Besides working out, rest days and post-workout recovery are an important aspect of having a healthy fitness routine. Your body needs time off to heal itself and to build the muscle you’ve earned from your workouts. Though a big part of recovery involves resting, eating well and getting plenty of sleep, there are some things you can do to help speed up your recovery. Using a massage gun as part of your cooldown or even as part of the warm-up can relieve sore muscles or prep them before a workout. Massage guns are considered percussive therapy, a form of soft tissue massage that uses vibrations to relieve muscle tension. Percussive therapy is useful to relieve aches, sore muscles, knots, tension and other pains.
I personally enjoy using a massage gun for maintenance in between my workouts, prior to or after a run, or when I wake up with sore muscles. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits, either. I have family members who’ve had hip and back surgery who find relief using a massage gun on those days when they’re experiencing aches and pains.
Since there are so many massage guns on the market, we took it upon ourselves to test various brands over a span of a month. During testing, we looked at the quality of the massage gun, its different features, the amplitude, noise levels, variability of settings and more. Use this guide to help you find the best massage gun to fit your lifestyle, budget and needs.
What is the best massage gun overall?
We found the Theragun Elite was the best overall because it’s both powerful and easy to use. It’s the ideal massage gun, whether you’re new to the gadgets or have experience with them. The buttons on the Elite, and its design, make it easy to operate, with the speed setting and battery life clearly visible. Therabody is known for its popular massage guns, and I tested all its various styles, plus other brands, and narrowed it down to the best ones from there. Even though the others had their own special qualities, the Theragun Elite came out on top as the best overall massage gun.
Best massage guns
Other massage guns we tested
- Hypervolt 2 Pro … The Hypervolt 2’s successor was louder and heavier than I would’ve liked, but it has five speeds and is a good option if you find the speeds on the Hypervolt 2 aren’t enough.
- Hypervolt Go 2 … Hypervolt’s travel-size massage gun fell short when it came to power. It also didn’t come with a travel case. It’s a good option if you prefer something quieter than the Theragun Mini.
- Theragun Prime … This Theragun version seems too expensive for its simplicity. However, if you’re loyal to Theragun and prefer a simple massage gun, the Prime is your best bet.
- Theragun Pro (4th gen) … This version didn’t make the list because the fifth generation stepped things up a notch, and it’s quieter. If you don’t care for the new updates, you can get the fourth generation for $100 cheaper right now.
- Theragun Mini (1st gen)… Compared to the new Theragun Mini, the original is heavier, bigger and louder. But it is still a good option if you’re looking for a small massage gun you can use on the go. It’s also $20 cheaper than the new version.
- Vybe Flex Percussion Massage Gun … This massage gun had attachments that felt like cheap plastic, and it wasn’t as powerful as others on this list. It’s inexpensive, though, so it can be an alternative if you’re not looking to spend a lot.
- Vybe Pro Percussion Massage Gun … Compared to the other massage guns on this list, the design for the Vybe Pro looks less sophisticated and the buttons feel easy to break. I also found the arm too long, which adds to the weight of the massage gun.
- Lifepro DynaMini Massage Gun … This mini lacked power unless you cranked it up to the last two settings. It would have also benefited from a non-slip rubber coating on the handle because the whole massage gun is made up of a heavy metal.
- Renpho Mini Massage Gun … This pocket-sized massage gun is an affordable option if you aren’t looking for a fancy design. But it’s made up of all plastic and makes me question its durability if it were to fall.
How we test massage guns
Design: Although massage guns have a standard shape, we looked at the designs and materials that make up each massage gun. Even if they look similarly, the knobs, buttons and screens can vary per product.
Amplitude: The amplitude or the depth of the massage is the key to owning a solid massage gun. The higher the amplitude, the deeper the massage gun can target your muscles. We looked at the amplitude and observed how the massage gun felt in use.
Noise: Massage guns are known for their loud vibrations, therefore we observed the level of noise generated by each massage gun. Although you can’t entirely eliminate the noise created by the massage gun, we took into account the size and decibels.
Features: We looked at any unique features the massage guns offered such as apps, screen display, attachments available, carrying cases and more.
Factors to consider when buying a massage gun
- Think about how much you’re willing to invest in a massage gun because a good one can cost anywhere from $100 to $600.
- Determine if you’re looking for a heavy-duty version or if you’d be happy with a less intense massage gun.
- Some massage guns offer either vibration or percussion therapy. Put simply: Vibration therapy sends vibrations and constantly touches the surface of the skin, whereas percussive therapy uses pressure to get deeper into the muscle and glides on and off of the skin. The latter tends to be the preferred option of many.
- Ask yourself how often you’ll be using the massage gun. If it’s frequently, then you’ll want to consider a massage gun with a decent battery life.
- Determine if you’re planning on taking it while traveling or on the go. There are smaller massage guns on the market that are suitable for these purposes.
Massage gun FAQ
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