I Tried the Normatec Elite Compression Boots, and My Legs Have Never Felt Better

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A photo of a woman wearing Normatec Elite Compression Boots.
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I first encountered Normatec compression boots more than a decade ago when I was running the LA Marathon. Back then, unless you were running more than 26 miles or a celebrity athlete like LeBron James, you weren’t likely to encounter these full-leg compression boots. Now, in 2024, thanks to social media giving recovery and self-care the attention they deserve, compression boots have made their way into the homes of, yes, celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Lady Gaga, but also of regular people like myself. When I had the opportunity to test out the newest and most advanced iteration, the Normatec Elite ($999), I quickly raised my hand to see if they are the recovery tool that is worth the hype (and the nearly $1,000 price tag).

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So how does the Normatec Elite work? It uses compression massage to temporarily increase circulation in your legs and can reduce muscle pains and aches. In the athletic space, they can be used for warm-up and recovery to help performance. The original Normatec device was designed by Laura F. Jacobs, MD, PhD, who created it to help patients after breast-cancer surgery with lymphedema, which is swelling that occurs when something affects the lymphatic system.

The company evolved as her son, Gilead Jacobs, founder of Normatec Recovery and chief innovation officer of Hyperice, saw the potential for helping athletes after injury and surgery. It became a tool used by the University of Florida in 2006 for ankle sprains. As Jacobs explains to PS, rather than solely using them for injury recovery, athletes soon started using Normatec for “two-a-day practices for fresh legs faster.” Normatec’s patented air-compression massage, which uses a rhythmic inflation-and-deflation pattern, mimicks natural muscle pumps, boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage, and increases blood flow. As Jacobs describes, Normatec has become “the most heavily utilized recovery tool in the world by the world’s best athletes.”

While I’m more of an everyday warrior with an active lifestyle, my legs never felt better during my trial of the Normatec Elite. Keep scrolling to ready my full review.

How to Use the Normatec Elite

When you open the box, it includes the two boots, a tote bag to store them, and the charger. The set-up was very easy; all you have to do is plug them into the wall. The boots fold compactly to charge, so you don’t need a lot of space, and the charge lasts four hours (versus three hours on the previous model). They can also be used while being charged.

Once you zip them onto your legs, you can choose a level and duration on the control station on the boot or on the Hyperice app. Jacobs also recommends keeping your legs elevated while using them (I used mine while on my L-shaped sofa).

What I Like About the Normatec Elite

Wearing the Normatec Elite feels like a tight squeeze pulsating up your leg; it’s relaxing and firm but not painful. There are seven levels, and I kept it at level five. I love a deep tissue massage, but a lymphatic massage like this is different, and a higher level of compression isn’t necessarily better. As Jacobs puts it, “If you’re trying to recover, medium-to-medium high pressure is the way to go; you don’t have to max it out.” There’s a zone boost feature — which you can think of as similar to when you ask a massage therapist to stay a bit longer in a specific area. My knees needed the most love thanks to years of running, so this customization (which is unique to Normatec) was useful for me.

I found the Normatec Elite made the biggest impact for me after a long run. Aches were alleviated — not gone completely, but definitely reduced. As a study from the Journal of Athletic Training noted, a 30-minute treatment of sequential pulse massage “increases blood flow in the lower extremity, which may have implications for the treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage or DOMS [delayed-onset muscle soreness].” I’ll also note that while I tested the Normatec Elite, I was getting back into long-distance running (eight-mile runs after not running more than two-mile intervals over the last three years). Even though I was adding run durations pretty aggressively during the month, I didn’t get injured.

My sessions ranged from 30 to 60 minutes (the device offers durations from 15 to 60 minutes, in 15-minute increments). I used that time as a gateway to other recovery practices, like drinking water and doing much-needed upper body stretches. Perhaps one of my favorite components is that once you’re zipped into these boots, it appears harder than it is to get out of them. In reality, you can unzip them in just a few seconds. It allowed my time using them to be more protected. Whereas, if I’m stretching or using a massage gun, I’ll stop immediately and attend to my kids or husband. As a mom of two 2-and-under kids, this protected pocket of time was nothing short of miraculous.

I used them three to four times per week and found it incredible to unwind at the end of the day with my boots and chill TV. As a mom, there’s so much emphasis on unwinding with wine, so I love that this became my healthy ritual. My husband also used them after a hard boxing or strength-training workout.

I was also impressed that they are surprisingly quiet. I was able to watch TV while wearing them and didn’t need to increase the volume.

A key innovation with the Normatec Elite compared to previous models is their portability. Each boot weighs just 3.2 pounds, which includes the control unit that is attached to each boot. Other compression boots I’ve tried have the awkward hoses and control unit that goes between your legs and makes the whole process feel bulky. Think of it as the difference between wireless and connected headphones.

They are TSA-approved for carry-on, and truly they don’t take up much space. They come with a tote bag, which I was easily able to fit into my gym bag — Calpak’s Luka Duffel. Next time I run a half marathon, I’ll pack these for some immediate recovery.

Working in the wellness industry for nearly a decade as a fitness video director and personal trainer, I always say the best exercise is the one you’ll do. I feel especially strongly about that in terms of recovery, which is often the least fun part of the workout matrix. I’m not always consistent with stretching (boring) or foam rolling (painful), but while testing the Normatec Elite for a month, I used them four times a week, without fail. In my tenure in this industry, I’ve tried plenty of recovery products that collect dust after a few uses, but these are ones that I kept returning to.

What’s Worth Noting

At about $1,000 ($999 + tax to be exact), these are a major investment. The previous model, Normatec 3 Legs ($799), is significantly cheaper. With the higher price tag, the newest model has four hours of battery life, seven compression settings, and is the lightest of all wireless air compression boots on the market. Seeing as I used these four times a week for a month, that works out to just over $60 per session, and the price would go down the longer you have them. I think it’s important to look at the cost in this way as I have plenty of less expensive devices that I’ve only used a handful of times.

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Who Is Normatec Elite Best For?

Whether you’re a marathon runner, workout aficionado, or mom whose legs are sore from carrying small (but not that light) children all of the time, the Normatec Elite is a useful investment in your recovery. The legs are very easy to use, hands-free, and portable, and they can be used by multiple people. There are a lot of recovery tools available, but this one is scientifically based to accelerate recovery through boosting circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Additional Details

  • The Normatec Elite is available in three sizes: short, (5’3″ and under); standard (5’4″-6’3″), the one I tested; and tall (6’4″ and over).
  • It includes the two leg attachments, a wall charger, and a drawstring store and transport bag.
  • Each boot weighs 3.2 pounds, and battery life lasts up to four hours.
  • It is approved by TSA for carry-on.

Where Is the Normatec Elite Available to Shop?

Normatec Elite is available to shop at Hyperice.

Rating:

★★★★★

Genevieve Farrell Genevieve Farrell Roston is an award-winning filmmaker and the director of fitness and wellness video at PS. She oversees PS Fit, which makes fitness fun and accessible for a community of more than six million subscribers and which has a library of videos that has received more than one billion views. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with degrees in Film Production and Marketing. With more than 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry, she has produced films that screened at festivals, such as the Tribeca Film Festival, and were licensed by Showtime. Genevieve is a NASM-certified trainer and has created content for brands including Fitbit, Samsung, and Under Armour.

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