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Dynamic compression: even better than compression socks?

September 24th, 2009

normatecBack in April, when I wrote a Jockology column on compression garments, I was surprised to find out that there’s pretty good evidence that these things can actually work. “Graduated” compression socks, for instance, squeeze tightest at the bottom of the leg and gradually loosen, forcing blood back towards the heart. But regular socks have nothing on these super-fancy recovery boots that U.S. marathoner superstar Ryan Hall is now using. The picture to the right was posted on Twitter by Hall’s wife earlier this month after they started using NormaTec MVP compression boots, in this case to help recover after a long tempo run.

Basically, these things squeeze the legs with a “peristaltic pulse” that moves from the bottom of the leg towards the top, pushing blood back towards the heart. The makers refer to it as “dynamic compression” instead of the “static compression” offered by simple leggings. The idea sounds reasonable — if you believe in compression socks, then it seems like these might do the job better.

But is there any evidence, or research into how well they work? I couldn’t find any in a quick search, but I’ve e-mailed the company to see if they have anything to offer. I’ll report back when I hear from them.

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  1. Doug Beatty
    July 13th, 2010 at 20:06 | #1

    Ever hear anything back from the NormaTec MVP folks?

  2. alex
    July 13th, 2010 at 21:40 | #2

    Sorry, should have updated this long ago. Short answer: yes and no. After a couple of e-mails last fall, I got a response from someone in the company (“Sorry it’s taken me some time to get back to you…things have been in overdrive since the Tour de France and all the press that was out about Lance and the other pros who use the NormaTec…” This was in October, mind you.) He didn’t respond to any of my questions or requests about research, but offered to speak with me by phone. I sent him my number and said I was available anytime, but never heard back (he didn’t provide a number that I could call).

    It’s possible they do have some internal research supporting their claims, but by this time my patience was exhausted. My sense is that pro athletes are using it because it’s plausible that the proposed mechanism works. And now that pro athletes are using it, the company doesn’t really need to do any research, because they get all the publicity and credibility they need from the athletes.

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