Using Dynamic Compression to Speed Up Rehab and Recovery

Updated: This post was originally published on November 2, 2016 and has been refreshed as of March 3, 2020.

External dynamic compression—squeezing the extremities and limbs to flush toxins out of tired, sore muscles—is well known for its beneficial role in healing and recovery. So, it is not surprising that many physical therapists now offer pneumatic compression sessions—typically in NormaTec recovery boots and sleeves—to their patients. These low maintenance, durable, and lightweight systems enhance the body’s natural ability to recover—working to make compression therapy an integral part of every patient treatment plan.

What Is NormaTec Technology?

NormaTec technology utilizes compressed-air massage sleeves that are attached to the limbs. This technology was developed by vascular expert and NormaTec founder, Dr. Laura P. Jacobs, in the late 1990s. It was created as a non-invasive way to treat circulation-related disorders. Today, it is common to see athletes using this technology to promote rapid recovery in their muscles between workouts, to get “fresh legs faster,” and to improve overall athletic performance.

But those same benefits make NormaTec a boon to non-athletes, too. Since dynamic compression increases blood flow to affected areas, it promotes tissue regeneration, which can speed up recovery for patients following a surgery. This type of therapy can also enhance the rehab efforts of patients striving to return to work after an injury. 

In addition to massage, exercises, muscle stim, and ultrasound, therapists now have another practical modality to serve patients in their practice. The NormaTec system enables practitioners to provide all of the benefits of those aforementioned adjunct therapies without adding a member to their staff.

How Does It Work?

NormaTec systems include a control unit and inflatable compression sleeves. Patients receive the treatment sitting or lying down with the compression sleeves attached to the affected limb or limbs. As the attachments fill with compressed air, they mold themselves to the user’s exact body shape.

Then, in a specific sequence, the system begins applying compression (the user selects the intensity level), starting at the foot, hand, or lower hip, and gradually progressing up the limb, pulsing, holding, and releasing. This wavelike sequence is similar to the kneading and stroking of hands-on massage therapy. The effect of this sequential limb massage pattern is to move fluid away and speed muscle recovery while also improving circulation.

NormaTec In the News 

Health and fitness professionals—among them NBA, NFL, and elite NCAA trainers—have attested to NormaTec’s effectiveness in keeping their athletes strong and helping them bounce back from injury.

“I use it on all my sports and athletic-oriented patients,” says Dr. Rob Silverman of White Plains, New York. “It’s fabulous for recovery and excellent for performance. Its sequential pulse technology squeezes out the exudates . . . allowing them to get dispersed and broken down.”

Additionally, NormaTec is being recognized for helping professional athletes kick-start their recovery. According to a PR Newswire press release from 2019, “NormaTec, the industry leader in compression recovery technology for athletes, today announced a four-year partnership with U.S. Ski & Snowboard, the national governing body of competitive skiing and snowboarding in the United States.1” Needless to say, we can expect to see NormaTec’s pneumatic compression technology continue to transform how both athletes and patients recover. 

The Bottom Line

NormaTec systems make muscle recovery faster and easier and provide multiple benefits. The massage-like function of this equipment can complement other modalities by providing a rigorous therapeutic treatment without the need for additional staff. Help your patients redefine their recovery with NormaTec. 

Create an account with MeyerPT today or contact your personal account manager at 1.866.528.2144 for more information. 


1NormaTec. “NormaTec and U.S. Ski & Snowboard Announce Four-Year Partnership to Support Athlete Recovery.” PR Newswire: Press Release Distribution, Targeting, Monitoring and Marketing, 13 Nov. 2019,–snowboard-announce-four-year-partnership-to-support-athlete-recovery-300957685.html.


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