. Based on the feedback I have received, I know that many people want boots but can't justify Normatec. Air Relax is the perfect option for these people. The feedback I have received from people who have gone Air Relax has been extremely positive. Both systems are amazing and you can't wrong with either.


Links:

Air Relax.com - $370 w/ coupon code FCN289 (Valid DEC 2017)
Air Relax on Amazon - Only Size 2 is available on Amazon ($410)
Air Relax on eBay ($410)
- Air Relax Carrying Case Quick Review

Normatec Website - $1295 (for holidays only then $1495) with coupon code RecoverFaster17
Normatec Amazon (Not available)
Normatec Units on eBay - Used and New (Various prices)


Lastly if you are a triathlete or endurance athlete, I am setting up a FREE Q&A group on Facebook. Feel free to ask any question you might have about Air Relax or Normatec Compression Recovery Boots or anything else.

128 comments:

  1. What do you attribute the significant price gap to?

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  2. I don't have visibility to the financials of either company but if you look at Normatec their branding is everywhere, from print to digital to events like Ironman to athletes. Those all cost significant monies.

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  3. Normatec often has a discount at the events where they have presence. Helped me decide on them.

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    1. James, they are both great and endorse both. It really comes down your personality and income level. For me, I prefer the Air Relax. They have a warranty, but if they do break outside the warranty I am not out nearly as much cash. That is me and my own financial situation speaking. Again both units work great, the only poor decision is not OWNING a pair of boots.

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  4. If price was not an issue, which seems to work best?

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    1. Dear Unknown:

      They both have some minor +'s and -'s. For me, I really like that the Normatec has a battery as I really like to sit outside in a park under a tree, but 99.9% of users are never going to do that. In addition, I don't think that one feature is worth 5x the cost of Air Relax. I didn't pay nearly the cost that is required for most people to buy Normatec and I had Normatec first. I wouldn't pay the full price for that feature if starting from scratch.

      What this means in short is that if I didn't have any pair of boots and I had to pay $1600 for Normatec or $350 for Air Relax then I would go with Air Relax. I think the majority of professional triathletes using Normatec, absent a *** free pair *** and using their own money would probably do the same. But *** free *** product is a powerful tool.

      I hope this response helps. If not please ask any follow up questions you might have. Happy Training,

      Cheers,
      *** TG ***

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  5. thanks. that's exactly what i was looking for.

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  6. Thanks for this write-up! Very helpful. In the interest of full disclosure, do you get a kickback when people use the Air Relax coupon code?

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    1. RoadBunner, it will very based upon time. Sometimes that will be the case where I may receive a referral fee, others times not. I have sponsors, actually sponsors, I have referred many people to and never seen a dime. Air Relax is NOT an official sponsor. I would love to offer a Normatec code as well, as I am a TRUE consumerist at heart, but unfortunately they have no interest. I have been singing the praises on boots since I first started really using them this year. I have done so publically, and I approached Air Relax about offering my readers a discount. Not the other way around. I consider the value provided in furthering my own reputation positively and increasing my readership. Hope this helps.

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    2. Thanks for responding! I've been doing some research and your reviews were the most helpful and I was just curious where you were coming from in that regard. I have no problems with kickbacks if they are disclosed. I appreciate all of your helpful information and am leaning towards trying out Air Relax.

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    3. RoadBunner, to add to the conversation Bloggers/Athletes/Celebrities and other endorsers are often too focused on the short term. They want to capitalize on their 10 minutes of fame without thinking long term. I want this site to eventually be a resource as large and vast as the late Sheldon Brown was to cycling. Unlike Sheldon, whom I respected greatly, I do want to make the info more concise, simpler, and some what more presentable. Thank you for visiting the site. I have no doubt you would love both the Air Relax and Normatec. It really comes down to what you want to pay.

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  7. I noticed Air Relax pressures up to 230mmgh but the Normatec to only 100? Does that mean the Air Relax is capable of a tighter squeeze?

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    1. Yes exactly the Air Relax are capable of a much higher squeeze. I do wish the Normatecs did a go a bit higher, but I don't think I would ever need 230 myself. YMMV.

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    2. Thank you!! Good information

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  8. Excellent review and my Air Relax arrived today. My thanks for the thorough and transparent review.

    Les Akins

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    1. Les you are more than welcome. I was just swimming at the pool a few days again and another guy reiterated how much he was liking his Air Relax. I am glad I can help people who may not want or be able to pay the full price of Normatec but are searching for a viable alternative. Also, I am curious how you got here so if you take a moment to either shoot me a message thru the "Contact" tab or just reply here I would greatly appreciate it.

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    2. hello Les Akins, how are those Air Relx working?

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  9. Hey Thomas
    Thanks for the great review! I got e AirRelax based on your article. I tried it a couple of times and so far so good!
    Seems like you have been using it for a while.. what mode would you recommend using? I used "Auto" so far which seems to cycle through most of the other modes. I have been using the 3rd pressure level.

    For timing, you mention first thing in the morning and after travel... what about after longer workouts... have you found it is better (recovery wise) to use the system soon after the end of the session, or much later in the day?

    Thanks for any insight you may have to help me (us) getting the most of it quicker!

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  10. Hi and thanks for the question. I switch up the modes kind of randomly but Auto is fine as well. As far as pressure goes, I tend to be more of 1 in the morning or before a run, and then for recovery I usually start at 1 and work towards 2. It kind of depends on how much time I have. I do kind of like that the Air Relax cycles last 15 mins, as I will start at 1, then go right to 2 for another 15 mins and then often another interval at 2. In terms of when, I use boots all the time but don't give it too much thought as specifics. Generally I use them before bed. Since a big part of my day is filed with workouts, I find myself often eating after big workouts. After eating, if I have another workout there might be a chance I sneak in a recovery boot sessions, or if I am just feeling tired and want to get some 'other' work done, then I will often sit in the boots but I don't give it a lot of thought. Morning and night is almost like clockwork, but I will use them in whenever I can. I also really like walks to help get the blood flowing. The key is really is to keep the blood flood and boots is one way to do that, walking is another.

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  11. Have you tried the waist cuff? I get super tight in my hips and butt and I want to know how well that works for that area. Thanks

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    1. Kyle, I have a NORMATEC Hips Cuff that I have but I don't use it too frequently. I find the boots most beneficial, but I will use the Hips cuff if I have some Glute/Piriformis issues going on and I want to squeeze the area. I DO NOT however have the waist cuff from Air Relax so I cannot compare. I hope to get one at some point and test out. Hope this helps. Happy New Year, -TG

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  12. Hi Thomas, Awesome review. I found this very timely as I was highly considering the Normatec based solely on the "hype" it has recently received on Good Morning America.

    I was curious, as to how the length of the boots of the Air Relax compare to the Normatec Pulse as far as quality and size? I've tried the Pulse at IM Vineman this past July and they stopped right about mid quad (I'm 5'11"). Would you say they are comparable?

    Thank you.

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    1. I am surprised to hear that the Normatec only went up to the mid-quad. Are you sure you tried on the proper length legs at Vineman? My inseam is 33.63 and I find the Normatec boots go all the way up to nearly the crotch area. Regardless, I think boots are fantastic and I am a huge fan of as I have stated in the comments and review. The real question is how much do you want to pay? My analogy is you need a new set of keys, one key is $0.99. You can also get a key that has your favorite sports team on it but it is $4.99. Both keys, open the lock.

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    2. Have you tried the taller Air Relax boots? I have a similar inseam and would like them to work the upper thigh area. Also curious how your feet feel/fit in taller boots.

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    3. I have a pair of taller boots and those are the ones I use now. They are tad long but they work for me. I am single though. If you are sharing with a spouse that is another thing to consider, although at $200 for just the boots, might be better off buying 1 unit and 2x pair of boots.

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    4. Thomas,

      Thanks for the review! My inseam is almost identical to yours. Just to be clear, are you using the Size 3 (30" - 34" inseam) Air Relax boots?

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  13. Hello,
    I was wondering if the peristaltic pulse compression the Normatec offers is a noticeable difference that the Air Recovery doesn't have. From my understanding, Normatec has this technology patented, leaving the Air Recovery more of a "squeeze and hold" type of technology. I can see both essentially working with the same benefits, but wondering if the peristaltic pulse "stimulation" essentially does add somewhat of a benefit...regardless of price.

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    1. Hi and thank you for the question. This sort of technology has been used since at least the 60s. Air Relax is approved by the FDA as a Class II medical device. As a former Medical Device sales rep (pacemakers, defibs) I can appreciate the added complexity this adds to a device like Air Relax.

      I like them both, and as I talked to Normatec about, studies are great, but 99% of the time they are used for marketing purposes. The proof is in the pudding and that is my own use and belief in these devices as a professional triathlete who treats his RECOVERY as the 4th, and hidden discipline in sport.

      Ultimately, I would rather see Normatec pour money into studies that expand the indications for use of pneumatic compression in general. There are many people that could benefit that will never be able to benefit because they cannot afford the devices. Squeeze tissue, move blood and lymph around, same principle of just walking or swimming which I highly recommend as well for recovery. I understand why companies want to build a moat around their product, but unfortunately as a long-time medical device rep, who worked with doctors on studies, I saw how tainted the process can be. Science is awesome but you would be amazed how much room there is to influence the process.

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  14. How does the Air Relax do in the noise department. Is it comparable to the Normatec MVP? Is the motor/pump noise about the same? And how about how hissy it is when the batters bled off?

    Thanks sharing your thoughts on these two units.

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    1. John I really need to get a decibel reader and do an objective test. This is something I will do.

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  15. My problems tend to be in the upper thigh/groin/hip area. How well does this work in that area? any recs on what to do?

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    1. I don't think you are going to achieve a good groin squeeze with either of these devices. Both of them have specific hip attachments add-ons which target the hips. Although I have a hip attachment I still find I use a lacrosse ball to targets areas with a little more intense pressure. In general, I find the the boots are great for recovery of the lower extremities and warming up tissue prior to the day or exercise, but if you have real problem areas I think you need much more targeted pressure and manipulation.

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  16. HI, its any other device's legs scuff compatible with the Air relax? I mean, can you buy the legs from other brand to use with the air relax? because the air relax legs are too big for me.
    thanks

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    1. The short answer is no. For the most part the devices have different plug interfaces that are each unique and proprietary.

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  18. Is the relax air torso sleeve designed for hips/ glutes as the normatec seems to be described? My impression is that the relax version is for the waist and upper torso. I'm buying the relax system for fibromyalgia pain that is worst in legs, hip, and butt.

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    1. The beauty of the Air Relax one is that it can be positioned anywhere really so you can move it to various places in the torso region. Although the Normatec one you have to step your legs thru two sides, you can still move it up and down as well to target your specific area. Both should get the job done. I hope either system helps you get some relief. Pain is no good :(

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  19. Hi there Thomas - Many thanks for going to the trouble to review these two systems. As a direct result of your comparison, I have today taken delivery of the Air Relax. Three quick questions if I may.
    (1) To help ones recovery, what setting do you use on the Air Relax please - "auto"?
    (2) When you are using the Air Relax to recover, do you have you legs elevated, maybe lying on the floor with your feet and legs on a chair perhaps?
    (3) How long do you use the Air Relax system to get a good recovery session in?
    Thank You again for all your help!
    All the best, Carl.

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  20. Carl, congrats on getting an Air Relax. I DO NOT use 'Auto'. I like to use modes "A" and "B". Usually I will start a do a cycle at pressure 1 and then move to 2 for a second and 3rd cycle. Each cycle is 15 minutes. Sometimes, I will do two cycles at 1, and then the last at 2. If I am using them pre-workout I will generally just keep it at 1 for a cycle or two. I do not elevate my legs. I usually sit in my bed with back up against the wall while I do work on the laptop.

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  21. Hi Thomas, thanks for great review. I had a question, does the Air Relax use a massage pattern? If so, what is it? I ask because I noticed that Normatec has the pattern that moves section by section up your leg. I like that for flushing toxins, etc. and was hoping Air Relax had something comparable. Thanks!

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    1. Ryan, thank you for the question. Yes Air Relax has a massage pattern, they actually have 3 different patterns you can choose from. They have a bottom to top, one section after another inflates. They have bottom to top holding and the back down from top to bottom holding. The third mode, "C", is where they inflate all the chambers at once and do a hold and then release all chambers at once. Hopefully this makes sense. Let me know either way :)

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  22. Hi Thomas, which unit do you favor for durability? I have a storefront specializing in relief and recovery and I estimate that 6 (or more) clients a day would utilize compression. Some clients would be new to compression. Simplicity, setting and forgetting for 15 minutes, is another key factor. Thanks!

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    1. Hey thanks for the question. It is really hard to say. On the one hand Normatec are ~4x the price, on the other hand Air Relax has the same warranty but the pressure of the boots goes to 230mmhg. I don't think anyone in the athletic space should be using them at that, but if they are built to withstand it than that is impressive and they would have to be engineered beyond 230mmhg to handle cycling of 230mmhg over and over again.

      I haven't had any issues with my Air Relax. I had an issue with my Normatec that Normatec promptly fixed. But then again I travel with my Normatec because it is smaller and it could get knocked around with normal air travel even though I keep it in my carry-on.

      If your storefront is targeted towards athletes you might want to piggy back on all of Normatec's athletes. They probably have heard/seen Normatec. If your storefront is targeted more towards general wellness then I think either option is great.

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  23. Hi Thomas,

    Just wanted to say thanks, I read your reviews and decided to purchase the Air Relax....The price difference is just too significant to justify the Normatec purchase 99% of the time I will be using these at home so size is not the major consideration....Will try and post an update in a 6 weeks time as I have major stiffness in the legs / calves / ankles / feet if I don't stay on top of recovery it impacts ability to train...So will be interesting to see how they go.....Anthony Booth.

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    1. Anthony, I am glad I could help. Keep me posted on the progress. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment :)

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  24. My son is a high school athlete competing for a scholarship and a state championship in track. He trains hard for his sprints, as well as speed and agility training to improve his 40 time at college football camps. Last year his legs were tired when doing camps or meets on consecutive days and affected his times. I am thinking these boots would help during his training, as well helping him when college prospect camps are on consecutive days. The state finals and at least 6 camps are back to back days. Believe it or not these times could affect interest/scholarship offers. Would these products help this specific example ? Also would Air Relax work as well as normatec for this situation, as the price difference is huge. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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    1. Dennis - to be honest, I wish I knew more about recovery when I was younger. I did one season of track and field / CC and our coach was jacked and a lifetime exerciser. He was probably in his 60s. Maybe I was too young, but I don't remember him telling us about recovery. To the contrary, we were doing a lot of static stretching which is a no-no. I think these devices could be a huge boon to younger high-school kids in the future. The benefits aren't necessarily by cranking them up but provide an nice active flush of the legs. The kids should love it to because it should go hand-in-hands with their phones slash facebook/twitter/snapchat/instagram. They are both great and I generally tell people to get what they can afford. Both systems are very nice and the only bad decision is no boots. I know many parents won't be able to afford Normatec and Air Relax is a great alternative. I hope this helps :)

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  25. Thank you. This helps a lot. I was leaning towards getting boots. I was just concerned that the Air Relax weren't as effective. You have helped me with both. Thanks.

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    1. Happy to help. Also, although I haven't gotten any feedback on the process because I don't really know anyone that has returned a unit, but they do have a 30 day policy. There appear to be some restrictions on it, not sure how strict they take it.

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  26. Hi Thomas, and thanks for your comprehensive review. It certainly helped me settle on the air relax - both units are significantly more expensive here in Australia, but Air Relax does have a distributor in country, ultimately the deciding factor for me - aus plug vs us plug. Just a question, did you ever get around to the noise review? Thanks once again, Ben.

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    1. Thanks for the question. I do plan to do it but I haven't got to the noise part yet.

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  27. Thomas, just wanted to say thanks for the write-up. I don't know you, I'm not with either company, but I trust your opinion as a seasoned triathlete. I'm not in your sport, I'm a powerlifter, but I've suffered from some knee issues due to the demand of the sport and I've used normatec in the past at a recovery lab. I decided to purchase my own, and was going normatec until you provided the information and comparison I was looking for. I read your review here and on amazon and appreciate it. Thanks again.

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    1. Glad I could help. Keep the knee healing going!!

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  28. Thomas have you tried the Pulse Pro? I wonder if there is a significant difference between that and the regular Pulse.

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    1. I have a Pulse Pro in my possession as well. I actually prefer the regular Normatec (the non-pro Pulse) unit myself for the way I used it.

      The Pulse Pro has a touch sensitive LCD where as the regular uses buttons to control time and pressure which I find to be a lot easier to use personally and why I prefer the unit over the Pulse Pro. The Pulse Pro has more options and bells and whistles and is better suited for large scale operations where many people will be using it.

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    2. Thanks Thomas for your quick reply. Is there really a huge difference between both of them in terms of the pressure applied or you can have one section of the leg have more pressure than the others? Only reason why I am asking is if there are more options on the Pro that are helpful I would consider getting it.

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    3. There are definitely more options with the pro. It is really meant IMO for rehab / recovery studios that are popping up. You can set it to target just 1 specific pocket for instance. Like if you have a calf niggle / cramp / tightness and just want to work that area. The pro is your version then!!!

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  29. Great write up Thomas, thanks!

    I'm pretty put off on Normatec's lack of warranty on a premium product (at least the price point indicates as much). I see it as telling when a company won't stand behind the manufacturing, especially the attachments - which likely endure the most stress.

    The compelling part to Normatec is, again, the many attachments covering nearly all parts of the body. In addition to running and skate skiing I lift weights three days a week. I'm also a desk-jockey and type A LOT. I love the idea of using Normatec's system on my arms (and hips/shoulders) but not going to drop $2700 for a year warranty.

    That's. Just. Dumb.

    So my question is will the Air Relax work on forearms? Any other body parts?

    Thanks!
    -T

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    1. Air Relax has hip attachments and arm attachments. While I have the Normatec Hip attachment I don't have the arms. While I have the Air Relax arms, I don't have the hips. To this day I haven't used the arms, and I used the Normatec hips for a bit but I just prefer the legs. I use a very specific ball to work into the hips anyway which does a better job of braking up the tissue. I feel like I should use the arms for review, but as people can probably tell I just love the boots. Sitting in the right now. 1 hard swim this morning, 6 mile run, 4 mile commute via bike, 2:35 ride, boots, and the back on for more riding. Then boots probably tonight. I have spoken to Normatec about the warranty. I think for a premium product it is an important selling feature to increase the warranty. I also think it should be 2 years if not even 3.

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    2. I contacted Air Relax and they said they are designing shorts that will compress. I think this will be more useful for the hips/glutes whenever it comes out. They told me sometime in the next 3 months. My hips tend to get trigger points from time to time so I am interested in it.

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    3. Thanks for the heads up. I will have to keep my eyes out for them and try them myself.

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    4. No problem, it just sounded like it would work much better than their other attachment. Thanks for all your help. Your page here and your review on Amazon really helped me decide on the Air Relax. I just got it on Monday and I don't think my legs have felt this great in 20 years. Running is kind of a hobby of mine, I'm not a pro like you. My best Marathon at this time is a 2:38:24. I've got the HFM Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc, WI on June 11th to give it another go. I live in Appleton, WI.

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    5. Hey great to hear!!! And actually my training partner and I may make our base camp in Appleton this summer. Would always love a training partner for longer runs. Planning to be up there middle of June to end of July.

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    6. That would be fine with me! I friended you on Facebook if you are ever looking for anyone to run with you can let me know.

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  30. Excellent timing and thank you Thomas, as I've been researching both products!

    Quick question as I'm 6'2" and my wife is 5'3". I'd REALLY like to not have to buy two sets of Leg Cuffs but I'm sitting right on the inseam cutoff.

    Thoughts on if I can get by 30" inseam vs 38" so my wife can use them as well?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply. There are a quite a few people in this position actually. While you could easily use the short, your wife would probably struggle to fit into the large ones. I would suggest buying two pairs of boots. Frankly that isn't a bad thing. These boots will get very sweaty and your wife may prefer her own pair. A separate pair of boots for the small could be purchased for $190 with the 5% discount.

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  31. Thanks Thomas. I had been considering Normatec for a while (likely used due to the price) but decided to jump on the Air Relax based on your recommendations. I'm anxious to get them and put them to use. Good luck in your training and racing.

    Jason

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    1. Congrats!!! Shoot me a message in couple of months and let me know how they are working out.

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  32. Thanks for the honest review, and for the discount code! Just ordered the Air Relax. Looking forward to using them in the last couple months of Ironman training this year, and in whatever adventures I get into next year.

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    1. Glad I could help. Please shoot me a message in a couple of months and let me know how they are working out :)

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  34. Do you have any pictures of the Air Relax Carrying case? Do you have approx size and weight?

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    1. Victoria, Air Relax does not have a specific carrying case yet for the Air Relax. I have followed up with them again to see if any progress has been made but I don't think it will be anytime soon.

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    2. It is supposed to be coming out some time in late August.

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  35. Hi Thomas
    I'm cycling ( not a professional)
    How important is the pressure?
    I'm looking for normatec pro pulse just for the boots x air relax.
    Both boots give enough pressure?
    I live in Brazil by the way

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    1. Both units have adequate pressure. Frankly I don't use my Air Relax higher than level 2. When you think about it, a blood pressure cuff is also in mmHG so think about pumping the blood pressure cuff up to 160mmHG, it probably doesn't feel that great does it. I would skip the Normatec Pulse Pro and just opt for the regular Pulse or Air Relax.

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  36. I was looking at both Normatec and Air Relax and after reading positive reviews about both, I decided to save $1000 and purchase the Air Relax. As a 49 year old triathlete (all distances) and a family of runners and cyclists, I knew the recovery boots would get lots of use from my entire family. I held off on writing a review until we had a few weeks of use under and every member of my family (including 16 and 18 year old high school runners) tried all of the settings. Well, I can honestly say that we all LOVE the Air Relax recover boots. We use mode "A" and "B" most of the time and pressure level 2 (sometimes level 3). I can't see any reason why we would ever use level 4 but I guess someone with very skinny legs might find level 4 (perhaps it would equate to a level 3 for an average person). TO BE CLEAR, I have friends that purchased Normatec recovery boots and I personally have tried Normatec boots at a friends house. I DO NOT notice ANY difference in these products and I can't understand why anyone would not but Air Relax rather to save $1000 bucks.

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    1. Dave, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad you are enjoying recovery compression boots and they are getting GOOD use!!

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  37. Thanks for the review. I really would love to go with Air Relax, but at a short-legged 4'10", Normatec and Rapid Reboot seem to be the only ones who offer a short enough boot.

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    1. AirRelax has a short boot version, trust me they already run small too.

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    2. I am actually using the largest size right now - size 4. They are a little longer than the normal Normatechs but work better for me.

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  38. Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for the great write up, I'm 5'7 and read that the boots run small, should I get a size 3 instead of a size 2?

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  39. Thanks for the great write up. I'm sitting in my new Air Relax legs as I write this. I was able to test the Normatec at the Santa Rosa IM this past weekend and the AR work just as well as the more expensive Normatec

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    1. Patrick, thanks for the feedback. Glad you are enjoying the boots and are recovering well!!!

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  40. Hi. Did you have a chance to test out Rapid Reboot?

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    1. I have yes. They are basically a rebranded Dr. Life LX7 unit (~$500) with some improvements to the boots. They are far too expensive. If you can afford the Rapid Reboot you are better off going with Normatec IMHO.

      Should you ever have a need to resell the boots I think it would be much easier to resell the Normatecs and for a better price. Anyone looking to buy a discounted pair of boots, thinking they should buy used to save a few dollars, are better served by buying a pair of Air Relax that come with a warranty. Use your AMEX to double the warranty period. This hurts the resale value of the Rapid Reboot anymore. While those using boots, will likely wear them to the ground, it is always something to consider.

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    2. This helped a lot. Thank you so much.

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  41. Thomas G. Just out of curiosity why do say they are a rebranded LX7? I've seen those online and they don't look anything like the Rapid Reboot system, boots are totally different and the pump is quit different too (modes, pressure, etc). I recently tried RR at Boulder and thought they had some good changes. Also did you try RR? I thought you had just talked with them, according to your thread on slowtwitch you stated you didn't actually try them just talked with the owners or something? Once again just curious on this particular response. Good article between Air relax and Normatec. - Eric

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    1. How closely did you look at the LX7??? Was it just the initial color, shape, etc? They both have A and B modes. LX7 goes to 250 (targeted as medical device), Rapid Reboot (targeted at athletes) but both use essentially the same graphic to do it, one uses a button, the other uses a dial. The visual application of pressure is almost exact as well with the only real difference being the wording of chambers for zones. And both have (10, 20, 30) time buttons.

      If this was Apple vs Samsung I would think there would be substantial infringement which leads me to believe that it is a rebrand. There is nothing wrong with rebranding. It happens all the time but when the price between the rebrand and the original (usually designed for another market), in this case OUS Voltages etc was the big hiccup, is substantial then I worry.

      I just don't see a legitimate reason why anyone would choose RR. Do they work, yes, however for the price I am more inclined to recommend Air Relax. The people who are very brand aware are going to end up with Normatec anyway as that is what the ***stars*** use.

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  42. Hello All! This is the best random review I have ever stumbled on! I am 50 yr female long-time triathlete training for the Ironman World Championships. My legs and back take much longer to recover and ache way more than in the heydays of my 40's - hence I was just about to buy a set of the Normatech boot and hip attachment and had actually never even heard of Air Relax until I found this post. Thomas, thank you for the time and energy you have taken to answer so many questions. To anyone who has bought the Air Relax, does it matter if you buy it thru the company directly or thru Amazon? It sounds like a no brainer to buy the Air Relax based on the huge price difference but if anyone has other information that would help my decision, that would be great!

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    1. BadgerSue, thanks for the question. Both places are perfectly good to buy from. I am sure Air Relax prefers u buy them from their site as it is very expensive to sell on Amazon. The seller Orange Tree Trade is the same seller (US Distributor) as Air-Relax.com. It is also more expensive for you to buy on Amazon and you can only get one size on Amazon. If you need their other sizes you have to purchase on Air Relax

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  43. Great review man! I just ordered my Air Relax. I'm a marathoner and these will be crucial to my recovery as my long runs get longer and longer. I'll be bringing mine to Chicago for after the marathon!

    Thanks again

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    1. Sweet, have a great race. Chicago was my last marathon back in I think 07 or 08, shortly after Ironman Wisconsin. It was one of my worst marathons ever, I wasn't recovered from Wisconsin clearly!!! I needed the boots. Enjoy your boots :)

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  44. Very informative writeout! Kudos! We are a retailer of Air Relax in Malaysia. Quick question, I have users mostly into Ultra running 250-500km. Any suggestion (mode to use) to flush off the acid lactate during the check-point stops? Thanks.

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    1. I don't have a lot of experience in Ultras but would be interested in hearing what others find out. In my experience when running in Ironman it is ok to stop and walk for a few seconds but you don't want to do make the stop too long as the body shuts down, best to keep moving. I would think they would want to use them at the end of the race but during it may be too difficult. Let me know what you find out from runners.

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  45. Hi. With the air relax system do you know which mode is the best to use for after run recovery?

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    1. Which mode is best, that is tough to say, to my knowledge they haven't done a study to help give insight into which is best. But my preference these days is "B" which inflates the chambers from the bottom up, but maintains the pressure in the lowers chambers as it works its way to the top.

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  46. Thank you for the review. I have been interested in compression boots for some time, but could not justify the cost of the NormaTach. I am going to give the air relax system a try. I am 5'10", but have long legs. Should I go with a size 3 or 4?

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  47. I think you should go with 3. You could probably be ok with 4 too. My inseam is 33.63 and I just barely make 4 work.

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  48. curious how long you use your boots after a workout? are you using them prior to workouts as well to 'warmup'?

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    1. I will use them for as little as 15 mins to as long as 2 hours post workout. I will use them pre-workout for about the same. Bottom line is, once I am in them I usually sit in them for as long as I have.

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  49. do you have a coupon code that works for air relax

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    1. The code is working again as of now, not sure what happened to it last night.

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  50. This code was working yesterday and was set to expire at the end of October. I will have a new code to you by tomorrow.

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  51. Hey Thomas, appreciate the great review and your honest opinion. I am a runner and live in Canada and very interested in getting the boots. Was first interested in the Normatec before reading your review, but would most likely go with the AR's. Just have to decide what is the best method to purchase them. Thanks again!!!

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    1. Alex thank you for the kind words. If you want to get them to Canada I suggest going directly thru Air-Relax website - link is at the bottom of this post. You can get them shipped to you direct that way.

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  52. Hey Thomas,

    I was all set to purchase the Air-Relax, but this past weekend came across Rapid Reboot. Do you have any information about the latter?

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    1. There isn't any reason to consider Rapid Reboot IMHO. They have a similar business model as Air Relax, importing units instead from China whereas Air Relax is made in South Korea. The fit and function is very similar but while there is very little markup on Air Relax the Rapid Reboot boots are marked up a lot. They could sell for a similar price point, around $400, but instead are marked up to a $1,000. If you are in the market for boots that are $1,000 then you are much better off going with Normatec. For one the history is there, but two if you do decide to resell them down the line you will have a healthy supply of buyers looking for units. The secondary market for Rapid Reboot is non-existent.

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  53. Thanks for the coupon code! I’m going to treat myself to these after I finish my marathon today. Your review helped.

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    1. Stewart you are more than welcome. Happy recovery.

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  54. Thomas love the review. I'm very interested in compression for my legs. I am trying to find out what the difference is in the recovery boots as compared to a hot tub? Is there or is it different or is it noncomparable?

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    1. the hot tub may do some of the job of loosening up the muscles that is similar to compression boots. Some movement of blood is also do to occur as blood is brought to the surface of the skin, but the compression boots are designed to move a lot more fluid and blood in the body and do it in a manner that is much more effective and quicker. It also moves in a systematic way from bottom to top. I like hot baths too, especially with some Epsom Salt.

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  55. Hi Thomas
    Thank you for your great review. It would be awesome if you could tell us the total weight of the packaged product for the pump + 1 x pair of Air Relax boots + packaging. It would be a great help for international shipping as i couldn't find it on their website.

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    1. Hey there. Thanks for the question. For size 3 boots you are looking at about 14lb
      Shipping box dimensions: 15x13x13 (inches)

      Hope that helps :)

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  56. Thanks Thomas... That is REALLY helpful. I used your discount code for my last order so that was a nice little bonus.

    Quick question (again!) Do you know what power point plug the 220V (Eu and SE Asian)unit comes with as the "off the shelf" standard issue?

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    1. It is the following: http://tinypic.com/r/n4jfk4/9

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  57. Thanks for the response Thomas. That is a standard Euro plug, widely used in most (but not all) European countries as well as some Asian countries. I wonder if they offer the option to purchase a different plug type ie UK, Australian, Swiss etc.

    Thanks for your feedback. I think the extra information posted will be very helpful to some readers :)

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  58. TG, great write up. Thank you. I will be purchasing an Air Relax unit in the near future.

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  59. Thomas, thanks so much for your thorough analysis. I hope you can help me out with this: my mom (age 80) and I (age 41) both suffer from venous insufficiency. I am an avid recreational road cyclist, often 600-800 km per month.

    My mom is recovering from a venous ulcer and I want to get her compression boots. Her inseam is 34". Since we live in the same building, I'm thinking of using them too. My inseam is 36". What do you recommend in terms of product - Normatec vs. Air Relax and what size should we get? Should we share boots or get a set for each of us (only financially possible with the Air Relax)? Thanks so so much!

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  60. You are definitely a size 4 in Air Relax, your mom must be tall too, she could make size 4 work but she would probably be better off in size 3. Given financial concern you are better off with Air Relax and both having a set. Hope this helps - you will love them!!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Normatec makes a really great product and you won't be disappointed one bit. My suggestion is to buy the unit that won't leave you with buyer's remorse - only you can answer that.

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    3. I just bought the Air Relax - thanks again so much for your help!

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  61. Hi Thomas
    I have poor circulation in my legs. Also have cardiomyopathy. Does either product have an advantage regarding circulation?
    Thanks for tsking the time to put his review together
    Dan

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    1. Dan, fwiw previously I was a pacemaker/defib rep. Air Relax is approved by the FDA as a Class II Medical Device for various conditions, Normatec has a different medical grade device under their Normatec hospital business. This is more of a consumer grade device from Normatec with targeted audience being athletes. Regardless, both of these units are designed to promote circulation. Can one do it better, technically the Air Relax can go higher in pressure. Personally I never go higher than 2-3 (max is 4) on Air Relax. I will go to 10 on Normatec (max is 10). 4 on Air Relax is a ton of pressure.

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