New Year. New Product. New You. Alison Freeman reviews Footbeat

By Alison Freeman

We’ve all been there: It’s Friday, you’ve just finished a tough bike ride, your legs feel like lead, and your coach / training plan has two more daunting workouts on your calendar before you get a recovery day. My prior solution to this problem was to stare longingly at TrainingPeaks, in hopes that if I blinked my eyes quickly enough the recovery day would magically move up and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Shockingly, despite dozens of attempts, it has never worked.

This is exactly the situation I found myself in when my favorite person ever – the UPS delivery lady – rang my doorbell to deliver my Footbeats. I had high hopes that some quality Footbeat time would help me survive until the long-awaited recovery day, and I’m happy to say that Footbeat did not disappoint.

WHAT IS IT?

Footbeat is a pair of moccasins that house insoles that house a little engine-driven bubble, which compresses your arch which then increases circulation and therefore removes metabolic waste – including lactate, which is also known as: the reason your legs feel like crap. Tiny little engine, big freakin’ deal.

Another way to think about Footbeat is that they’ve taken the recovery benefits associated with sequential compression devices (a.k.a., recovery boots) and stuffed those benefits into a smaller, more portable product. Cool, right?

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

If you’re like me – getting older but convinced you can get faster and beat the pants off your younger self – then you know how important recovery is to your training. Recovery is what allows you to execute your workouts day in and day out and to handle continued increases in weekly training volume and intensity.

As far as recovery products go, Footbeat is your best bet for a cost effective, easy to use, portable recovery solution. You can pop ‘em on for 30 minutes pre-workout, while you drink coffee and catch up on email. And then you can pop ‘em on for 30-60 minutes post-workout, while you download and review your workout details, drink a recovery shake, and answer some more emails. Even more exciting, you can pop ‘em on as soon as you board your flight for your “A” race, wear them the entire time (depending on how long the flight is), and minimize the fatiguing impact of air travel on your legs.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Let me tackle this question in three different ways …

First Question: How does the concept work? As in, how does a little engine-driven bubble in a moccasin promote recovery?

Start with the idea that your circulatory system drives your ability to rebound from tough training days because it delivers products to your muscles that promote repair and recovery. So: increase circulation, speed up recovery.

The question then is, how do you increase circulation? One option is walking – apparently there’s a pump in your foot that stimulates circulation in your legs as you walk. OR you can replicate this exact same foot pump and the corresponding circulatory increase by sitting around and wearing your Footbeats. Hence: sit around and eat bon bons (or maybe a kale salad), speed up recovery.

So, yeah, that’s how the concept works.

Second Question: How does the product work? As in, what buttons do you push to make it go?

It’s actually super simple. You pull out the insoles to charge them using the provided charging cord – a full charge takes about an hour, and you can just leave the insoles on the charger any time you’re not wearing them so they’re always ready to go. When you’re ready for a little Footbeat pre-workout warm up or post-workout recovery, slide the insoles into the moc’s, open up the Footbeat app, (yup, there’s an app for that), and hit “Start.” (You do need to pair the app to your Footbeat before your first use, but that’s just a matter of hitting “Pair” and waiting a few seconds.)

Once you’re going, the bubbles in your arches will inflate every 20 seconds, and all you gotta do is let it happen. They work best when seated, as there’s a little counter-pressure from the floor that helps really stimulate your foot pump. You can get up and walk around if you want to refill your water bottle or grab a snack, and your insoles will note the change in pressure and (usually) stop inflating until you sit back down. (I have noticed that sometimes one foot or the other will think I’m standing when I’m not, and removing all pressure from the bottom of that foot will get it going again.) I’ve even worn my Footbeat while driving to/from workouts, although I’m not sure if that’s totally above board or not.

So, yeah, that’s how the product works.

Final Question: How *well* does the product work?

Often assessing the benefits of a recovery product are tricky, especially if you don’t have sophisticated lab equipment or – even better – a time machine, so you can test your recovery from a given workout both with and without using the product. Footbeat actually has a pretty nifty protocol for testing their product, which both my uber-skeptical husband and I tried out during a 4-hour flight a few days after getting our Footbeats. We each put on only one Footbeat for 30 minutes, then got up and walked around. I’ll be darned if the Footbeat leg didn’t feel noticeably different for both of us – lighter and lacking the obvious fatigue in the non-Footbeat leg.

So, yeah, I’m going to say the product works pretty well.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

You can set yourself up with a pair of Footbeat direct from the company. They offer a 30-day risk-free purchase option, so what’s stopping you?

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