Vital Force Physio


Compression Devices for Exercise Recovery

January 25, 2022

Intermittent Pneumatic Compression or (IPC) is the use of a commercially manufactured device to improve blood flow, lymphatic drainage and remove metabolic waste following exercise or sport competition (1). The proposed benefits are that of decreased muscle soreness, decreased limb swelling and improved muscle performance status post exertion, training or competition (3).

Normatec Legs

In recent years IPC has gained popularity in many athletic training facilities, physical therapy clinics and in the homes of active individuals. These devices require the individual to place an extremity into an inflated “sleeve.” The sleeve is inflated segmentally by a compressor unit to enhance fluid movement and promote drainage from the dependent limb. This is opposed to the classic “compression garment” which has consistent pressure throughout (1).

The theoretical model of IPC is that it acts just like your venous system (veins pump blood back to the heart) to flush out blood lactate and other metabolic by-products induced with intense exercise (2). If these products are diminished, in theory, the exercised muscles will be in an optimal environment for successive exercise and competition.

Compressor Unit

How to use:

IPC can be used prior to and after exercise or sport. It is recommended to use a lower pressure setting for “pre-workout” or “pre-competition” to increased blood flow and massage tissues. After a strenuous bout of activity the pressure setting can be increased to promote increased fluid dynamics, tissue massage and mitigate post-exercise swelling. (Please see manufacture guidelines or consult your health care practitioner for specific setting levels on devices).

Although IPC is not required to recover from exercise and athletic competition, it can be a convenient and comfortable way to decrease soreness and prep your muscle tissue for your next session.

At Vital Force Physio we utilize Hyperice Normatec Intermittent Pneumatic Compression to enhance muscle and tissue recovery for improved performance during physical therapy and training sessions. Contact us for more information on how to decrease pain and unleash your inner athlete!

Movement is Vital for a healthy body and Your Body is a Force to be reckoned with,

Dr. Bryan Vranic, PT, DPT, CSCS

This information is not intended to be used as medical advice but for educational purposes only. Please consult your Physical Therapist, Physician or Healthcare Provider for more information.


1. Cochrane DJ, Booker HR, Mundel T, Barnes MJ. Does intermittent pneumatic leg compression enhance muscle recovery after strenuous eccentric exercise? Int J Sports Med. 2013 Nov;34(11):969-74. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1337944. Epub 2013 Apr 19. PMID: 23606340.

2. Hanson, et al. An Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Device Reduces Blood Lactate Concentrations More Effectively Than Passive Recovery after Wingate Testing. Journal of Athletic Enhancement. 02. 10.4172/2324-9080.1000115.

3. Hoffman MD, Badowski N, Chin J, Stuempfle KJ. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Massage and Pneumatic Compression for Ultramarathon Recovery. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016 May;46(5):320-6. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2016.6455. Epub 2016 Mar 23. PMID: 27011305.

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