Ditch the Ice Bath: Hyperice Is Making Contrast Therapy Achievable Wherever You Are

Photo: Hyperice | Graphic: W+G Creative
Growing up as a multi-sport athlete (and even today), ice baths contrasted with heat therapy were critical to my recovery. I loved the heat portion because it was warm and cozy and relaxing, but I always dreaded going into the cold tub. So, when I got wind that Hyperice was adding the new Hyperice X contrast therapy device ($399) to its arsenal of recovery tools that are designed to keep athletes' bodies feeling their best, I knew I had to try it.

What is contrast therapy?

For those who have never had the experience of shivering in a cold tub only to be soothed by warmth for a couple of minutes...only to go right back into a freezing cold tub, you may be wondering what the purpose of contrast therapy is. Essentially, it's one of the many methods people use to recover from exercise-induced muscle damage and muscle soreness. It's also believed to improve blood flow, reduce muscle spasms and inflammation, and improve range of motion.

How the Hyperice X contrast therapy device works

If you're like me and live in an overpriced apartment that doesn't have a bathtub (that's New York City for you), you probably miss the little things like being able to take a relaxing bath and an occasional ice bath.

Fortunately, the new Hyperice X device makes contrast therapy a lot easier and a lot less miserable. You turn the device on, then slide it up your leg and adjust the straps so that it fits comfortably. Using the app, you set your contrast ratios, the temperature levels, how many cycles you want to do, hit 'Go,' and let it work its magic.

Each module (the knobs on the device) contains the technology to do cold/heat therapy inside the device, and it sustains the specific temperature during the duration of your treatment unlike using ice packs or a tub of water.

It truly feels like magic because there is no liquid or ice involved, yet it feels just as good—dare I say better—than contrasting in hot and cold tubs.

The pros and cons of the Hyperice X device

As much as I love fitness technology, I tend to be hypercritical about what products can offer, especially if I'm spending my hard-earned money on it.

The pros

I love that this device makes access to contrast therapy easier. It's mess-free, portable, and cordless, which is great for people on the go. I also like that you don't have to waste gallons of water whenever you want to reap the benefits of contrast therapy. The cold settings are great and don't leave your joints and muscles feeling numb and you shivering for hours after a session. The heat makes it feel like you're cozied up by a fire.

The cons

As stated previously, this device makes access to contrast therapy easier, but only for those who can afford it. At the moment, the Hyperice X device is only available to use on the knees, and if I'm going to spend $399, I want to be able to use it on more joints and muscles.

In my perfect world, Hyperice would create an iteration of the Normatec boot ($899) with contrast therapy capabilities. As someone whose legs take a beating whether it's from sprinting or strength training, this sounds like heaven. I know it's easier said than done, and I'm sure there are more thermal devices in the pipeline, but that's what'd I'd be willing to invest hundreds of dollars on.

Overall, I think this device is great, especially for those who do activities that take a load on their knees or those recovering from knee injuries. I wouldn't invest in this device at the moment because I don't have knee issues, but as soon as they make one for the legs and hips (fingers crossed), I'm in.

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