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Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Best Massage Guns on the Market

If you’ve been inside a gym or physical therapist’s office over the past couple years—or scrolled through your Instagram feed—you’ve likely come face-to-face with a percussive massage gun. These popular tools look like power drills and are designed to aid recovery, decrease soreness and increase range of motion by pleasantly beating your muscles into submission.

When the Theragun and the TimTam Power Massager launched in 2016, they were in a class of their own above other personal massagers on the market. Rather than kneading your muscles with simple vibrations, they featured powerful percussive massage therapy, a form of deep soft tissue manipulation. Basically, they punched you. Rapidly.

After finding favor among gym-goers, CrossFitters, and NBA athletes like Kyrie Irving, the category began to expand, with several more products hitting the market. Now, options include the Hypervolt, plus more upstarts that seem to pop up each week. It’s enough to make your head spin—which would likely cause some neck pain that a massage gun could address.

With three years on the market, the companies behind the devices are now releasing next-gen versions, like the Theragun Pro and Theragun Mini, and the use of massage guns for recovery looks less like a trend and more like a practice with real staying power. Here’s what you need to know about the tools so you can to incorporate them into your own routine.

Why Use a Percussion Massage Gun?

“Massage guns can be used as an alternative to the foam roller as a self-myofascial release tool,” says Vinh Pham, a physical therapist and the founder of Myodetox, a manual therapy and movement clinic with locations in Canada and the U.S. He notes that benefits include everything from decreased stress, pain and tissue tension to enhanced recovery, blood circulation and range of motion.

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“You can use it pre-workout to warm up the muscles and post-workout to decrease tightness and soreness,” adds Pham.

Want to learn exactly how you should be using one of these buzzy tools? Check out our how-to guide for instructions for best practices before, during, and after workouts.

What to Look For in a Percussion Massage Gun

To learn more about what to look for in a massage gun, we spoke with Pham and Josh Orendorf, a physical therapist, certified personal trainer and the owner of Paceline Physical Therapy in Franklin, Tennessee.

“The three most important things for me are reliability, noise, and battery life,” says Orendorf. “I need something that I know is well-made and won’t malfunction during operation, especially because I’m using it on injured athletes. Noise is the next most important factor. I need to be able to talk to my athletes over the noise of the gun without yelling at them.”

Pham agrees that keeping treatment quiet is a major priority. “Personally, noise to me is number one,” says Pham. “I want to be able to use the massage guns in public, and having it sound like a power tool would make it unusable.”

Next up is battery life, as Orendorf also can’t have guns dying in the middle of treatment. He says that he expects a gun to last several full days without requiring a charge. “You’ll also want to be able to throw the gun in your bag or take it on a weekend trip without worrying about finding an outlet,” he says.

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That list of priorities remains mostly the same for at-home use. Orendorf notes that reliability is still key, and that it’s worth investing in a legitimate brand with high quality standards rather than a knockoff. “Be prepared to spend at least $250 to $350 for a quality product,” he says. “I would be very suspect of guns in the $100 range.”

Of course, even the best guns leave room for improvement. Some options come with convenient travel cases and charging stands—something Orendorf would like to see more products offer. He also mentions that dishwasher-safe attachment heads would make for easier cleaning. And, as the market continues to progress, he hopes for smaller (yet still powerful) designs and Bluetooth app-integration.

But one of the biggest improvements the experts want to see wouldn’t even come in the hardware itself. “Personally, I think they need to come with a better instruction manual,” says Pham. “People would benefit a lot more from them if they knew how to use them to their fullest potential.”

The Best Percussion Massagers, Right Now

With these priorities and wish lists in mind, the below massage guns represent some of the best options on the market.

Hyperice Hypervolt

The standard entry in Hyperice’s Hypervolt line isn’t as high-powered as its follow-up (see more on that just below), but that doesn’t mean that it can’t get the job done.

The lightweight device weighs only 2.5 pounds, so it won’t sit like a rock in your gym bag. The quiet motor allows you to switch speeds on demand and change between five different head attachments to vary your experience.

Hyperice Hypervolt Plus

Hyperice’s top gun was developed for elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Dubbed the Hypervolt Plus, it drills into your muscles with 30 percent more intensity than the original.

The device still clocks in at a maximum of 3,200 percussions per minute, but each individual percussion is 30 percent more powerful to really target those sore muscles. The battery yields about two hours of use per charge and the simple, T-shaped design is comfortable to grip.

Theragun PRO

This is Theragun’s latest model, with a 300-minute battery life, rotating arm and ergonomic grip, that has 4 different arm positions and 6 attachments. It also has five different percussion settings: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2400 percussions per minute, with up to 60 pounds of force. The PRO also has ‘smart’ capabilities with the Therabody app to track progress and data with Bluetooth connectivity. And it has an OLED screen complete with a force meter.

Theragun Elite

The Elite model is a slightly smaller option compared to the PRO. It also has five different percussion settings, and up to 40 pounds of force. It comes with 5 attachments, and has a 120-minute battery life. It’s also integrated with the Therabody app via Bluetooth and OLED display.

Theragun Prime

Theragun’s Prime model is the brand’s most ‘basic’ tool. It also has five different percussion settings, and up to 30 pounds of force. It comes with 4 attachments, and also has a 120-minute battery life. It’s also includes the Therabody app integration via Bluetooth.

Theragun mini

This pocket-sized model is perfect for transport and portability. It weighs a total of 1.43 pounds, and has 150 minutes of battery life with 3 different speed settings (1750, 2100 and 2400) and one attachment.

TimTam Power Massager

TimTam was created by MMA legend George St-Pierre and CrossFit and mobility coach Kelly Starrett—two guys who understand the importance of recovery. The Power Massager delivers percussions at a max rate of 2,500 per minute and has made significant strides in reducing noise as compared to the original. They’re continuing to offer advancements, though.

The brand-new Power Massager Pro is lighter, more powerful at a max of 2,800 strokes per minute, and features a heated tip to further tame your body’s soft tissue.

Kevin Gray is the editor of Bevvy and a writer for hire covering food, drinks, fitness and travel.

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Samuel Sanders
Samuel is a core member of the team at Globe Visions. He flaunts skills in high-level documentation with trending topic development and specializes in creating and curating health and science news content for the website. He also an editor for non-member contributor around the globe.

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