In-home fitness has been increasing in popularity, and it saw an even quicker rise during the pandemic when people felt pressured to stay home to stay safe. We strive to get in shape, stay healthy, grow muscles, or achieve a more excellent version of ourselves. Unfortunately, as we feel more rushed in society and pushed to take on more at once, we forget how to balance self-care while achieving our goals. As we evolve, so must our routines. So we find ways of balancing growth and recovery while on the go in our busy lives.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to test out the garment specifically for legs from Therabody known as the RecoveryAIR Compression Boots. What these products would do first is that ballooned around my foot then the material would move up section by section to my upper thigh near my hip. "The spiraling overlap of each chamber has a true negative gradient, which safely maximizes circulation versus other designs that interrupt airflow and create potentially harmful peaks and valleys of pressure," Thereabody states on their website.
While partnerships are made between Therabody and professional athletes, sports leagues, and teams, the credibility of their devices increases; however, so does the risk of the intimidation factor to average consumers. People see professionals like soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, NBA's James Harden, actress, and dancer Julianne Hough, among others, using Therabody's devices, and questions of uncertainty come to mind. Many may wonder if they even need this level of recovery therapy or if the cost is worth swapping out cheaper alternatives. Therabody constantly soothes those concerns by investing time and research to create top-of-the-line full-body recovery devices that average consumers can use with varying needs or budgets.
The Science Behind RecoveryAir’s Compression Therapy
When it comes to Therabody’s more recent line of physical therapy equipment, the RecoveryAir, and RecoveryAir PRO, their principle of natural healing remains true. RecoveryAir Compression Therapy products stimulate the natural process of muscle growth and recovery through scientifically validated devices that you can have with you virtually anywhere. The fast-growing health tech company, Therabody, which specializes in full-body recovery products, has once again brought pro-luxury treatment to the homes of the average joe who may not necessarily have fitness as their primary means of what makes their livelihood.
While Therabody's well-known and successful massage guns specialize in percussive therapy, the RecoveryAir series is all about compression therapy. Their compression therapy uses a soft, flexible garment that fills with air to knead your body to the pressure of your liking. While this device is excellent for intense athletes, it is also great for those trying to balance fitness into their busy work schedule, like going from a workout straight to the office or to their remote job at home where they sit for long periods. That's because too much total rest post-workout is counterintuitive to the way the body works. The blood needs to flow and allow nutrients to be brought to the muscles for healing and recovery. While this may be an excellent time to use Therabody's percussive massage guns, sometimes you need a hands-free approach from a device that encompasses an entire section of your body and allows for multi-tasking or a more profound relaxation session. By easily strapping on the RecoveryAir compression garment and setting your preferred levels of therapy, you can sit back and let it do the work for you.
RecoveryAir uses technology that Therabody calls "true negative gradient pressure." This means pressure sequentially travels up from the lowest part of the body that the garment is wrapped around toward the heart in four overlapping internal chambers, each with slightly lower pressure than the last. You can currently purchase multiple kinds of garments for different parts of your body:
● Vest (for chest, shoulder, and arm)
● Pants (low back, core, and legs)
● Sleeves (arms)
However, to let our muscles and the body recover, it needs special treatment. These higher levels of treatment always seemed reserved for the paid athletes and wealthy fitness gurus. Tech wellness companies, like Therabody, are bringing that level of luxury care to the busy average consumer looking to maximize their recovery times and naturally increase the efficiency of reaching their fitness goals. A considerable portion of the population wants to achieve fitness and health goals, but they require so much recovery time and paid services, like weekly massage therapy visits, that it starts to feel like a very steep and painful climb. Rather than relying solely on muscle milk or popping pills full of harmful ingredients, full-body recovery technology works with the technology of your body rather than against it. This process encourages the natural blood flow your body goes through to assist in growth and recovery. Alternative methods, such as compression socks, tend to hold the pressure continuously in one area.
This principle of true negative gradient technology is not just a loose claim made on Therabody’s website. It’s backed by science and works with the processes of our body rather than against it. The American Physiological Society posted a scientific study in the Journal of Applied Physiology that backs the benefits of this type of therapy called “intermittent pneumatic compression of muscles.” The study concluded that “appropriately timed application of compression during exercise increases arterial blood flow to the working muscle. Additionally, compression application during recovery from exercise also increased muscle blood flow with potential implications for exercise recovery.”
The increase of blood circulation and temperature from the massage also helps increase flexibility while stimulating muscle hypertrophy. According to an article from Medical News Today, “Muscle hypertrophy occurs when the fibers of the muscles sustain damage or injury. The body repairs damaged fibers by fusing them, which increases the mass and size of the muscles.” So by stimulating fiber healing, the massage from compression therapy stimulates muscle growth.
Healthcare Beyond Fitness
Intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) devices, like the RecoveryAir series, go beyond the fitness world and have an overall positive impact on health. They can help prevent deep vein thrombosis like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). According to an online article verified by Medical reviewers and posted by the University of Rochester Medical Centerand John Hopkins Medicine, “The compression helps move blood through your veins towards your heart. IPC also promotes the natural release of substances in your body that help prevent clots. Between compressions, the cuffs of the device relax, and oxygen-rich blood continues to flow in the arteries of your leg.”
Another benefit of IPC is relief from muscle atrophy symptoms, which causes muscle strength and mass to decrease over time, usually seen with the elderly or injured. The list of medical benefits from compression therapy goes on, and I advise those reading this article to do their research before using a medical-grade device.
My Experience With Therabody’s Compression Therapy
Being mildly active and only recently restarting my workout routines while also sitting often for work, I was able to experience a solid example of the benefits of this product to the average consumer. My situation is like many people whom Therabody’s compression technology is designed for.
So within about a week, I went on some steep trail hikes, ran through the neighborhood on hard pavement, and performed some cardio exercises like burpees which put extra strain on various muscle groups from the hips down. I also continued my regular work, often seated and typing away on a computer at home. These were the perfect opportunities to zip up the compression leg garment and start up the easy-to-use device attached by an air hose.
Before I go further into my results from using the RecoveryAir device, I should introduce the product while unwrapping the packaging. When I first looked up the product before trying it myself, I was worried I’d be overwhelmed and not use it properly. After all, it is a relatively expensive product that is officially classified as a medical device, meaning it’s been regulated and tested by the FDA. It is also used and backed by professional athletes and teams during their extensive workout and recovery routines. Would a reasonably active, average joe like myself understand the instructions or use the device enough to benefit me? I quickly realized the answer to that is a relieving, satisfied, “oh yes!”
With products of varying price points targeting different parts of the body, you don’t have to be a New England Patriot to reap the benefits of full-body recovery therapy. Their website even offers plenty of education that dives into the science behind their ever-developing technology while speaking in layman’s terms.
For starters, the components were simple, with only a few pieces that quickly snapped together. The user guide is an easy read and breaks things down, so people who aren't fitness experts understand. It was a huge relief to be able to read the manual entirely without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated. This helped me customize the product to my needs which I was initially worried would be too difficult to figure out.
Overall, the setup and first-time use went smoothly with minimal confusion. The only slightly confusing moment was when I first attempted to adjust the 'hold time' between compression cycles. The directions mentioned an alarm that would notify you of the different lengths of time you are changing as you hold down the button but didn't mention the display light on the total 'massage time' momentarily changing. Other than that minor learning curve of communication between you and the machine, I'd say overall. It's a straightforward, user-friendly device.
It can be intimidating at first, wrapping your entire leg or arm into one of the RecoveryAir garments, zipping up your limb for a machine to hum as it squeezes around you softly. Fortunately, there is a wide range of pressure levels to adjust to your liking and comfort with a giant pause button if you need to change the level mid-cycle quickly. I followed the instructions' recommendation of starting at a low level and feeling it out. This would be the best way for anyone to begin using this medical-grade device. Don't push yourself on the pressure settings. The device guide advises the user to start low and ease up if necessary. Too much pressure and you can do more harm than good. This is also why it is essential to ensure you have the proper size garment. Before purchasing, refer to Therabody's size chart to ensure you purchase the correct size. The printed guide that comes with your Therabody RecoveryAir product also instructs you not to put the compression garment on bare skin or any material that can harmfully press against your skin, like buttons or oversized zippers.
I tried out different times of the day and after various physical activities to feel the varying effects. I gained relief and strength by using my Therabody leg garment post workouts or after being immobile for an extended period. I could combat some of the sores that came from not being consistently active the past year. There were a couple of major cramps during my first two days of running that I didn't think would be soothed by RecoveryAir. However, after a single 20-minute session with the compression device, I had already gained flexibility, reduced pain, and decreased my recovery time. Usually, I'd probably have the same cramp slowing me down for at least another day.
I also tried out the different settings to see what fit me while also seeing what the machine is capable of. The RecoveryAir has gradient pressure settings from 1-100. That level of pressure variety is far superior to Therabody's competitors. However, I'd like to see more customization capabilities added to the current price value since some competitors offer more for less money. Still, this option from RecoveryAir was perfect for different tension levels in my muscles or varying levels of fitness I took on. Overall, the perks brought by the highly developed, science-backed technology of Therabody still superseded its competition. You can also choose from different massage times: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 'continuous.' I typically stuck around 15 to 30 minutes which was perfect for me and my needs. You can adjust the interval time 'hold time' between complete cycles by three varying levels, as I mentioned previously. There wasn't a vast difference between those three times, but they still were nice to have when you required different break times from the pressure on your limb due to varying circulation needs.
Therabody's RecoveryAir and RecoveryAir PRO brings a more holistic and luxury approach to the average joe with professional care. This product has been a game-changer even for someone mildly active, like myself, and only recently restarting my workout routines. To experience a solid example of the benefits of this product and recommend a product like this was a no-brainer to those that either move too little throughout the day or workout daily to use the technology is designed for. The company continues its mission to give people the accessibility of whole-body recovery in their own homes. Your health and fitness goals are lifelong journeys that don’t have to be so painful. By bringing a top-of-the-line recovery tool to your home, you can get the treatment of a professional athlete without solely relying on pills or constant visits to licensed therapists.
I'm looking forward to seeing Therabody grow as a company as it grows its line of products. Companies like Therabody are doing wonders for everyone that believes in natural self-care and full-body health.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.