Updated: Jul 21, 2019
Rapid Reboot is a pneumatic compression device designed to increase blood flow and improve recovery time after a run, speed workout or frustratingly annoying injuries. The company sells a compressor with sleeves for legs, hips and arms.
Pneumatic compression is not necessarily a new treatment, but it has been much more popular among runners in recent years. In Average Joe terms, pneumatic compression simply means that it uses air compression. They remind me a lot of those electric blood pressure cuffs at drug stores that kids love to play with, except these feel more like a firm massage and you have control over the amount of pressure, cycles and time.
Rapid Reboot allowed me to product test both the first and second generations of their leg and hip sleeves. I started out with the first generation before and after I ran the Utah Valley Marathon in June.
For the last year, I had hamstring issues from overdoing it on some fast downhill runs in preparation for the Revel Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon. As I prepared for the Utah Valley Marathon, I felt my hamstrings starting to flare up again. Luckily, I received these boots a few weeks beforehand.
I immediately noticed that my hamstrings felt so much better from the boots than from foam rollers. I also noticed that when I used the boots after long runs and the marathon I was ready to roll the next day, when in the past it would take me a few days to truly loosen my legs up, especially after a race.
I recently received the second generation sleeves, which provide an improved shape to the contours of your body and a new material that incorporates a pattern that retain the pressure more efficiently, thus making the sleeves more effective at lower pressures.
At first I was skeptical about pneumatic compression sleeves. I see a lot of new running fads and gimmicks, but these seemed to hold more substance than a lot of things that I have seen on the market when they caught my attention last year. After only the few initial uses, I definitely felt the benefits.
HOW IT WORKS
There are two essential parts: the compressor and the sleeves. You simply connect the type of sleeves that you want to wear to the compressor and turn it on. The pneumatic compression sleeves fill with air and compress your legs, hips or arms in cycles to increase blood flow.
To use the compressor, there are five simple things to know: 1. the on button; 2. the time settings; 3. the pressure zones; 4. the cycles and ; 5. the start button.
The On Button
It’s simple. You press the little black button in the bottom left corner and everything will light up.
You have three choices of 10, 20 or 30 minutes. When the time is up you can keep extending it by simply pressing one of the time buttons. Easy.
From there, select a desired pressure zone. There are 10 pressure zones from 20 to 200 in increments of 10. You simply tap the plus (+) or minus (-) buttons to increase or decrease the pressure zones to what feels most comfortable. Most people say that after a few uses they find themselves increasing the level of pressure that they use. Those using the second generation sleeves may find that they do not need as high of pressure as they did with the first generation, due to the new material.
There are two cycles. I was not sure the difference between the two cycles as far as the different benefits and uses were concerned. So I emailed the rep and he said that cycle A is for warming up and Cycle B is for recovery. I found this to hold true in my preferences when I use Rapid Reboot.
Cycle A compresses the entire sleeve until it reaches the appropriate pressure zone and then immediately decompresses to repeat the cycle again until the time setting ends.
Cycle B fills four chambers in order. The leg sleeves start at the feet, then move to the calves, the knees and finally the quads and hamstrings. Each chamber remains at pressure until all four chambers are filled. It then decompresses and starts the cycle again until the time is up.
The Start Button
After you have all of the settings where you want them, simply tap the blue start button, it will turn green and then you are good to go!
In addition to the different sleeve types for the legs, hips and arms, they also come in a variety of sizes. Below, I detail the different sleeve types and the respective sizes.
Leg Sleeves (Boots)
The leg sleeves (or boots as they call them) have five sizes, starting at extra short and ascending to extra long. Even though I have a relatively short inseam (about 29 inches), I got a medium and they felt just fine. My wife, who has a taller inseam, was able to use them as well. The boots have two zippers, in case you happen to have wider or skinnier legs. They also have a Velcro strap that you connect at the top so they don’t keep falling off as you bend down to zip them up. Both boots are connected so that you only have to plug in one connection to the compressor.
The hip sleeves come in two sizes, Regular and Large. I looked at these bad boys with an odd expression, because they look like a giant diaper and that’s exactly how you feel wearing them, haha. Surprisingly, these were my favorite! Sure, they might feel a bit awkward, but they not only get the hips, they get the glutes and I felt like they got the top half of my hamstrings more effectively. Plus it was nice having two different areas of my hamstrings worked on.
One piece of advice: do not tighten the strap all the way. Otherwise, you will get squeezed to death when it fills up, haha. Keep them a bit loose, let it fill up once, and then as it deflates, tighten the straps to a comfortable position.
The second generation seemed to go higher up the back to get the lower lumbar, which I was really excited for. However, it did not actually reach my back when the material was completely filled, even with the upper strap tightened all the way. There was still a couple inch gap between my back and the sleeve. This is an easy fix though. Rapid Reboot simply needs to add a little more material to the back portion.
The arm sleeves come in two sizes, Regular and Long. They also are connected for one connection to the compressor. I did not have the opportunity to test these, but I am curious. If they get your shoulders and shoulder blades, I would use these a ton (I’m closing in on 40 and feeling it more these days, haha). If they don’t have sleeves that do the shoulders, I’ll take credit for the idea.
WHAT TO SIT IN?
At running stores and expos, people are always sitting in a folding recliner chair. However, I don’t own a recliner. I tried a few things, but the most effective alternative was the bed with a pillow under my knees. My couches were okay. One was too stiff and the other is so comfy that I sunk too deep into it. If I had a folding reclining pool/camping chair, I would have preferred that. I recommend that Rapid Reboot sale a light-weight chair separately and as part of a package set with the sleeves and compressor.
A package set with all three sleeves, the compressor, and a duffel bag is $1,495 for the second generation. They sell each sleeve type separately for $295. You can buy the first generation while supplies last for $236 each. The first generation boots with a compressor and bag is $895 and the second generation $995. Overall, I would by the second generation package for the best deal, if the first generation is out of stock. The cost is about the same for all of the products on Rapid Reboot's website as it is on Amazon. The first generation sleeves have limited quantities and sizes left on their website.
Great news though folks! I found out that pneumatic compression sleeves are considered medical devices. As such, that means that you can purchase these with a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flex Spending Account if you have a HSA or FSA for health insurance.
I enjoy running because it doesn’t cost much. Even though I need to buy new shoes every few months, I usually try to find clearance shoes that are the prior year’s model. I also love running local races because they are cheaper (and they are easier to place in…hahaha). In other words, I’m a cheapo.
I feel like pneumatic compression sleeves—of any brand—cost more than I would personally spend for running, but I know a lot of people who spend much more than this on running and would not blink at the prices. Although, since you can buy them with a HSA, I am much more inclined to spend the money to get them.
PRO & CONS
My legs and muscles love them
Three types of sleeves
Multiple sleeve sizes
Two cycle settings
The pressure is great
Great design, look and feel
Qualifies as a medical device for HSA & FSA health insurance plans
Cannot choose single zones to target specific muscles
Gap in the back of the hip sleeve
Needs to provide recommendations in the instructions on the different uses for the cycle settings and recommended pressure zones, depending on the use (i.e. daily use, warm up, recovery, injuries, etc.)
A bit expensive for me personally, but well worth it
Really need a reclining chair
Wish I could adjust the settings in the palm of my hand
WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY
ABOUT THE AVERAGE JOE RUNNER
Well, his real name is actually Dave...but "The Average Joe Runner" seemed like a catchy name for a blog. Born a sprinter, but converted to distance running in adulthood, Dave has run for more than 25 years. He is the father of four awesome kids and the husband to one amazingly talented, smart and fast-running wife.
The Average Joe Runner blog and website was born after Dave continued to get questions from friends and family alike for running tips and gear advice. However, this blog is also meant to hear from other Average Joe and Jane Runners out there. You can contribute to the blog by clicking