It's a tale as old as time — you train hard, you eat a well-balanced diet, and you go to bed at a reasonable time, but when it comes to foam rolling, you run a mile. If you're looking for an alternative way to help your muscles recover, you might be in the market for a massage gun. You know, one of those things that looks like a cordless drill with a tennis ball on the end that all the athletes seem to be using on Instagram? That said, the best massage guns on the market are actually far more technical than that. These handheld massagers are used to help reduce muscle soreness and muscle tension through quick pulses of pressure that promote blood flow.
When using a massage gun, the motorized percussion penetrates into deep muscle tissue so muscles relax after 30 seconds or so of use—often without you having to apply much pressure to the skin. Since many of these best massage guns are hand-held with several attachments, you can give yourself a massage on hard-to-reach areas without having to visit a massage parlor or ask a partner to give you a massage.
If you’ve ever been to physical therapy or had a masseuse or sports trainer work on your muscles, you may have received this form of massage therapy in a clinical setting. Now you can enjoy the muscle recovery benefits of massage guns from the comfort of home, any time you want since more companies are making them accessible for everyday pain relief.
What are the best massage guns right now?
The Theragun Elite Massage Gun is the best massage gun on the market right now. Customers like its ergonomic design so they can target hard-to-reach areas like the low back. The current model is one of the best massage guns because it’s quieter than previous versions and is the best massage gun for the average exerciser who wants muscle pain relief.
The Hyperice Hypervolt Plus has a good battery life, is good for athletes—particularly runners—and their Pressure Sensor Technology pairs with their app and Bluetooth so you know how much pressure you’re applying to a specific area.
The Theragun Mini is also a brilliant massage gun for athletes who want a portable massage gun they can take in their bag with them to the gym, or on a plane. It's small and compact, but still powerful enough to give you a decent massage.
The best massage guns you can buy today
The Theragun Elite may be costly, but it’s a worthwhile investment that can help anyone to move — and feel — better. The Theragun Elite is a Porsche among massage guns, with a price that’s topped only by another Theragun model (the Theragun Pro). One thing we loved about the Elite is that it can be held in various ways, allowing users to apply pressure more efficiently and comfortably. Our tester found this multi-grip design especially helpful when targeting hard-to-reach spots, like the lower back and hamstrings.
The Elite, its five attachments, and a power adapter come boxed inside of a hard shell carrying case with various storage compartments. It’s bulky and would take up a considerable amount of room in your gym bag or suitcase. That being said, if we're paying almost $400 for a massage gun, we'd prefer to have a case that’s bulky and protective over one that’s flimsy and compact. If you’re looking for a massage gun with better portability, take a look at the Theragun Mini.
The battery life is also pretty impressive on the Elite — one full charge of the battery can get you up to two hours of operation. We also found it doesn't take the Elite long to fully charge, making it a handy option for anyone using the massage gun as a regular part of their recovery routine.
You might think a hefty price tag would indicate that the Theragun Elite should be reserved for those ready to run their fifth triathlon, but we would argue the opposite. Because of the Therabody App, which provides step-by-step guidance and personalized programming, the Elite is an excellent choice for someone who hasn’t thought about their muscles since high school anatomy class.
Read our full Theragun Elite review here.
The Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro is a well-made massage gun, especially suited for athletes and advanced users. The basic yet solid construction of the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro makes it a good choice for nearly anyone looking to invest in a high-end massage gun. However, a few key factors gear the Pro towards a more experienced user.
The Hypervolt 2 Pro has an exceptional battery life — at three hours, it outlasts the Theragun Elite and the Theragun Mini by 60 and 30 minutes respectively. The Theragun Pro doubles the Hypervolt 2 Pro’s run time with a six-hour life, but you’ll pay $200 more for that extra three hours. Charging the Pro once got me through an entire week’s worth of testing, with plenty of battery left to spare.
The Hyperice App is capable of leading accomplished athletes through comprehensive programing for a competitive edge. A variety of textured attachments combined with a speedy 2700 PPM effectively releases the tightest trigger points and muscle groups.
The downsides here are that the gun is slightly awkward to hold, and doesn't come with a carry case, which could be an issue if you plan on traveling with the gun. Since it’s pretty sturdy, you could most likely get away with cushioning it between some thick sweatshirts and tossing it in your bag. But on the other hand, if I’m going to pay a few hundred bucks for a massage gun, I’d like to know that it could be protected appropriately during transport.
Read our full Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro review.
Reviewers say this percussion massager is good for athletes, people who need fast recovery and pain relief, as well as deep-tissue relief. We like that it’s lightweight and the 90-degree angled head makes it easy to access those hard-to-reach areas. It’s a high-quality, high-pressure massage gun that doesn’t cost as much as some of the other percussion massagers in this guide. One reviewer said, “Worth the money. I use mine regularly for knots, tight spots or just to get the blood flowing in an area of my body.”
Although the battery life is twice as long as its original version that debuted in 2016, it only lasts up to 45 minutes, one of the shortest durations on this list. That being said, it has a swappable battery pack and you can buy extra rechargeable batteries to take with you when you’re on the go. The noise level is one of the quietest massage guns on the market right now, almost as quiet as whispering with a friend.
The Theragun Pro is recommended for the more serious athlete, someone who might normally receive professional massage therapy regularly as part of their fitness program and who wants to use a professional-grade recovery gun at home. Theragun says this is a smart percussive therapy device that’s in a league of its own. According to its site, the Pro reaches 60 percent deeper into muscles than other massage guns.
Four arm positions make it easy to access every square inch that aches and five built-in speeds allow you to apply lower pressure to sensitive areas or more intense pressure to particularly tight muscles. “The Theragun Pro is the perfect massage gun for sports people and professional therapists alike,” said one reviewer on BestBuy.com. The Pro has an ergonomic design and an intuitive interface that’s easy to use. This device is one of the best massage guns because it’s built with Active Torque Control that combes power with speed for effective treatment therapy. Some reviewers said this model was still loud and complained about the cost.
The Theragun Mini takes all the benefits of percussive massage and wraps everything in a very small and light package. Shaped like a thick and oversized guitar pick, the Mini fits comfortably into your palm and allows you to apply adequate pressure to the muscle groups you’re targeting. The Mini has three speeds: 1750, 2100, and 2400 PPM (percussions per minute). Adjusting the speed is done through a sole button on the side of the device, with three lights indicating the current PPM.
One of the downsides with the Mini is that it only comes with one ball attachment, however, all things considered though, the standard ball is a good catch-all attachment that can be used effectively on most parts of the body. The Mini is also compatible with all of Theragun’s 4th generation attachments, so if you own another current Theragun model, you could always pop any of their attachments onto your Mini. If you don’t, attachments can be purchased separately.
Where the Mini really excels is in its portability — it can easily fit in most purses, backpacks, and gym bags, and makes taking the massage gun with you to the gym, or to your next overseas marathon a joy.
Read our full Theragun Mini review here.
The Sonic Handheld Percussion Massager is well-reviewed on several sites for being a good percussion massager for the price. This massage gun comes with eight massage heads and you can change up the intensity with five levels. Sonic also offers free access to its online video library.
Some customers said they had issues with charging the unit and batteries dying but said when they reported the issue to LifePro’s customer service they received replacement parts or units quickly. One reviewer said, “The 5 different settings and 5 different interchangeable heads make it extremely customizable for different parts of the body and needs. [My husband and I] have found it makes a difference with post recovery. It is easy to use and assemble.”
The Legiral is one of the top-reviewed massage guns on Amazon where it has more than 25,000 reviews. The Legiral has 20 speeds and five interchangeable heads so you can target every inch of your body that ails you. Many of the reviewers who gave this product five stars on Amazon were weightlifters and said they loved its impact on their sore muscles.
The Legiral is said to have an entry-level force but after you go above speed level 12, you’ll really feel the massage gun working on your muscles. But, it’s not the optimal percussion massager for serious athletes who need a higher-intensity massage. Some of the cons are that the noise increases over time and that the device isn’t very easy to hold for a long period of time, due to its weight. Customers appreciate the lifetime warranty in case anything goes wrong with the product.
This Mighty Bliss percussion massager has one of the most powerful percussion motors on our guide at 3,700 RPM. While calling it a ‘massage gun’ might be a stretch, this hand-held massager has a long, slim design that makes it easy to use and reach back muscles in particular. It’s a heavier percussion massager than others on our list and it has a built-in battery that runs for about two hours after charging it for an hour.
Many customers on Amazon say it’s good for a beginner handheld massager, helps relieve muscle cramps quickly, and they thought the charge held for a long time. Some of the complaints are that it “didn’t really feel like a heavy-hitting massager” and the highest pressure wasn’t intense enough for some customers. One reviewer experienced the rubber attachments breaking off when too much pressure was applied. Others complained that the device felt heavy after using it for a minute or so.
Heat and massage work together to help soothe sore muscles so it only seems natural that a massage gun designed to alleviate muscle pain relief would have a heating component. The Fusion FX heads heat up in about 20 to 30 seconds which helps to increase blood flow. This handheld massage gun has five heads and five speeds so you can experience a variety of massage pressure on different points on the body.
The Fusion FX also has a lifetime warranty from LifePro Fitness so if you’re not happy, you can return it or get a replacement part. Some customers wished the heads would stay heated for longer, noticing they only got about 5 to 7 minutes of heat while using the device. A few negative reviews were about the heads not heating up properly or at all but in most cases it seemed that customer service was helpful and offered a replacement part. With an amplitude of 10mm it’s a lower intensity massage gun on this list.
The Sportneer Deep Tissue massage made this list for its reasonable price, number of attachments, comes with a carrying case, quiet level, and being an overall good product for the price. This device is also as lightweight as some “portable” versions, so it’s easy to take outside the home. The Sportneer Deep Tissue Muscle Percussion Massager is a hit among athletes for reducing muscle pain. It comes with six massage heads, five speed levels and has a 11mm stroke amplitude.
Reviewers like the price of this massage gun, the variety of attachments, and noise level. Since this massage gun lasts up to six hours on one charge, it nabbed our top spot for the best battery life for the value. One reviewer said, ‘I’m an avid runner and this does wonders for my fascia and eliminating any deep knots I have.” Even though it goes up to 3,200 PPMs, the amplitude is just 11mm, so the pressure might not be intense and deep enough for some customers. Other reviewers found it challenging to target the entire neck and back area.
What to look for when buying a massage gun
Some factors you want to think about when buying the best massage guns include what you’re using it for—a sports massage that gets deep down into tight muscles, or for relieving average aches and pains from being a desk jockey all day.
You’ll also want to consider how heavy the device is. Although most devices weigh less than 5 pounds, the difference between a lighter massage gun and a heavier one can mean your arm gets tired faster, especially if you’re holding the device in a hard-to-reach location, like your neck, shoulders and back.
The best massage guns should have a battery life that lasts longer than an hour, usually up to two hours. You won’t be using vibration therapy for an hour on your body at a time, but not needing to charge the device every time will make life easier. When you’re thinking about buying a massage gun, see if backup batteries are included or are available. If you’re traveling, it might be worth it to have two charged batteries so you don’t have to deal with one leg that’s been worked on and the other leg hasn’t been massaged.
Massage gun customers should also look at the device’s amplitude. This is the distance the head will travel and how deep the gun hits the muscle. A massage gun with a higher amplitude can feel more intense even at a lower speed than a vibration-type massage gun. The massage guns that have higher amplitude should be able to target a specific area deep into the muscle to help reduce muscle pain and improve blood circulation.
The frequency or speed of a massage gun is usually measured in percussions per minute (PPM) or strokes per minute and tends to be available in the 1,200 to 3,200-PPM range. A higher frequency will deliver a more intense massage. If you want a massage gun that only delivers a surface-level massage instead of a deep, sports-style massage, you would use a lower-power setting on the device.
If you live in a flat share or in a house with small children, you might want to consider how noisy the massage gun is. Some of them are pretty noisy, which won’t be ideal if you’re using the massage gun in the evenings as part of your recovery routine.
When some consumers are looking at the best massage guns, having a variety of attachments or heads will be important to them. Most devices average about five attachment head options, usually a cushioned head, rounded, fork, and flat options, as well as some cone-shaped (bullet) attachments that target a specific area.
How to use a massage gun
For Theragun users, the massage gun is compatible with the Therabody app, which has a number of different suggested routines aimed at problem areas you might want to focus on, like your lower back, or based on your sport, such as cycling or running. It's free to use and worth downloading to make sure you're not focusing on one area for too long.
If you've not decided on a Theragun, there are some general rules that apply when using all massage guns at home. Firstly, little is more when it comes to using a massage gun. Experts agree that one to two minutes on a large muscle group is more than enough and you'll probably want to use a lower frequency setting unless you've built a lot of muscle (weightlifters, we're looking at you).
Secondly, no matter how exciting your new massage gun might be, you shouldn't be using it every day. Sports physiotherapists recommend using percussive therapy alongside your other recovery tools, such as foam rolling, or Epsom salt baths. Every few days is enough if you want your massage gun to still be effective.
Finally, be careful about using your massage gun on pulled or injured muscles, as it can make things worse. If you've run a half marathon and you're not sure whether your calf is pulled or just tight, it's a good idea to wait 48 hours and hit it with the RICE technique (rest, ice, compression, elevation) before reaching for your massage gun. You should also avoid using a massage gun on sprains or inflammation injuries, such as tendinitis and fascitis and it goes without saying, never use a massage gun on broken bones. Massage guns are powerful tools, so if in doubt, check with an expert before using one if things don't feel right.
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