How Leg Recovery Boots Work and The 6 Best Leg Compression Boots for Runners in 2023

Recovery time forms an important part of your training schedule, and you may already be using activities like power walking, yoga, and foam rolling during your active rest days.

But more and more athletes are finding a new way to recover after intense activity – and that’s by using compression boots.

Originally designed to treat patients suffering from lymphedema – a condition where fluid collects in the body’s tissues and causes swelling – these devices help increase the flow of blood to your tired muscles.

They have been steadily making their way into gyms across the country for some time. And more recently, versions have been developed for home use, too.

So how do compression boots for legs actually work, and what are the benefits to using them?

In this guide, we’ll be answering these questions and taking a closer look at some of our favorite compression boots on the market right now.

leg compression boots visual

How Do Compression Boots Work?

Compression boots help increase the flow of blood to your legs by inflating and deflating to create pressure at certain points – a process known as pneumatic compression.

As the flow of blood increases, metabolic waste is more efficiently circulated through the blood. This means it can be eliminated from the body more quickly, speeding your recovery.

Whilst air compression leg massagers might be a relatively new concept, the idea of using compression to promote blood flow isn’t.

Compression socks – relatively tight at the bottom and looser towards the top – have been used for a long time to increase blood flow from the feet upwards.

But with compression socks, the amount of pressure exerted is consistent. With boots, the compression level can be varied.

What’s more, the constant cycle of inflation and deflation within each segment of the boot provides active – rather than static – compression.

This makes compression boots for legs far more effective in promoting blood flow than socks.

Woman with calf ache

The benefits of using them include:

  • A reduction in muscle soreness – indeed, there are small-scale studies that suggest they can alleviate the pain associated with DOMS.
  • Less swelling in the feet and legs after intense runs.
  • Improvements in recovery time and performance.
  • The blissful feeling you get whilst using them! Owning an air compression leg massager is a bit like having your own personal masseuse.

Features to Look For in Compression Boots

The first thing to consider is the fit. Compression boots for legs tend to come in a range of sizes, and you’ll usually need to know your total height and inseam length before ordering.

Always refer to the size chart for each particular brand before making your choice.

A good fit is essential, as small boots will feel uncomfortable and loose ones won’t exert the right level of pressure.

woman with sore leg muscles

Other things to think about include:

Chambers

The more air chambers your boots have, the more effective the massage they will give you.

Ideally, choose a device with at least four air chambers.

Number of Settings

The best compression boots provide the option to alter the level of pressure exerted with each pulse. Some even allow you to isolate certain areas within the leg.

Try to find a model that has at least three compression levels, as these will make it versatile enough to address a range of needs.

Leg compression

Noise Levels

Using your boots should be a relaxing experience. Many people like to sit back and read or watch a movie as their aching muscles are soothed!

For that reason, ensure you choose a model with an air pump that runs as quietly as possible.

The 6 Best Leg Compression Boots for Runners

#1. Hyperice Normatec 3 Recovery System

Hyperice Normatec 3 Recovery System

– 7 compression levels, 3 hours of battery life, and connection via Bluetooth to the Hyperice app

– Best boots for isolating particular zones

Using the brand’s patented Pulse and ZoneBoost technology, these boots give you the option to deliver precise treatment to certain zones.

This helps reduce or prevent soreness in areas you know you’ve trained particularly hard that day.

We love the simplicity of the zip-up design that allows you to get set up and start relaxing in minutes.

We are also impressed by the lightweight controller, which is incredibly intuitive for such a sophisticated device.

This makes it quick and easy to set the compression intensity, length of treatment, and which chambers to boost for more targeted therapy.

Our only complaint is that no carry case is provided – pretty disappointing considering the price.

#2. Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots

Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots

– 4 compression levels and Bluetooth app connectivity, with integrated pumps and one-touch controls

– The best wireless compression boots

If you’re constantly on the go and need portable boots you can use without an outlet, look no further than the popular JetBoots from Therabody.

The wireless pumps are located at the bottom, and the simple control panel is built into the top of each boot.

That means there are no extra parts and nothing to carry, making them easy to use anywhere.

Therabody’s TruGrade technology delivers an effective massage, filling each of the four chambers in sequence.

Whilst there may only be four compression level settings, the highest is just the same as with other boots from Therabody.

Meanwhile, the FastFlush Technology completes each cycle of inflation and deflation in just 60 seconds, a feature designed to speed recovery.

These user-friendly boots are available in 3 sizes and boast a generous battery life of 4 hours.

#3. FIT KING Leg Compression Boots

FIT KING Leg Compression Boots

– 3 compression levels, 3 air chambers, and built-in pressure sensors

– Best budget-friendly option

These boots from FitKing may be somewhat lacking in terms of features and customization but are more affordable than some of the better-established brands.

You can choose between three levels of pressure and three massage modes, then set the timer for either 20, 25, or 30 minutes.

Designed to accommodate both small and large leg sizes, the boots are equipped with pressure sensors to ensure that they deliver just the right level of compression.

The pumps operate quietly, and the simple zippered front makes it quick and easy to take the boots on and off.

They come with their own carry bag – a nice little extra that even some of the high-end brands don’t include!

#4. Therabody RecoveryAir Prime Air Compression Leg Massager

Therabody RecoveryAir Prime Air Compression Leg Massager

– Blocker plug to use just one boot, easy-to-clean interior lining, and a range of pressure settings

– A great mid-range option

With a seamless interior to keep them fresh and hygienic, Therabody’s Prime boots are the most affordable in the RecoveryAir line.

They offer identical compression performance to the JetBoots, using TruGrade and FastFlush technologies for rapid, effective therapy.

But you have a lot more features, with nine compression settings for precise application of pressure, 2 preset treatment programs, and 4 time-interval options.

The pump is separate, so there’s a bit more kit to carry around with you, but it operates very quietly, allowing you to sit back and enjoy some TV or music as you relax.

A choice of size options ensures you’ll get a great fit and the battery will last for up to 3 hours.

#5. Therabody RecoveryAir PRO – Compression Massage Boots

Therabody RecoveryAir PRO - Compression Massage Boots

– Four preset programs, highly customizable, and a four-hour battery life

– The premium option in the RecoveryAir line-up

This is the most expensive pair of compression boots for legs in our guide.

But that high price brings you plenty of high-end features including freestyle customization and four inflation cycles: sequential, flow, isolation, and wave.

The time settings are adjustable, too, ranging from 10 to 90 minutes.

Like all RecoveryAir boots, the PRO version claims to deliver pressure massage 2 to 3 times faster than competitors thanks to its use of FastFlush Technology.

But this is the only pair in the range that offers Zone control, allowing you to apply pressure where it’s really needed.

A blocker plug is provided to allow you to use just one boot at a time and the companion app makes it easy to control the settings.

#6. Rapid Reboot Recovery System

MOMO OMM Kamleika Running Jacket

– 10 pressure settings, four chambers, and an easy-to-clean seamless interior

– Our favorite compression boots for legs

It may not have all the frills of the RecoveryAir PRO, but the Rapid Reboot Recovery System is our top pick as an advanced but more affordable all-rounder.

With five different full-leg size options for a perfect fit, these durable boots have four different zones – the foot, calf, knee, and quads/hamstrings.

You have the option to deactivate certain zones to allow for more targeted recovery.

There are also two compression settings, 3 session duration options, and a position indicator.

This is helpful in achieving the proper alignment to get the most from your recovery sessions.

Our only complaint is about the control unit, which is pretty big and a bit of a nuisance when traveling.

But that aside, we found these boots easy to use and very good value for money.

The Best Leg Compression Boots for Runners: Key Takeaways

There’s nothing quite as relaxing after a challenging run as using an air compression leg massager to ease away your discomfort and aid your recovery.

Whilst most of these boots require a significant investment, they make it possible to enjoy the benefits of professional compression therapy technology right in the comfort of your own home.

Woman doing a quad stretch

How Can I Exercise On Rest Days?

It’s important to allow your body to recover after intense activity, especially if you’re feeling tired or burnt out.

Passive recovery gives your muscles the chance to repair and strengthen, ultimately improving your overall fitness.

But if you’re stuck for active recovery ideas for the days you want to keep moving, then check out our Guide to Rest Day Workouts.

Photo of author
Christine Albury is a dedicated runner and fitness nerd and certified personal trainer: when she's not working out she is studying the latest fitness science publications, and testing out the latest running gear!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.