You may have seen massage guns explode on social media thanks to fascinating slow motion videos, or heard from your friends how much they relieve sore muscles after a hard workout. But if you think it’s just about the latest fitness trend that is sure to pass in a year or two, you’re wrong. Massage guns aren’t just great for viral videos; They are an amazingly useful tool that aids recovery and injury prevention.
Massage has long been known to be beneficial for recovery, but seeing a massage therapist on a daily basis to resolve your knots and pain is unrealistic for most. Because of this, massage guns and their percussive therapy have become very popular in recent years. These wearable devices work your muscles in quick succession, which essentially helps you recover faster. In fact, vibration therapy has been shown to help relieve sore muscles after exercise so you can get back to exercise faster. In addition, there are even studies showing that vibration therapy can also prevent muscle damage if you use it before a workout.
Dr. However, Jason Wersland, Therabody’s founder and chief wellness officer, points out that percussion therapy and vibration therapy are not the same thing. “It’s important for people to know that there is a difference between vibration and percussion. The body reacts differently to everyone, ”he says. “Theragun pioneered percussive therapy, which is a deeper, more effective method of relaxation and physical activation.”
Dr. Karena Wu, owner and clinical director of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in New York, explains how this therapy works. “The fast pounding really pumps the area and promotes fluid circulation. The massage itself is irritating to the muscle and is meant to bring blood flow to an area, ”she says. “If a patient needs a lot of space during a session or needs to be warmed up really quickly on the handkerchiefs, the massage gun comes first.”
Donald Zerio, a physical therapist at Spear Physical Therapy in New York, explains that massage guns work just like your tried and tested foam roller. “They work in the same way as foam rollers,” he says. “It is another method of soft tissue mobilization that has the advantage of loosening tight muscle tissue, which creates a feeling of relief and offers a short-term improvement in flexibility.”
Ashley Rozek, Spear’s physical therapist and clinical director, also says massage guns are a great tool for both recovery and pre-workout training. However, to get the most from them, you should seek professional help. “I think it’s important to see a physical therapist and learn how to use the gun safely and correctly on your body so that you can use it effectively at home,” she says.
Zerio agrees with Rozek, saying that knowing exactly how to use your massage gun is important. “It takes a certain amount of skill and you can get injured if you’re not careful,” he says. “We encourage our patients to take their massage guns to a physical therapist so we can show how to use the different hammer heads and vary the depth and speed for specific muscle groups.”
There are tons of massage guns out there, from a premium Theragun for $ 600 to much, much cheaper ones on Amazon. To help you decide which massage gun to buy, we asked our experts for some tips on what to look out for.
Wu says he should find a device that is really comfortable to hold. “Ergonomic design so your arm doesn’t get tired when you hold it,” she says. “The weight of the massage gun is important so you can hold it back in or in place without putting any strain on the other arm.” She also recommends finding one with multiple attachments so you can use it on different muscle groups all over your body .
Zerio points out that speed and noise are other important factors to look out for. “General specifications to look out for are the variety of percussion heads that came with the product, the noise level (some of which can sound like a jackhammer), and the number of speed options,” he says. “More expensive massage guns have up to five speed options, which isn’t really necessary when two or three are really everything.”
Zeroo says it’s actually more important to pay attention to depth than speed. Wu explains the difference. “Different speeds mean they’re gentler and more calming than faster and more stimulating,” she says. “The depth of the percussion or amplitude is more likely to result in a vibrating vs. percussive feeling, which in turn would be applicable to more superficial rather than deeper areas.”
Below we have listed massage guns that correspond to our expert instructions, as well as the massage guns that you use in your practice.
Sonic handheld percussion massage gun ($ 99; amazon.com)
Sonic handheld percussion massage gun
With eight interchangeable heads, five speeds, and an ergonomic design, this $ 99 massage gun is the cheapest on our list. But don’t let the price fool you – the Sonic Percussive Gun still has everything you need for a thorough massage.
Vybe Pro Percussion Massage Gun ($ 149.99, originally $ 199.99; amazon.com)
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Vybe Pro Percussion Massage Gun
With nine speeds, eight attachments, a 12-millimeter amplitude and a long, ergonomic handle, the Vybe Pro fulfills all requirements. Also, three of the heads of this massager are made of metal to really penetrate your deep tissues.
PureWave Gen II Dual Massager ($ 149.95; padousa.com)
PureWave Gen II dual massager
“I use the PureWave Gen II Dual Massager because I find it is suitable for a wider population,” says Wu. “It has a long handle design which is the only massage gun that can reach down to your lower legs and entire bum without sacrificing your other body parts. The PureWave is great because it has more attachments (seven versus four typically) and a percussion side (for larger muscle groups) and a vibrating side (for smaller and more superficial areas). The PureWave also has 12 speeds, which means that you can use it on more sensitive people. ”
Theragun Prime ($ 299; theragun.com)
“Our unique combination of amplitude, frequency and torque makes the Theragun more effective at improving movement and recovery than any other device available,” says Wersland. The second cheapest massage gun on the brand, the Theragun Prime has a 16 millimeter amplitude, which means it can penetrate deeper into your muscles than most other massage guns you will find. Theragun also has an app that can pair with the Theragun Prime and guide you through recovery routines and more.
Sonic X Personal Percussion Massage Gun ($ 159.99; amazon.com)
Sonic X Personal Percussion Massage Gun
Zerio uses the LifePro Pulse Fx massage gun, which is unfortunately no longer available. However, this same brand massage gun has six different attachments and a curved, ergonomic handle for easy massage.
Theragun Mini ($ 199; theragun.com)
Weighing around 1.5 pounds, the Theragun Mini is the brand’s lightest, most portable option. It has an amplitude of 12 millimeters and three speed levels, and when we tested it ourselves, we were amazed by its quiet and effective massage experience. If you’re an athlete or fitness trainer looking for a more powerful piece of equipment, check out our full breakdown of Theragun’s latest massage guns here.
Hypervolt ($ 299, originally $ 349.99; amazon.com)
This popular massage gun comes with five attachments, three speed settings and weighs 2.5 pounds. Its high-torque motor ensures a powerful, effective massage no matter where you take it.
Opove Massage Gun ($ 199.99, originally $ 209.99; amazon.com)
Opove massage gun
This massager from Opove has a deep 15 millimeter amplitude, 50 pounds of stall force, and five attachments to give you a deep and powerful massage. It’s also pretty light, weighing just 2.3 pounds, so your arm won’t get as tired when hitting hard-to-reach places.