To reduce knee pain and soothe my sore joints, I got to work testing the highly regarded Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager, a promising new knee massage therapy from the recovery tech giants.
We’ve tried and tested some of the best massage guns on the market but although this model doesn’t technically fit within the massage gun bracket, it’s a pocket rocket knee massager regardless.
Percussive therapy (massage guns) has surged in popularity over recent years, giving anyone from pro athletes to casual gym-goers a chance to drill down on recovery without the unsavory massage therapist fees. The Cleveland Clinic even found that massage guns could improve muscle recovery, reduce fatigue and increase the range of motion and blood flow in the targeted area.
With that in mind, I tested the Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager every day for one month to see whether it really could improve my knee pain.
What is the Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager?
Traditional handheld massage guns use strong vibration and pressure to treat sore and tired muscles. They look similar to DIY home drills but act as a do-it-yourself home massage solution instead. The downside? The sheer power makes them unsuitable for your joints.
The Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager works safely on your knees without the power or penetration of a standard massage gun. Instead, it wraps snugly around your knee like a support brace and uses soothing heat and gentle vibrating pulses to target and relieve knee pain.
As a keen CrossFitter (find out what happened when I trained like a CrossFit athlete), I am no stranger to tired knees and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the HeatPulse for some much-needed R&R.
I wore the Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager every day for a month — here’s what happened to my knee
I decided to treat my knee with a daily massage in a bid to reduce my knee pain. Here’s what happened.
1. It was deeply relaxing
I wore the Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager every day for a month, once or twice a day, for 30 minutes each session. The first thing I noticed was just how much heat it packs, spanning an impressive 40-60°C (104-140°F) using five settings. I kept mine on the top heat and my knee even kicked up a bit of a sweat, but sweaty knees aside, it was also deeply relaxing.
The vibration was more powerful than I anticipated, which might take a few goes to get used to, but there are three speeds ranging between 80-100Hz, so this is customizable to your preference. Once I had settled into it, I really enjoyed being able to strap this on wherever, whenever, for a quick on-the-go massage.
In fact, it’s so quiet that I found myself wearing it on my morning dog walks and into the office without infuriating anyone in my immediate vicinity
2. It’s not just a knee massager
Despite its name, the HeatPulse knee massager is also suitable for your elbows and shoulders. It’s a one-stop shop for all things dodgy joints — and considering I’m contending with a long-term rotator cuff injury, this was heavenly music to my ears.
The kit comes with a customizable sleeve and extension strap, allowing you to wrap the massager around your shoulder or elbow without any fuss. I found it didn’t quite fit my elbows, but I’ll certainly be testing it out on my shoulders more often and it’s great news if you’re currently budgeting.
3. I only noticed short-term knee pain relief
This knee massager has attracted a ton of attention and praise from chiropractors and physiotherapists, so I decided to do some digging around the technology.
The HeatPulse uses infrared graphene technology called HeatLast to provide steady warmth to soothe knee pain. When combined with dual vibrating cores, the massager ‘hugs’ the sides of your knees and delivers targeted pulses to your patella.
The idea is that this stimulates blood circulation, improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to the damaged area, and relieves tightness, pain and soreness. Some research shows that infrared radiation could improve knee pain and symptoms of osteoarthritis, and people with arthritis have reported accelerated recovery, pain relief and easing of joint tension using the garment.
However, I’ve so far only noticed temporary relief. Yes, it is relaxing, and my knee feels a bit freer straight after, but I haven’t noticed any significant change. Maybe I need to use it for longer periods, but my dreams of a fully restored knee are currently just that, unfortunately.
4. The science isn’t there yet
There is still a lack of robust evidence to support massage gun therapy in general and many of the existing studies are small-scale.
Research in favor includes a study on massage therapy and DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), which found considerable improvements after 24, 48 and 72 hours when using massage therapy. And another study published by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that just five minutes of targeted percussive therapy could improve range of motion and flexibility.
I found my knee massager was the most helpful when applied straight after a workout, but I didn’t notice any drastic improvement in my range of motion after 30-minutes of using it. What’s more, another study into the effectiveness and safety of massage for knee osteoarthritis found that while massage therapy offers a high-safety, low-cost solution, the existing research lacks any comprehensive evaluation.
I wore the Hydragun HeatPulse knee massager every day for a month — my verdict
While the jury is still out on the long-term effectiveness of home massage devices, I love using mine as a relaxing post-workout tool rather than hinging my hopes on a standalone fix for knee pain. But I would still recommend anyone suffering from chronic knee pain visit a qualified medical professional first and manage expectations around any miraculous results.
Should you buy a massage gun during Black Friday?
We’re rounding up the best Black Friday deals via our hubs and update these daily to give you the best discounts across fitness, tech and more. Currently, we’re seeing prices slashed across a wide range of massage gun models like Theragun and Hyperice, with more deals expected over the Black Friday weekend.
But should you buy a Hydragun? The recovery tech brand has plugged Black Friday discounts across various products, including the HeatPulse knee massager. So, if your New Year resolves to prioritize your recovery, you don’t need to wait.
Next up: Discover what happened when I used my Oura ring to manage stress.
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods. When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.