PPM: 1,750 to 2,400
Rated Noise level: 65 decibels
Battery life: 2 hours
Weight: 2.9 pounds
Among massage guns, the Therabody Theragun Prime has received a lot of buzz thanks to Instagram influencers, online ads, and elsewhere. But does this pricey percussion massager live up to the hype?
The Theragun Prime is said to be 70 percent quieter than previous versions and has five built-in speed ranges starting from 1,750 percussions per minute (PPM) up to 2,400 PPM. The “percussion” part of the device makes the head “punch” the skin so it feels more intense and it’s said to hit muscles deeper than a vibration massage therapy device which doesn’t have that “drilling” effect with the massage head. The company says it reaches 60 percent deeper into the muscle than an average massager.
As our Therabody Theragun Prime review will show, this isn’t a budget massage gun by any means, but its high-speed motor and technology could be useful for athletes looking to activate muscles as a warm-up or to help with recovery efforts.
Theragun Prime review: Price and availability
The Theragun Prime retails for $299 and can be purchased through their website or via Amazon. We like that they offer a 20 percent discount through their site to military personnel, veterans, first responders, and medical personnel when you purchase through the Therabody website. You can return within 30 days of purchase for a refund if you purchase through Therabody and it should be available for free returns through Amazon if you purchase there as well (but always read the fine print).
Theragun Prime review: Setup
The instructions in the kit suggest you download the Therabody app and connect your device via Bluetooth. You can use the device without the app or a smartphone and play around with the different attachments and grips but there aren’t any instructions in the package as to how to use this properly and effectively so downloading the free app will be your best bet for the full Theragun experience.
Theragun Prime review: Ergonomics
When the Theragun Prime arrived and I hoisted it out of the box, my initial thought was, “Oh, this is a little heavy.”
While it weighs less than three pounds, it had heft; I wondered if it would feel challenging to hold in several positions. However, it’s easy to turn on the device by holding the power button and adjust the speed with up and down arrows.
The triangular shaped device is designed to have an ergonomic grip so you can hold the device in different ways while using it on your body without getting fatigued or straining wrists, hands or arms. When I would follow a routine on the app, often by the end of a 6-minute session, my arm and wrist would get a little tired from holding it.
Theragun Prime review: Performance
“Whoa! This is intense!”
I’ve used soft heating pads for back pain and some rolling ball heated chair vibration massage devices in the past but the intensity of the Theragun Prime’s punch-punch-punch percussion device was unlike anything I had ever felt before.
When first using the Prime, I found it challenging to keep the device on my shins and calves properly and the pressure from a high frequency felt more intense in some of those areas. Later, I became more accustomed to the different grips and feel of the dampener and other attachment heads on my skin and muscles.
I found that using the Prime on my low back, glutes and thighs felt good and more pain-relieving than smaller muscles like my forearms, hands, and even neck area. I tried it as a “warm-up” before a few bike rides but didn’t notice any difference in how I felt during the workout. I used the Theragun Prime after bicycling workouts and walking and found that while it felt good, it didn’t make much of a difference in my recovery.
I like that the app shows you the suggested grip for each body part you’re using it on. A reverse grip means you’re putting your hand through the device, the base grip is when you put your thumb through the triangle and grip the front of the device, and the standard grip means you’re holding the device along the side of the triangle where the power button is.
Theragun Prime Review: Attachments
The Prime includes four attachments that are designed with non-porous closed-cell foam so it can be easily cleaned. Each attachment has a unique shape that’s designed to ensure the right treatment in the right area of the body.
For the most part, I used the standard dampener attachment for my massage sessions because it’s recommended in most of the guided routines and felt good on most body parts. The cone-shaped attachment is recommended for targeting feet and hands, the standard ball attachment is a firmer version of the dampener and is good for the small and large muscle groups, like glutes and calves. The thumb-shaped attachment is actually based on the founder’s thumb (Dr. Jason Wersland) to help with specific trigger points and low back release.
Theragun Prime Review: Noise level
Theragun says that the Prime is 70 percent quieter than previous versions thanks to its QX65 Motor Quietforce Technology. I wouldn’t call the device loud, but it’s certainly not “quieter than an electric toothbrush” as it says on the website — it’s more like a digital air compressor that we’d hook up to the car battery when filling up tires.
The first few times I turned the device on, I was concerned my sleeping toddler would hear it about 30 feet away and wake up so I moved into a different room (he never woke up from this noise).
There’s an image on the website of a couple in bed with the man using the Prime on his shoulder while his wife sleeps soundly next to him; I can’t imagine one person could be in bed next to someone else using this and the other not hear the device.
When I used the Theragun Prime around my neck, upper back, I couldn’t hear the TV show I was watching, but when I used the device on the lower part of my body, the sound from the Prime didn’t interrupt my television watching. My husband didn’t have to turn up the volume on the TV for him to hear the show when I was using the device nearby.
Theragun Prime Review: The app
I thought the Therabody app was pretty impressive and easy to use. There are a lot of guided sessions designed to help you warm up before a specific workout or sport, recover after specific workouts and sports, relieve stress, sleep better, and ease aches and pains from sitting at a computer. You can also search for guided sessions on specific body parts. Searching for “back” pulled up results of guided sessions for the lower back, upper back, upper body recovery, sciatica, baseball warm-up, baseball recovery, softball recovery, and softball warm-up.
Therabody seems to keep adding more guided sessions to the app — I didn’t remember seeing baseball, hiking, surfing, and kayaking when I first downloaded the app late spring 2021. Most of the guided routines include a video from Dr. Wersland on how the device helps with certain body parts.
Getting to the optimal force range of pressure specified in the app was a challenge. It often fluctuated between optimal and too high for me. You can adjust pressure per minute on the bottom of the app so the frequency is slower.
You can “save” programs to go back to quickly later and even sync Therabody with health apps like the Apple Health app and Strava app to get routines recommended for you based on your workouts and daily activities.
I liked the variety of routines and guided sessions with timed “steps” that showed you which attachment to use, where to place the device, how to hold the Prime, and the benefits of each routine. The “work from home” session says it’s designed to get blood flowing in your forearms, traps, lower back and calves.
Once you turn on the device and hit “start” on the app, the Prime kicks to life and automatically the force and frequency go to the suggested default “optimal” setting. Sometimes, that frequency default setting felt like a little too much for me so I’d adjust it down on the app. For example, during the “work from home” session, you use the device on your forearm and apply it up and down. The default frequency is 2400 PPM which can feel a bit intense at first so I scaled down on the app.
Theragun Prime review: Battery life
The company says that a fully charged Theragun Prime will last up to two hours. I used the massage gun a few times a week, about 5 to 7 minutes or so at a time and I didn’t need to charge it again for about 45 days.
Theragun Prime: Verdict
The Theragun Prime was pretty impressive. If you’re an athlete or someone who does hard workouts and sports regularly, it’s a great solution for recovery or warm-ups and is much more affordable and convenient than regularly getting sports massages. It’s nice that the battery life seems long and it doesn’t need to be plugged in to use it. Therabody did a good job with the app, which helped knock down the intimidation factor of using this loud, vibrating device.
At $299, the average consumer with aches and pains would benefit more from a less expensive massage gun that doesn’t penetrate as deep. But for those who need something to really get at those muscles, the Theragun Prime is worth it.