After the sound success of my recent compression boots review, I actually looked forward to testing the Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs dynamic air compression boots. I'm a big fan of the brand and tried many of its massage guns before; it made sense that the Normatec 3 boots would provide a premium recovery experience, which is exactly what I needed after completing the London Marathon recently.
And sure enough, the boots helped me get back on my feet (literally) much faster than expected, and they are as good as the coveted Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots, and sleeker than Recovapro Air. The Normatec 3 aren't the perfect compression boots for recovery, but they might be the best option for certain types of athletes, especially those who need/prefer targeted recovery sessions.
Should you buy one for yourself, or are you better off getting a massage gun or another type of massage tool for your recovery needs? Let's get right into this Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs review!
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – Price and availability
The Hyperice Normatec 3 was launched in June 2022 and is available to buy now directly from Hyperice US and Hyperice UK for a recommended return price of $799/£899 (AU price and availability TBC). To clarify, this is the price for the Normatec 2 Legs system, which incorporates the control unit, the leg attachments, the hose and the power supply cable.
Sadly, the isn't a carrier included in the box, but Hyperice sells two optional carry bag options, a carry case and a carry backpack, for a whopping $150/£195. It would've been nice to have at least a soft carry pouch in the box, but I guess you just have to open that wallet a bit wider if you're planning on taking your Normatec 3 anywhere.
Speaking of paying for optional extras: the Normatec system includes arms and hip attachments, selling for $400/£375 and $250/£250, respectively. You can also buy the whole Normatec ecosystem as a bundle, which saves you some money, although money saving might not be the right word when you spend nearly $1.5k on recovery equipment.
As a side note, I spoke to endurance athletes who swear by the hip attachment of compression units, so getting the Normatec 3 Hips might not be the worst idea if your glutes need some extra tender loving care.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – How does it work?
As I explained in my Recovapro Air review, the Normatec 3 works similarly to other compression boots that use air to restrict blood flow in the limbs. Using a compression motor, the Normatec 3 – which is said to be the most tested and scientifically backed dynamic air compression system on the market – pumps air into the sleeves, which compresses the limbs, then quickly releases the tension by deflating them.
This process helps 'flush out' toxins and metabolic waste from your muscles, all the while helping hormones flood the limbs to speed up recovery. If this all sounds mumbo-jumbo, you might be surprised to hear that plenty of research looked at the musculoskeletal benefits of blood flow restriction, and although a lot of research investigated BFR training instead of recovery, BFR offers tangible benefits for recovery, too.
According to Hyperice, using the Normatec 3 increases circulation and helps you maintain your full range of motion. It also helps with lymphatic drainage and decreases pain and soreness, so you never have to let delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS for short) "cramp your style." If you're interested, you can read more about blood flow restriction training by clicking on the link.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – Ease of use
The Hyperice Normatec 3 is super easy to use. You slip on the sleeves, connect the hose to the control unit, switch it on (the unit), select the required options, and off it goes. Controlling the unit is also effortless to operate, thanks to the simple layout, as shown below:
First, you select which attachment is connected to the unit, then choose power level (1-7), choose whether you want any areas to be 'boosted' (1-5, with 1 being the foot and 5 the upper thigh), select the duration (15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes), and finally, press start. The simple interface was refreshing to use after the somewhat complicated UI of the Recovapro Air.
Once the unit is up and running, you can basically forget about it until the time's up. The Normatec 3 only massages the limbs one way – there isn't an option to customise which way it inflates, like in the case of the Recovapro Air – just like the Therabody RecoveryAir Jetboots, which makes it more appealing for less experienced (and pro) users.
Thankfully, the Normatec 3 can be paused, and better still, it can also be connected to the power source midway through the session when it runs out of battery juice. This actually happened to me: I paused the session because I had to get the door, and when I returned, the little LED display said, 'battery low', but instead of shutting the whole thing down, I could connect the control unit into the mains charger and carry on with the session.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – Recovery performance
The Hyperice Normatec 3 compression boots can provide seven different levels of compression, which can be changed throughout the session. The lightest setting barely grazes the legs, and even the strongest setting isn't quite as strong as the Recovapro Air's – according to the booklet that came in the box, the max air pressure is 110 mmHg, which is 40 mmHg less than the Recovapro Air's and 10 mmHg more than the Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots' output.
For the record, this 110 mmHg output is only available in areas where ZoneBoost is activated. – the max pressure for non-ZoneBoost areas is 100 mmHg. Speaking of ZoneBoost, it's probably the most significant USP of the system. It allows you to increase the pressure in one of the five areas of the boots, which can help speed up recovery in those areas even more.
The boots have built-in Bluetooth receivers and can be connected to the Hyperice app. Through the app, you can update the control unit, initiate and customise your sessions, and more. As a matter of fact, through the app, you can unlock the Normatec 3 boots' full potential by changing pressure and cycle times in each section of the boots (see below).
I used the Hyperice Normatec 3 after I completed the London Marathon, and needless to say, it helped tremendously to bounce back from my post-marathon slump. That's not to say other compression boots wouldn't have helped, but I really appreciated the ZoneBoost feature with which I could target that niggling pain at the top of my right calf.
Of all the boots I have tried so far, Hyperice's Normatec 3 seems the easiest to clean and maintain, mainly because it doesn't really get stuffy in the boots. Not like the others are a nightmare to air or clean, but the Normatec 3 never really needed any additional airing after the session, unlike the JetBoots.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – Verdict
Should you buy the Hyperice Normatec 3 dynamic compression boots? Yes and no. Yes, because any type of compression boots can help recovery, and if you happen to like the brand or find Normatec products appealing, you'll get an awesome recovery experience by using the Normatec 3 Legs. And no, because you could get similar systems cheaper, especially in the UK, so if price is your main concern, you might want to look elsewhere.
That said, the Hyperice Normatec 3 dynamic compression boots can shorten recovery time by targeting specific sore spots in the legs. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to initiate a session, and thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, you can fine-tune your recovery sessions to your liking.
The maximum pressure of the boots could be higher to entice pros to use the device, but for everyday recovery, the 100 mmHg max output should do. This pressure is more than enough to soothe the tired legs after an extensive running or cycling session, but not so much to help completely eradicate the effects of DOMS after a brutal leg session in the gym.
In the UK, the Normatec 3 sells for more than the Therabody RecoveryAir Jetboots, admittedly the main rival of the system. They both provide the same max pressure, but the Therabody unit is maybe even easier to use and store, thanks to its integrated pump. Therabody's offering lacks the ZoneBoost feature, though.
Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs Review – Also consider
Foam rollers are the cheapest option when it comes to active recovery tools. Cheap they might be, foam rollers are super effective in rolling out muscle knots and easing stiffness, especially in the lower limbs and the back. A growing range of studies shows foam rolling can have multiple benefits for your sporting performance. They won't help flush out toxins, though, like the Recovapro Air.