By now, you've probably seen the viral photo of Friends star Jennifer Aniston in space-age-looking recovery boots doing the rounds. Wondering what on earth they are and what they're actually for? You're not alone - search for recovery boots is up 50% at current.
This is likely because the star, who shared a photo of herself wearing them on Instagram, is known for looking after herself (case in point: she joined the team at Vital Proteins as Chief Creative Officer last year).
So, are the boots really the next big wellness trend to *add to basket* or head in studio to try? Or are they another high price point fad that'll sit in your garage gathering dust for the next few years? A good question - which is why, as a Health Editor, I'm sharing my honest experience with the boots below.
I've tried them a few times now and have some thoughts. Keep scrolling to read my take - and don't miss our guides on top tips for workout recovery, the best fitness trackers, and the best Fitbits, plus one MC UK Editor's Lumen metabolism tracker review, while you're here.
I tried the viral recovery boots Jen An loves - my honest thoughts
Let's start with a little overview of what exactly these space-age boots are and what they promise to do.
From many of the same companies that launched massage guns designed to boost muscle recovery from home, these boots have been rising in popularity over the last year or so as celebrities and athletes alike use them to promote blood flow and lymphatic drainage and, in turn, reduce inflammation.
According to Nikos Skevis, Master Trainer and Educational Consultant for Hyperice, compression boots use dynamic air compression to create a restorative massage that helps your muscles feel better, faster. "The precision pulse technology helps to increase circulation, revive muscles, and reduce swelling," he goes on.
Wondering how they work? Good question. "A good compressive therapy device will effectively squeeze from the bottom to the top of the limb, "milking" the tissues and mobilising stagnant fluids in the circulatory and lymphatic systems," he explains. "In the veins, blood lacking in oxygen can then be used to supply fresh oxygen to the tissues of the body. Lymphatic fluid, which mops up toxins and waste, is moved to the lymphatic nodes, or glands, where it can be filtered of waste."
Not following? He draws this comparison: "Imagine rolling a tube of toothpaste from the bottom to the top to get the last bit of toothpaste out," he details. "This is a great analogy for how the Normatec works to move the fluids in your leg from bottom to top."
The theory with these tools is that you can get as good a massage from home as, say, during a session with a professional sports therapist. And while the jury is still out on whether they're as effective, they certainly look to have been a hit if my social media feed is anything to go by.
Designed for use after particularly hard workouts, the theory is that reducing inflammation helps small muscle tears to recover more quickly, a common side effect of strenuous workout sessions.
It might all sound a bit tech-heavy but, as you'll read below, it's really as simple as popping them on, sitting back, and relaxing.
What I thought when testing
Now to what I thought when trying the boots. I've tried a few different brands on the market now and didn't notice much of a difference between them.
My first time testing was back in October 2021 after I'd just run my first Boston Qualifying London Marathon. It's fair to say my legs were sore - I remember walking proving difficult on the way there - so any chance of boosting recovery got a yes from me.
I headed to the Digme studio in Central London as they had several pairs of Normatec boots available to try. My first thoughts? I'm surprised by how relaxing the process is. Normally if I'm heading in studio it's for a sweaty treadmill class or weights session - not this time, where all I'm doing is watching two leg-length sleeves inflate and deflate around my tired legs.
It's as simple as pulling on both boots, sitting back and inputting how long you'd like the session to run for. I opt for 45 minutes, as advised by the coaches on hand, for optimal recovery time.
They feel kind of similar to a blood pressure monitor in the way they work, gently applying pressure to varying points on your hamstrings, calves, ankles and feet.
While they might feel a little loose when you first pull them on, trust me that once the air pressure kicks in, they'll feel tight enough. Don't worry, though - it's far from being painful and you also have the option with all of the ones I've tried to raise or lower your pressure setting if at any point.
More recently, I've also headed into 180 The Strand and tried the Hyperice boots after a particularly heavy marathon training week.
Now to the important part: how did my legs feel the next day, after using the boots? My legs did feel lighter and less sore than in previous marathon and marathon training sessions, but my honest thoughts are that you'd have to use them regularly (three or so times a week) to notice a real difference.
I much preferred them to my massage gun as I didn't have to hold anything - I could happily read my book or fire off work emails while they worked their magic. Similarly, they were covering a much bigger surface area than I could with the handheld gun, meaning I felt I was using my time more effectively.
I was surprised by how quiet they were - while you can hear a slight hiss of air as they inflate and deflate, you could definitely wear them while watching TV without it being too noisy.
That said, the boots are expensive, and while if you use them regularly they'll become a good investment over time, it's important to think realistically about how often you'll use them before you buy. Otherwise - you know the drill - they'll just end up gathering dust under your bed or in a spare room.
Where you can try them
If you're willing to make the investment, you can purchase your very own pair for at-home use - my favourites are listed below.
In London, they're also widely available in salons and studios. 180 The Strand and LondonCryo are my current go-to's.
Using a gentle squeezing massage, the FIT KING massager machine will adjust the pressure and inflation volume based on the size of your legs. Also worth noting: it comes with a handy storage bag making it easy to transport.
Using dynamic air compression to boost your recovery time, these boots from Normatec use patented precision pulse technology to increase circulation, revive muscles, and reduce swelling. A firm favourite among celebrities and athletes alike.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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