As a runner, or any athlete, the quality of your recovery process will make a huge difference to your performance. The better your recovery is after a hard session, the better you will be able to run on that next session, and the faster you will become.
It's amazing how many people just get in from a run and continue about their daily life as if they haven't gone out and battered their bodies. It is vitally important to be eating well, resting and giving your body the best chance of being ready for the next outing.
With that in mind, we have the NormaTec MVP, a pump compression system that allows your to recover faster, so you can train harder, recover faster and perform better.
NormaTec was set up by Dr Laura F. Jacobs in response seeing a need for effective treatment modalities for patients with circulation compromised by disease, surgery, radiation treatment and trauma. In 2007, top athletes started using the technology to optimise their recovery, and the NormaTec Recovery Systems were born.
What is NormaTec?
The NormaTec MVP and Pro are systems that provide dynamic compression. The system consists of a compression pump and various attachments that can be used to make the compression work for various body parts.
To begin with, lets take a look at the Science behind the NormaTec Products
The difference between NormaTec and other products is the Sequential Pulse Technology. There are three methods of massage going one when you wear the NormaTec products
1. Pulsing. Instead of just squeezing the leg to transport fluid out of the limbs, the pulsing action more effectively mimics the muscle pump of the legs and arms. It enhances the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs.
2. Gradients. Your veins and lymphatic vessels have one way valves, so fluid can flow backwards. The NormaTec technology works in a similar way by holding the pressure down, to stop the flow of fluid towards your feet. Imagine pushing toothpaste out of a tube, the NormaTec does what you should do, start at the bottom and work towards the top of the tube!
3. Distal Release. Extended static pressure can be detrimental to the body's normal circulatory flow. To get round this problem, the Sequential Pulse Technology will release the pressure that is designed to stop the back flow of fluids as soon as possible. So each part of the limb gains the maximal rest time without a significant pause between compressions cycles.
This all means that with the Sequential Pulse Technology, just 20 minutes of massage can speed up recovery.
In the bag
My NormaTec system came in a cool duffel bag. Peaking inside you can see all the bits that make up the MVP system
As part of the system you'll get a Control Unit (the box), two full length Leg Boots and the system hosing (which connects the boots to the control unit.
The NormaTec MVP is incredibly easy to set up.
Connect the power supply to the control unit
Attach hose the to the control unit
Put the boots on by undoing the zips, butting your legs securely in the boot
Connect the hose to the two boots
You are then good to go and have your first massage.
Once you power on the unit, you'll be able to set the strength of the massage by moving the arrows up or down. Each press of the arrow changes the setting by one. There are 7 settings to choose from.
To start the massage, press the big blue button in the middle
There is a turbo button available, press this to be provided with an extra increased in focus in a specific zone. Press Turbo and you'll get 30 seconds of pulsing time to whichever cell is active
To finish the massage, press the blue button in the middle.
You can let the massage run for as long as you want, but you'll get a good massage out of 30 to 60 minutes.
What does it feel like?
Using the NormaTec for the first time is very weird. The units starts by filling up all the different zones, then, starting at the feet the massage cycle begins. The pressure feels great, and you can really feel the blood pumping around your legs.
The one downside of having the NormaTec MVP Recovery system on is that you can't do anything else whilst wearing the boots! You are immobile. So, either prepare yourself with your food and drink for the next hour before you start or have a loving partner/spouse who is willing to fetch things as you need them! I've found my friends to be particularly annoying when I have the boots on, they love to put things just out of reach, or take something that I need, usually food!!
One excellent thing about the NormacTec is that they are surprisingly mobile. The unit I had came with a Battery Pack, and this provides you with three hours of battery life. I could pack the NormaTec in a bag, and use it recovery pump in the car (obviously I wasn't driving) on the way back from a half marathon. The unit isn't very heavy, with only the control unit weighing much. I even took the Recovery Pump on a recent Full Potential trip to the Algarve as carry on luggage.
Does it work?
That is the million dollar question. The NormaTec MVP is not a cheap system, coming in at $1,750.00. However, I have seen a real difference in my recovery times when using the system. Many friends that I have given the product too to test have also felt the same. I tested the system after race situations, 22 mile runs, 1 mile repeat session and even 400's. Each time I expected one of them to cause the MVP some trouble but each time I came back the next day with the legs feeling noticeably bouncier than usual. There are times when I don't use the NormaTec MVP for a few days, because of time commitments and work, and I can really feel a difference between how the legs feel after a session with the unit and without.
According toe Mesa State University's Bill Sands, the dynamic compression system, like the NormaTec system, is one of the few recovery modalities that he's studied to show clinical promise for producing an actual performance benefit.
I am a very big fan of the NormaTec MVP system. It has made a massive difference to my recovery process, which allows me to train harder and better the next day. I really can't recommend the system enough. It is a really big investment to make, but there is a reason why professional athletes all over America are using it, because it makes a difference.
The products can be purchased from the NormaTec website. The system we reviewed is the MVP, they also have a PRO system, which costs considerably more as it has more recovery options. I haven't used that system but I am confident that the MVP system will be excellent enough for your recovery needs.