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Therabody RecoveryAir Pro review

16 Feb 2022

An effective pneumatic compression system for fast recovery with impressive customisability

Cyclist Rating: 
Helps with recovery • Feels good • Reduces DOMS • Very customisable • Easy to use
Not that portable • Another thing to remember to do • Costly

The RecoveryAir Pro is a brand new pneumatic compression system from Therabody. The brand describes it as a passive recovery tool and it comes in the form of two boots and a pump.

What is pneumatic compression, I hear you say? Essentially, it's mechanical massage which uses air to squeeze the legs' muscles in an attempt to increase blood flow.

It's a technique typically used to prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and blood clots, but is also said to boost circulation, decrease swelling and reduce muscle soreness, hence its use here as a sports recovery tool.

Training and racing can have a damaging effect on the body, so whatever you are into – whether that's a multi-day event, a sportive, a bikepacking trip – recovery is really important.

Some cyclists might be more well-versed in the use of a massage gun, foam roller, or active recovery, but pneumatic compression boots offer a passive recovery option and work on the entirety of your legs at once. Therabody says this makes them ideal for efficient leg recovery.

I found the Therabody RecoveryAir Pro system worked seamlessly. It reduced my perception of DOMs (Delayed-onset muscle soreness) and my legs felt fresher the next day.

It was also straightforward to use and I’d even say it provided psychological benefits.

However, for the average cyclist the system is quite pricey, it is another thing to remember to do and whilst it is portable, I found it quite bulky when packed up.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: How it works

Getting the boots on is easy. Find a place to sit, zip yourself in and wriggle around until comfortable.

Then connect the boots to the pump and get ready to be compressed.

The pump’s interface is straightforward and simple to use. It might look like a touchscreen, but it's operated by the buttons either side of the screen.

Once a mode is chosen, the four internal overlapping chambers of the boots inflate from foot to thigh sequentially. Therabody says this optimises the movement of blood up through each leg.

The pressure is very steady and progressive.

At first using the boots feel strange. Imagine getting your blood pressure checked, starting at your feet, then your calves and then up to your thighs. After a few minutes of getting used to the sensation though it becomes pleasant.

The boots plug into the pump which has a screen showing the range of sessions to choose from.

The compression system also benefits from Therabody’s ‘Fast Flush’ Technology. This means that the boots inflate or deflate in just 60 seconds. The more flushes, the more recovery, so Therabody says.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: Modes

There are four pre-set modes: Recovery, warm up, isolation and interval.

Recovery mode lasts for 30 minutes and is, frankly, wonderful.

Over a two-week period I used the Recovery mode most nights, and sometimes even twice (because why not?) and, while I didn’t notice anything immediately that evening, the next morning my legs felt refreshed.

They did not suffer from the usual heaviness I would expect after a long day in the saddle.

It was also noticeable when I didn’t use the boots after a day of activities. The next day I was left wishing I had used them, however of course, this could be a placebo effect.

Warmup mode sees you use the boots for 15 minutes before an activity.

I sat in these before several rides. Admittedly, it did feel counterintuitive passively warming up for a ride, but I did notice at the beginning of my ride that my legs felt ready to go straight away, as opposed needing a few kilometres to wake up like they do usually.

Isolation mode lets you focus on one or several parts of your leg so you can target a specific area and a specific pressure.

I found this really helpful for targeting my quads particularly after a ride that included a lot of climbing..

Interval mode is useful for using compression in, yes you guessed it, intervals.

Set how long you want compression to be on and off for. I found the other three modes much more useful than this one because I wasn’t going to wait an hour or however long until my next compression. This mode didn’t fit into my lifestyle.

Finally, there is Pro Mode which is the most customisable option.

It allows you to tailor the system to your needs. This means choosing everything from the time, pressure, pressure gradient, to the type of cycle (sequential, flow, wave, iso) and more.

The RecoveryAir Pro system has an adjustable pressure range of 20-100 mmHg in increments of 5 mmHg. That means you can choose whatever setting you require very accurately, which proved to be a useful feature in Pro Mode.

That said, I didn’t get much use out of this mode as I was happy enough to use the presets.

However, if you are looking for more specific compression regimes then I’d say this mode is ideal.

You can also save any profiles you make so you can easily reuse them.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: Psychological recovery

It wasn’t just the physical aspect of the RecoveryAir Pro which was valuable, I found the system also provided psychological benefits.

What makes passive recovery great in my opinion is that it is so simple to do. You just sit there and the compression boots do the work.

The rhythm of the boots is very calming, and during a recovery session I often found myself in a zen like trance.

Interestingly, Therabody recommends practicing mindfulness when using the RecoveryAir Pro.

‘Taking the time to connect your mind with what’s happening is really important,’ says Dr Jason Wersland, founder and chief wellness officer at Therabody.

‘Practicing mindfulness whilst using the the RecoveryAir Pro system is a great way to connect the mind and the body, and to visualise what you want to do.’

I think Dr Wersland has a point. Practising some focussed mindfulness while wearing the compression boots in the evening, I felt relaxed, and dare I say it, slept very well afterwards.

When not practicing any mindfulness techniques, I found that zipping into the boots in front of a great TV show (Death in Paradise – am I right?), was ideal for whiling away the time I spent with the boots on.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: Portability

If you are investing £1,129 in a pair of recovery boots you are going to want to be able to take these with you, on a cycling holiday or to a race.

Once fully charged, the compression boots do not need the power cord. Therabody says the boots have 240 minutes of battery life, which I found to be true.

The RecoveryAir Pro system also comes with a pouch for the boots and the pump, making them easy to transport.

However, when packed down the boots and console would take up significant space in a suitcase or even the entirety of a carry-on bag.

I haven’t travelled anywhere with these yet, but I would need to have a big suitcase in order to warrant taking them on a cycling holiday or similar.

This won’t be an issue for some but is worth bearing in mind.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: Safety

Therabody says the RecoveryAir Pro has built in ‘TruGrade’ Technology which assures the direction of blood flow.

This means that the pressure will always start in your feet (or at the bottom of your chosen area) and gradually build towards the centre of your body.

It also allows you to adjust pressure independently in each chamber.

Notably, it also doesn’t matter whether you are sitting down with legs outstretched or in another position, the pressure will always start at the bottom which is a useful safeguard.

I found this to be true as however I was sat, the boots still worked exactly as they said they would.

The RecoveryAir Pro compression boots are also very easy to clean as the design of the overlapping internal chambers gives them just one smooth surface.

Therabody says from spring 2022 users will be able to control the pressure from the Therabody app on your smart phone and share your programmes with other users, such as a coach.

Therabody RecoveryAir Pro: Verdict

After using the device for several weeks, I believe it has helped my legs recover faster, reduced DOMS and was an overall enjoyable recovery experience, when I remembered to do it.

As is always the case with a recovery aid, it is only worthwhile if practised consistently and in the case of the RecoveryAir Pro, if your pockets are deep enough.

Compared to similar systems on the market, the Therabody RecoveryAir Pro is in line price wise.

However, to the average cyclist spending £1,129 on a recovery product will feel like a big investment that won’t appeal to everyone.

Therabody does offer two other cheaper versions: RecoveryAir Prime (£599) and RecoveryAir JetBoots (£779).

Therabody says they have much of the same technology as the RecoveryAir Pro, but are just less customisable, so they may be a more wallet-friendly option for those intrigued by what the RecoveryAir Pro can offer.

  • Buy the Therabody RecoveryAir Pro (£1129)

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