By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Using the RENPHO for only fifteen minutes per day is amazing for anyone who exercises often or suffers from leg pain due to a medical condition. It reduces muscle fatigue, helps you recover from workouts faster, and reduces inflammation to help your body and mind relax. It’s also made of very soft materials that won’t irritate your skin and high-quality velcro that lasts past 10,000 uses. The RENPHO also has six different modes and four different massage intensities to help you customize your massage to your preference. One of my favorite features is that it shuts off after twenty minutes so that it won’t overheat if you fall asleep while using it. I also like how it’s easy to travel with so you can use it wherever you go. Be sure to consult your doctor and use extra care if you have skin infections, high blood pressure, use a pacemaker, or have another serious medical condition.
Unlike the NormaTec, the RENPHO’s compressive device doesn’t move in waves. Each piece inflates and deflates in unison which may not be as helpful for increasing blood flow. Each piece also straps to your leg with velcro so it will take some time to learn how tightly you should close the pieces. Lastly, the buzzing sound the machine makes as it fills the boots with air can be a little off-putting. It isn’t so loud that it would keep you from watching TV or talking to friends, but it is louder than the NormaTec.
The RENPHO is a bit louder and more cumbersome than the NormaTec boots. However, it still helps your body feel more relaxed as it increases your circulation and reduces inflammation. It also helps you recover faster from workouts, reduces stress, and helps with a multitude of health issues (edema, blood clot reduction, inflammation, etc.). If you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, or have another serious medical condition, you should consult a doctor before use.
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For decades, air compression devices have been used as a treatment for peripheral artery disease and lymphedema—chronic leg swelling. It wasn’t until recently that medical professionals began to prescribe them for athletic performance, stress relief, and minor aches and pains. Because they’re so versatile and are easy to use no matter if you’re home or on vacation, leg massagers can often be a bit pricey. The RENPHO leg massager, however, is still very versatile and is much less expensive. Snapping up a pair could be an ideal way to recover after a workout like this leg day workout for women.
I had been dying for a pair of my own boots ever since I tried them at a cryotherapy spa, and I decided to check out the quality of the RENPHO leg massagers. After a fifteen-minute session at the spa in one of most expensive brands (Normatec), my post-workout muscle soreness and limited range of motion was drastically reduced. I felt rested, less stressed, and ready to conquer my next workout. Even if you’re not a workout junkie, the booties can reduce the leg fatigue you can get from just sitting or standing too long. During these times of COVID-19 quarantine, where we are all stuck in our apartments with limited activity, boots like this could be especially helpful to increase your blood flow.
So what exactly is an air compression leg massager? It’s a device that wraps around your legs and feet, like a pair of boots. Once it’s in place, you can set it to different pressure levels so that it inflates and deflates with air, applying that pressure to your legs. Air compression leg massagers are much gentler than a regular massage and are perfect for anyone suffering from leg discomfort. They softly knead the muscle, increasing blood flow to the area to speed up healing. As blood flows into the area, it pushes waste out of the cells in your legs and feet, releasing pain-killing endorphins and ushering in fresh nutrients.
Although all of the boots use air pressure to massage your legs, not all of them are equally effective. Normatec boots are considered to be the golden standard because they offer several different intensity levels and have been used in the health field for decades. I was excited to try out the RENPHO leg massager because its pressure can be adjusted too.
One of the earliest uses for compression boots was edema reduction. Edema is often caused if your body can’t efficiently drain excess lymph fluid and it pools in your legs. Pneumatic compression increases the flow of your lymph system, pushing out excess fluid and reducing swelling. As the air pressure increases the movement in your lymphatic circulation system, it removes toxins, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid. All of these substances can be responsible for making your legs swell. Flushing your lymphatic system also flushes out the toxins.
Compression boots are a very effective treatment for edema reduction because they are gentler than the typical massage and their pressure can be adjusted. Although significant pressure is required to circulate blood and lymph fluid, standard manual massages, electric massages, and vibrating foam rollers/standard foam rollers are usually too aggressive. Pneumatic pressure devices apply the proper amount of pressure so they can be put directly onto the affected leg, softly discarding fluid buildup. They also cause the body to release endorphins, which actually reduces the pain you feel. If you’re not excessively active, which is hard for most of us with our busy schedules, it can be really hard to clear water retention. Therefore, compression boots are an amazing solution to help you get rid of and avoid swelling.
Edema can also be the result of a blood circulation problem or venous disease. Many patients who have injuries, obesity, blood clots, or are sedentary will have edema from excess blood pooling. Compression boots increase blood circulation, thereby decreasing water retention, venous pressure, and blood volume.
Because compression boots increase blood flow, they are also responsible for decreasing muscle inflammation. The less inflamed your muscles, the less fatigued you feel, the better control you have over them, and the better you can perform! Perhaps most importantly, you will recover faster after a workout, feel less sore, and be better equipped to take on your day. As such, air compression may be one of the most effective types of massage therapy for athletes.
Every single time you exercise, your muscle fibers tear, causing inflammation and lactic acid build-up. This is what causes you to feel sore, tired, and weaker after a workout. When your muscles heal a few days later, they are stronger. Yet in the meantime, you must deal with a decrease in your performance and an inability to get the most out of your next workout. This is why it’s so important to recover properly and as quickly as possible.
Eating healthy foods and getting proper rest and water can all increase healing. However, increasing blood circulation is one of the most effective ways to promote recovery, and that’s where recovery boots come in. Since they increase your blood circulation more than your body could on its own, they increase the speed at which you can eliminate lactic acid from your muscles. Recovery boots work most efficiently if you use them after your workout every day. The more you use them, the more effective your body will be at pushing out post-workout toxins and getting ahead of the soreness. The less sore you are, the more you can maximize your training!
By increasing blood circulation, compression boots can also help you prevent injuries and recover from them faster. Most of us have experienced some type of injury, however small. Shin splints, bone fractures, and tendon injuries are common but could have been avoided had you given yourself enough rest or performed an exercise with the correct form. Excessive exercise doesn’t allow your body enough time to recover and actually breaks your body down instead.
You can reduce your recovery time by using compression boots, though. Research shows that compression boots reduce inflammation and post-workout muscle tears. If used regularly, they can take away your muscle fatigue and joint pain faster, getting you back in the gym in no time.
Recovery boots also lessen the muscle fatigue and joint pain you feel when stretching. As we said before, the boots help your muscles recover much quicker which will make them feel less strained when you stretch. However, this reduction in muscle tonicity seems to be a result of something deeper. Pneumatic compression actually enhances the neuromuscular system, increasing your range of motion. At this point, we don’t know the extent to which it increases ROM, as more studies need to be conducted.
At this point, it should be a no brainer that compression boots improve your leg circulation. However, it’s also helpful to see how improving your circulation benefits other physiological issues besides the aforementioned edema and muscle fatigue/inflammation.
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According to one study, compressed air massage increases skin blood flow in localized areas of the body for at least fifteen minutes after a forty-five-minute treatment. This means that only the areas being compressed will see changes in blood flow. For example, if you were massaging the left leg, you wouldn’t see blood flow increases on the right leg.
This improvement in circulation is so effective that it can be used instead of blood thinners to prevent patients from getting blood clots after joint replacement surgery. According to another study, it’s even more effective because it provides greater safety to patients and helps them treat their symptoms with a more natural approach. To prevent blood clots, it’s customary for doctors to either prescribe blood thinners or compression massage to maintain normal blood flow.
Now that we understand what a compression massager does and how beneficial it can be for our health, let’s examine one of the best, NormaTec, in comparison to the RENPHO.
NormaTec is considered the gold standard of leg massagers and is the one most frequently used by athletes and cryotherapy spas. As one of the first sports recovery companies to build a pneumatic compression device, NormaTec produces some of the highest quality products. It is a patented compression device that has two separate inflatable boots. Each boot covers the entirety of your leg and compresses it at four different intensities as air inflates and deflates the material. These compressions move in waves throughout the boot to push blood along its path. Although NormaTec is made with the best quality and design, it is extremely expensive. At $1295.00 on Amazon, it becomes an extremely unattractive choice for personal use.
Like the NormaTec, the RENPHO’s air pressure can be adjusted to different intensities, and it covers your entire leg from your foot all the way past your thighs. There are some features that aren’t made as well as the NormaTec that we will examine in more detail below. However, since it covers the most surface area and is made durably, it is the best alternate choice at only $99.99.
If you liked this review then be sure to read up on the RENPHO body fat scale, too.