Cold Compression Is the Next Wave of Recovery Tech You’ll See Everywhere

Graphic: Well+Good Creative
Recovery is top of mind these days, and as a result, technology that was once reserved for top athletes is now becoming widely accessible to all. For example, gym-goers everywhere can easily reach for percussive therapy devices (like the Theragun or Hypervolt) or infrared wraps to soothe muscle soreness. And, the same is about to be true for cold compression, thanks to a new device called the Squid Go.

Both cold therapy and compression therapy have been tapped for decades to help soothe sore muscles. Science has shown that low temperatures can help relieve post-workout aches, while compression therapy  can help stimulate blood flow to the area to speed up recovery. The Squid Go combines the two for a single 15-minute sesh that's like cryotherapy meets NormaTec.

Developed by a Harvard-MIT trained bioengineer, the Squid Go compression tool is meant to bring users targeted, quick relief for muscles soreness. There are different "systems" depending on which body part you're targeting that are fit for that anatomy. The one-two punch of cold compression purportedly promotes "circulatory changes that direct fluid from swelling away from the area, and nutrient-rich, fresh blood back into the treatment area," says co-creator Shai Schubert, PhD, a bioengineer.

The inflammation and swelling that happens after working out is your body's response to help itself heal. According to Dr. Schubert, everything in your body is "hot" after activity, which is why using cold tech can help. "Reducing the temperature of the tissue allows you to bring your muscles and joints back to the baseline," he says. Unlike other options (think: foam rolling and stretching), Dr. Schubert explains that cold therapy and compression together are more effective at specifically reducing inflammation, pain, and swelling.

When I try Squid Go for myself (opting for the leg/knee system), it's not nearly as easy to use as other recovery devices. It takes some work to put together, but once it's on, it feels like my knee is getting an ice-cold hug. While 15 minutes doesn't sound long in conversation, in practice, it felt like an eternity.  The intermittent compression felt just like those blood pressure cuffs at the drugstore, which I welcomed for my tight, achey muscles. However, the cold was hard to deal with and by 10 minutes in, I was ready for the recovery sesh to wrap. When I took the device off, I will say that the muscle tightness had dissolved. The next day, I was back on my feet and ready to hit the gym.

Was it better than an ice bath or a date with my compression socks? Given that it combined the two (and didn't require me to fill my tub with arctic-temp water), I'd say yes. But, if you're a MacGyver of sorts, you could easily rig similar results on your own.

Watch the video below to learn more about another recovery device... the Theragun: 

Also important for your recovery is getting quality slow-wave sleep (not just REM). And here's how to choose a foam roller based on what kind of soreness you're dealing with. 

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