You've probably seen a massage gun at your local physical therapist or gym. But what are they and how do you put them to work? Most importantly - which ones out there are the best bang for their buck? Let's find out.
What are massage guns?
Massage guns are used to treat muscle pain and soreness, while also aiding and improving recovery from exercise. They simulate the effects of a deep-tissue massage by releasing toxins and increasing blood flow and come with a surprising number of benefits.
While going for a deep tissue massage every day is outside the scope of most people's budget and schedule (sadly), you can get many similar benefits by treating muscle pain yourself, using a massage gun is perhaps the best way to do this.
How do massage guns work?
At their core, massage guns help you perform a form of soft tissue therapy on yourself, using what is known as percussive or vibration therapy. The head of the massage gun strikes a muscle area repeatedly at high speed creating quick burst of pressure on the muscle.
For the more scientifically minded, this process is called myofasical release, and while not as effective, similar results can be achieved with the correct use of a foam roller or through specific stretching routines.
The benefits of myofascial release are huge! Not only does it feel great, but also it helps loosen knots and tension points deep inside your muscles.
If you've ever massaged someone else, you know what it means to feel the 'knots' at points of tension and slowly push these out. Massage guns work in a similar way to blast these away, and the best part of it is - you can use it on yourself.
So, if you're interested, which massage gun is right for you?
The Top 6 Recommended Massage Guns
The quick hits and our favorite picks (if you're short on time)
- Best Overall: Theragun Prime
- Quietest Massage Gun: TimTam
- Best Travel Massage Gun: Theragun Mini
- Best High End Massage Gun: Theragun Pro
- Best Budget Pick: Opove Apex
- Best Massage Guns for Athlete: Hypervolt 2
The Best Overall Massage Gun: Theragun Prime
Battery Life: 2 hours
Speeds: 5 speeds + customizable
Therabody is the original market leader in massage guns. The company was created after the founder: Dr Jason Wersland was injured in a motorbike crash. After suffering considerable pain, he invented the Theragun and has since helped thousands of people worldwide recover from injuries, improve rehab results and feel better.
The Theragun prime is a simple low-noise massage gun which packs a real punch and has 120 minutes of battery life.
Theragun products are excellent, but traditionally pricey and high-noise, which isn't ideal; especially for treating muscles in the neck and shoulders (just too near your ears to be relaxing). That said - the prices have come down with competition in recent years and if you're looking for a solid pick - they lead the pack.
The Theragun prime massage gun is a simplified product, taking the power of previous Theragun models but bringing down the noise and price - for most this is simply just the best massage gun out there.
The Quietest Massage Gun: TinTam Power Massager Pro
Battery Life: 1 hour
Speeds: 3 speeds
If you particularly want to focus on problem areas in the neck, shoulders and upper body areas; or, if you're particularly sensitive to noise - the Power Massager Pro may be the best choice for you.
At only 10-20db of noise (depending on the setting used) it's significantly quieter than any of its competitors.
While we like TimTam and they have been around for a while (and are very reliable), given the recent competition in this space - we're a little disappointed they don't innovate more (either on features, speeds, form factors or design). That said, maybe it's best sometimes not to mess with the original - it's a great gun after all.
It may not be as powerful as the Theragun Prime or PRO, but it's far quieter.
The Best Massage Gun for Travel Convenience: Theragun Mini
Battery Life: 2.5 hours
Speeds: 3 speeds
Pretty much unlike anything else on the market at the moment, the Theragun Mini is a super-portable massage gun which can easily go anywhere with you. We particularly like this one if you have a hectic life, travel a lot or are always on the go.
This little guy might be small, but he packs a punch with 150 minute battery life with three speed settings.
For those who travel regularly, having an ultra-portable massage gun which isn't going to take up much space is going to be the only way to consistently get benefits out of percussive therapy. In that case, the Theragun Mini is the one for you.
Best Massage Gun For High-End Users: Theragun Pro
Battery Life: 5 hours
Speeds: 5 speeds + customization
We've mentioned Theragun a couple times, but if you're ready to spend some cash - take a look at the Theragun Prime.
Without a doubt, the Theragun Prime is the most powerful massage gun out on the market today.
With 300 minutes of battery life, completely customizable speed settings and a power level which drowns anything else out there, this is the choice for those who don't want to skimp on features.
You'll find the Theragun Pro being used by personal trainers, professional athletes and of course individuals who don't want to compromise on features.
The Best Budget Pick Massage Gun: Opove Apex - $159
Battery Life: 3.5 hours
Speeds: 3 speeds
The Optove Apex is a good all round massage gun at a low price point for its feature set.
With a low noise level, high speed settings and a durable build - it's waterproof and has good reviews for durability - the M3 Pro is definitely a good all around choice for those without the budget for the Theragun Prime.
While it doesn't have the brand recognition of the other options on this list - it will get the job done without making you go broke - and that's something we can get behind.
The Best Massage Gun for Athletes: Hyperice Hypervolt Pro 2
Battery Life: 3 hours
Speeds: 5 speeds
Hyperice is one of the major players in the mobility and recovery space. You see there stuff on the sidelines of your favorite NFL or NBA teams. It's packaged slick and well branded - but just about as good as everything else on the list.
That said - if you want to look like your favorite athlete - and looking cool is always important - then the Hypervolt might be up your alley.
The Last Word on Massage Guns
Massage guns are a good mobility tool option for trouble spot's and especially helpful when you're on the go and don't have time to lay down and do a ton of stretches on your own.
If you're going to pick one up, follow our guide and you'll be in a good spot. Your muscles will thank you.
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