We will cover the current NormaTec MVP PRO system as well as planned updates and new products that are coming in a multi-day review.
Part 1: What you get?
Part 2: Using the NormaTec
Our legs-in approach to testing.
Part 3: What we Think?
Does it give you a leg up on the competition? plus What's on tap?... We've got the low down on some exciting new developments.
We will wrap up our multi-day review on the NormaTec MVP PRO with our thoughts and experiences from using it over the last four months. We'll also give you a little inside information regarding some new and exciting updates that are coming in the near future, including a sneak peak at the much anticipated more affordable MVP unit.
This is what it's really all about. Like other reviews we've done, it's not just about the sheer compression force, but the ability to apply that force appropriately. One of the things we like most about the NormaTec MVP PRO system is not only the sheer force of the compression (which is probably more than you can stand at the highest settings) but also the way it applies the compression. We would describe the compression action of the NormaTec as more of a pulsing massage type of action rather than a "milking" action ("I have nipples Focker, can you milk me?")
The chambered boots actually work their way up your legs using the patented Peristaltic Pulse pneumatic waveform compression. That may sound like marketing mumbo jumbo but once you actually experience the difference this type of compression provides, you'll understand. Basically the multi-cell boots inflate at the bottom of the leg and compress in small sections, or chambers, as the compression moves up the leg. What's really cool about this technology is as the next chamber inflates, the chamber (or chambers) below it hold the compression and then gradually decompress as the compression cycles up the leg. It may sound crazy but you can actually feel the flushing of the legs as the compression finishes its cycle and releases at the top of the leg.
Furthermore, with these types of systems it's also important to look at the development behind the actual device. The NormaTec is the only system that we are aware of that was designed specifically for use by athletes. We understand that the debate over which system out there is the best is ongoing and probably as heated as the arguments about Ford vs Chevy.
We don't claim to be doctors or research scientists, and believe us, we realize there are more knowledgeable people out there when it comes to the science and implementation of these devices. That being said, at TriBomb we feel like we are in a pretty unique situation, because we've had the opportunity to actually test both types of systems. We will leave the arguing to the people on the Slowtwitch forums, but we can tell you that there is no comparison when it comes to the compression action of the NormaTec, Period.
In our testing with the NormaTec we found that after training, particularly after hard sessions or races, legs feel fresher and lighter in subsequent sessions the days following. Which for us at least, has meant quicker recovery times and fewer days running on dead legs or legs that feel like bricks. It's also nice to have the massaging action of the NormaTec at your disposal. The massaging compression does a great deal to reduce the muscle soreness, fatigue, and stiffness that often accompany a heavy training workload. Outside of being married to a massage therapist, the NormaTec provides about the most convenient massage option we know of.
Our main problem with any of these types of devices in general is finding the time to actually use them. Ideally, you should use the compression immediately after training to maximize the benefits. The problem for those of us who have day jobs, families, and other responsibilities, (like writing reviews) is that it becomes very difficult to work that recovery time in. If you have a 4-5 hour training session and then add an hour of "ME time" on top of that to sit around in your inflatable boots, you may quickly become the most unpopular person in your household. Most of our testing happened at night laying in bed or on the couch while watching TV, which is fine, and there are still benefits to be reaped, just something we felt was important to mention (you know, all those triathlon related divorces). Does it work? Yes, and in a perfect world we would all be able to train and recover at will. But for those of us who live in the real world it's definitely something to consider before you pull the trigger on your shiny new space boots :)
NormaTec is excited about the growth and development of their product in our sport. So, what can you look forward to seeing from NormaTec in the near future? We can tell you what we have been told (which more than likely is not everything).
First and foremost, the much anticipated NormaTec MVP is slated to be released in early 2012 (for sure this time). For those of you that don't know, the MVP is a trimmed down version of the MVP PRO unit. However, the features that are trimmed down are mostly the bells and whistles from the MVP PRO. We have been assured that the pump and compression will remain the same. You won't be able to choose the specific targeted area programs like you can on the PRO. It will come pre-programmed with the Recovery Flush (which is all you really need). And you use an old-fashioned dial to adjust the compression (hey, we are cool with whatever makes it more affordable without sacrificing quality).
So, as you can see from the sneak peak below, they have basically taken the MVP PRO, removed the LCD Screen, the touch controls, and the program selection. We are very, very excited for the release of this product as it will be much more in line with the pricing of other products in the market.
Next, NormaTec is still working to improve the MVP PRO as well. Below are changes that you can expect to see on both units soon:
- Battery option coming out that will allow you to use both systems without needing an outlet!
- New Hose/Y combo that is more integrated
- Slimmer/lighter ac/dc adapter
- Zippered or some other type of boot that is easier to get in and out of.
- Lighter material boot that is slimmer and more contoured to the leg.
New update for the MVP Pro - you can now change (higher or lower) the intensity level electronically on the fly (during treatment). You can also now add time during the treatment cycle.
WHAT WE'D LIKE TO SEE
For one, a boot that's a little easier to get in and out of, but only if it can be done without compromising the compression. A better way to keep the boots from creeping down your legs. (A magic time machine to allow us to use these things more often.) The less expensive MVP model.
As you can see from above, almost everything (well, sans the time machine) we would like to see improved, is already being addressed. From our experience working with NormaTec, it seems as they are heavily involved with their athletes and excited about their product. This is the kind of company that we like to see involved in the sport of triathlon.
TriBomb Bottom Line
Is it worth the coin? If you're a professional athlete or your time is extremely flexible, probably so. If you are concerned with investing the big bucks, you might join the hundreds (or thousands) who have pre-ordered the MVP and wait for the early 2012 Q1 release. We think it certainly works, the compression is unlike anything we've tested to date. Even if they get limited use, the comfort of having them at your disposal after those hard days is almost priceless which is why we think the NormaTec MVP PRO is Da Bomb!