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February 09, 2023
While most people would associate a massage with relaxation, its earliest use was for medical purposes thousands of years ago. Massage therapy has been shown to have a wide range of benefits, particularly on sore muscles in athletes. Advancements in technology led to the development of massage guns, giving you the power of a deep tissue massage only using one hand. The convenience and effectiveness of massage guns make them excellent tools for anyone looking for relief. In this article, we will explore the wide range of benefits of massage guns and which one is best for your goals.
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Therabody is one of the leading brands regarding massage guns, and the Theragun Elite is their top-of-the-line model. This best overall gun features one of the quietest motors on the market and prides itself on the 5-in-1 benefits.
This powerful massage gun boosts recovery, performance, sleep, mobility, and stress. It also features five different heads with options of a dampener, standard ball, thumb, cone, and wedge.
It also features an OLED screen with Bluetooth capacity that integrates with the smart app, giving users total control. In addition, people are consistently impressed at the combination of power and quietness, making it the most versatile massage gun on the market.
Weight: 5.3 lbs; Battery Life: 2 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 5
Although some massage guns can be expensive, there are effective budget options. LifePro Sonic brings us the best budget massage gun, offering several top qualities of other guns at a fraction of the cost.
This easy-to-use gun features five intensity levels, an adjustable vibration switch, and eight different heads. Perhaps the best feature that its competitors do not have is the lifetime warranty, making it a great investment for a powerful, high-penetration massage.
At only 2.5 pounds and super quiet, it is one of the best massage guns to take on the road.
Weight: 2.5 lbs; Battery Life: 6 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 8
As we saw with the Elite model taking the best overall gun, Therabody is back with another premier product, the Theragun Pro. This professional-grade product is designed to target specific muscle groups and trigger points. Compared to its counterpart, the Elite, the Pro features an extra head and 60 pounds of force versus 40 in the Elite.
Just like other Therabody models, it features a user-friendly app and an easy-to-read OLED screen. Unique to this model is the patented SuperSoft head, an ultra-gentle option designed for sensitive areas and areas near joints and bones.
The extra strength motor and unique head make it perfect for athletes and anyone that trains hard, tackling the worst pains and knots. It also features a unique triangle grip design to make it easy to reach all areas.
Weight: 9.5 lbs; Battery Life: 5 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 6
Ekrin Athletics brings us a high-quality product featuring the best battery life in the B37s. The B37s is one of the best overall products on the market made by Ekrin Athletics, which has a reputation for top-level products.
This is one of the most multifaceted products, featuring five different speeds, with one of them being dynamic. The settings alternate between high and low speeds, as well as a pressure sensor. It is 35-55 decibels, which is roughly equivalent to rainfall, making it one of the more quiet models as well.
The ergonomics are some of the top-rated as well, featuring a 15-degree angled handle to allow for a more natural grip, reducing tension and fatigue in hand.
Weight: 5.3 lbs; Battery Life: 8 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 6
Amazon is the largest online retailer in America and carries a wide range of products, including massage guns. The best massage gun available on Amazon is the opove Apex, which offers an affordable and effective percussive massager that helps relieve pain, recover from workouts, and increase relaxation.
It features three different speeds and an impressive six interchangeable heads. The 45-degree angled handle design makes the process effortless and prevents wrist fatigue. It has a high-precision structural design from a university mechanics laboratory, guaranteeing the hit position will not deviate during the massage, making it more comfortable and efficient.
Weight: 2.3 lbs; Battery Life: 3.5 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 6
Once again, we have a top product from Therabody, one of the leading brands in the market. The Therabody Theragun Mini has consistently ranked as the best mini massage gun, giving us an affordable and effective option.
This easily portable mini massage gun is only 8" x 7", making it perfect to fit in your gym bag or purse. The new generation model is 20% smaller and 30% lighter without sacrificing any power, as well as offering three heads compared to one on the old model.
It features three different speeds and features the same patented QuiteForce technology to minimize noise.
Weight: 1.4 lbs; Battery Life: 2.5 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 3
Athletes generally have more specific needs than your average person, so having a massage gun specifically for athletes is a must. The best massage gun for athletes is the Hyperice Hypervolt 2, featuring unique heads to target the muscles that need it most.
It is designed specifically for runners, with head attachments that are designed for the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The updated second version of this product features a longer-lasting battery and is slightly lighter.
It features five head attachments, three different speeds, and patented pressure sensor technology. It also has Bluetooth connectivity, with pre-set programs and the capability to create custom programs.
Weight: 1.8 lbs; Battery Life: 3 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 5
As massage gun technology has evolved, it has greatly reduced the noise from some of the earliest models. This leads us to the quietest massage gun on the market, the Hydragun.
Hydragun uses its patented SmoothDrive technology to give us the world's quietest massage gun. It has a decibel rating of 30 to 50, which falls between a whisper and normal conversation. Just because it is so quiet doesn't mean it lacks power, featuring a 3200 RPM torque motor, whereas most other massage guns on the market are around 2800 RPM.
It also features an impressive six different speeds and seven different heads, making it extremely user-friendly.
Weight: 2.3 lbs; Battery Life: 6 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 7
Achedaway Pro is a powerful percussion massage gun that is targeted specifically for athletes and deep-tissue relief. This product rivals the Theragun Pro and has been consistently rated the best deep-tissue massage gun.
Another top feature of this product is that it is one of the quietest percussive massagers on the market despite having five speeds. It features four interchangeable heads, including a specialized soft head where one would usually use their thumb and a bullet head for deeper tissue massage and trigger points.
These heads are especially useful for athletes as the percussive vibration massages deep into muscle tissue to relieve the soreness and muscle pain caused by fitness.
Weight: 2.6 lbs; Battery Life: 2-3 hours; Interchangeable Heads: 4
Massage guns, also known as percussion massagers, are handheld devices that use pressure to massage the body. Most people are likely aware of massage chairs existing in various places, from malls to arcade rooms. As technology has improved, we have found a way to take the massaging power and make it handheld.
The product has evolved to now most models having multiple interchangeable heads, usually for different body parts or types of massage. They also use a range of adjustable speeds. That way, you control which areas require more pressure.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts have found these extremely beneficial, as they are easy to travel with and use on the go, bringing access to muscle and pain relief. Massage guns have a wide range of benefits, which we will explore below.
The use of massage dates back to ancient civilizations, with ancient Chinese known to use them as a means of therapy and medicine. The use of massage evolved from medicine to more general use for overall physical and mental well-being. Massage therapy is widely used today and has led to the mass use of massage guns. We will examine the benefits of massage guns below.
When people typically think of a massage, most people would consider it a type of relaxation or stress reliever. The connection between massage and stress relief lies in the main stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is released during stress as the body's "fight-or-flight" response, causing sugars to increase in the bloodstream as an energy source.
This energy can be useful to manage stress and perform other functions like regulating blood pressure, but too much will make the problem worse. Several different studies have shown that massage can reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels.
One particular study measured massage therapy's effect on stress in 32 depressed adolescent mothers compared to relaxation therapy. The women received ten 30-minute sessions for five weeks. Both groups reported lower anxiety, but only the massage therapy group showed stress hormone and behavioral changes.
The massage group experienced a decrease in anxious behavior, pulse, and salivary cortisol levels. They also decreased urine cortisol levels, showing that massage can relieve stress by reducing cortisol levels. Deep tissue massages are extremely effective at reducing cortisol levels, so percussion massage guns are a great way to help reduce stress.¹
One of the most well-known benefits of massage guns is increased blood flow, as most companies advertise this in their descriptions. There have been several different studies that show the use of massage guns increases blood flow to the area being massaged.
One study was conducted at the Research Center on Physical Disability in Spain on patients with spinal cord injuries. They tested the effects of whole-body vibration on muscular activity and blood flow using three different frequencies (10, 20, or 30hz) of massage in six 3-minute intervals. The results showed that peak blood velocity increased each minute.
The lowest frequency of 10hz did not affect blood flow, while the middle frequency increased after the second and third minutes. The highest frequency of 30hz showed increases in peak blood velocity after each minute, as well as one minute after the vibration stopped. They concluded that whole-body massage is effective at increasing blood flow, as well as activating muscle mass in spinal cord injury patients.
It also showed that the higher the frequency of massage, the greater the blood flow increased, showing massage guns are a great way to increase blood flow.²
If you watch professional sports regularly, you will see several athletes using massage guns on the sidelines. Massage therapy has been used successfully for years to improve muscle recovery and performance.
One study sought to test the effects of a 5-minute percussive massage in calf muscles on the range of motion (ROM) and maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) torque of the plantar flexor muscles. They used 16 healthy males with an average age of 27 on two separate days, once using a Hyperice Hypervolt or the control, which was just sitting in place. The results showed a large increase in the range of motion by an average of 5.4 degrees, which was roughly an 18.4% increase, while the control group had no change.
There was no difference in MVC, which shows percussive massage can increase the range of motion without affecting muscle strength.³
Perhaps the main reason people seek massages besides relaxation is relief from sore muscles. Massage guns are designed specifically to target muscle soreness, and there are several studies to support this practice.
One study wanted to compare the effects of massage therapy on DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS occurs when the body experiences a shock in intensity or volume of training, typically when someone is just getting back into the gym or changing routines.
The experiment used 45 healthy women and divided them into three groups, a control, a five-minute percussive massage, and 15-minute regular massage therapy. They tested them for various measurements to evaluate changes in muscle condition, including muscle soreness, pain perception, and range of motion, among other metrics.
They found significantly less soreness in the massage therapy groups. They concluded that percussive and regular therapy were equally effective at preventing DOMS, but the percussive therapy showed a clinical reduction of pain as well.⁴
One of the most common uses of massage guns is rehabilitation and physical therapy. Whether it is simple muscle soreness after a gym session or a more serious injury involving surgery, massage therapy can help speed up recovery.
We know that massage guns help increase blood flow, improving circulation in the fascial tissues and muscles. Percussive therapy causes this boost in circulation, leading to improved flexibility in the area. Several of the massage gun brands are directed specifically at athletes that are looking to recover from injury.
One study at a private sports medicine clinic in Melbourne, Australia, aimed to determine the effect of massage on anterior chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS). This exercise-induced condition is caused by a pressure build-up, leading to swelling, pain, and even disability. Seven athletes between 21 and 29 years old that suffer from CECS went through a five-week massage treatment.
Although there was no change in pressure, the athletes had a significant change in the amount of exercise they could perform before pain onset. They concluded that massage therapy should be used in rehabilitation from CECS. Be sure to consult your physical therapist if you are recovering from an injury.⁵
Like muscle soreness, several people turn to massage for pain relief, often from sports and fitness-related injuries. Massage therapy helps relieve pain through different mechanisms, focusing on the muscles, joints, and tendons in various ways. As we learned above, massage increases blood flow, which can reduce pain by pushing nutrients into the muscles while removing toxins.
Several studies have been done to test the effectiveness of massage therapy on pain. One randomized controlled study involved 107 subjects and divided them into four different therapy groups: comprehensive massage therapy, soft-issue only, remedial exercise with posture education, and a placebo. Each group received six treatments within one month and recorded a few pain measurements. The results showed a marked decrease in pain in the comprehensive massage group. They showed improved function, less intense pain, and a decrease in the quality of pain compared to the other groups.
The soft-tissue manipulation-only group also showed a decrease in the pain measurements, but much lower than the comprehensive group. A one-month follow-up showed that 63% of the comprehensive group had no pain compared to 27% of the soft-tissue group and 14% of the remedial exercise group.
They concluded that patients with lower back pain could greatly benefit from comprehensive massage therapy. Lower back pain is known to be some of the most stubborn and severe pain, so a massage gun would likely provide significant pain relief for minor fitness-related pain.⁶
Many scientists claim that using a massage gun can potentially improve essential functions and stimulate the nervous system. The most known example is the potential to stimulate the production and release of serotonin and dopamine. These "feel-good" chemicals have been proven to improve mood and focus.
This is believed to be the same reason why massage leads to relaxation. More comprehensive studies need to be done before any conclusions can be confirmed, but several scientists suggest percussion therapy can stimulate the nervous system.
Although there are no conclusive studies, several scientists believe that percussion therapy can break up scar tissue. Massaging the scar tissue has become the top recommended method for safely breaking down scar tissue. It's believed to work by breaking down collagen cells that are clumped together.
This helps restore the cells to their natural structures, ensuring scar tissue can't develop. Massage also helps prevent scar tissue from growing by increasing circulation and loosening restrictive fibrous bands.
One study that demonstrated this was conducted using 146 burn patients. The results showed that burn rehabilitation massage therapy was successful at decreasing scar thickness and scar elasticity, as well as pain. Be sure the scar is fully healed before starting treatment, as you can tear or reopen the injury.⁷
Massage guns should be considered an investment, as they will provide relief for the foreseeable future. As such, you should treat purchasing your massage gun in the same manner as any other investment. Some of the things to look for when buying a massage gun are below.
Most massage guns recommend using the product at least once daily if you use it properly. It is perfectly safe to have two to three sessions a day but try to keep each session only a few minutes. Be sure to follow the instructions because too much use can further your injury.
Some guns are designed to work better on specific parts of the body. Be sure to research the products if you want relief on a specific body part, such as tight muscles. This is where the number of interchangeable heads comes in if you plan on targeting multiple body parts.
If you often travel or plan on bringing your massage gun to the gym, a protective carrying case is a must. Read the description because many companies include a carrying case, but some sell it separately. It is obviously more cost-effective if the carrying case is included, or at least some protective case to preserve your investment.
Technology continues to improve every year, which results in products becoming smaller and lighter. Weight should be considered, as a heavier gun might be harder to hold and maneuver for long periods of time. Most guns are between two to five pounds, with lighter and heavier options. They also sell mini massage guns, like the Theragun Mini, which work efficiently for their size. If you are looking for a more professional, deeper massage, you will likely prefer a heavier model.
Just like weight, noise is another feature that has improved significantly with advances in technology. The earliest models of massage guns were extremely noisy, which can make the massage uncomfortable. Luckily the products have evolved and are significantly quieter, which makes them great to use in public. For example, our top overall gun, the Theragun Elite, reduced its noise by 75% from its previous generation model. The quietest models have a decibel rating between 30 and 60, roughly equivalent to rainfall or a light whisper.
Nearly all massage guns will have roughly the same battery life of two to three hours. If you are someone who travels often or goes through extended sessions, a product with a longer battery life might be beneficial.
The number of massage head attachments a device comes with is important because not all body parts can be reached using a basic head. Massage guns typically have a standard three to four massage heads that will reach the most commonly massaged areas. If you are looking for a specific muscle group, be sure to shop around for the best attachments that fulfill your needs. For example, a large balled head is ideal for large muscle groups, while a pointed head can trigger target points.
Stall force is the amount of applied pressure an item can sustain without stalling, usually measured in pounds. Depending on your size, the greater the stall force is generally considered better because it is withstanding more pressure. Higher stall force is more important for larger and more muscular builds, which need higher force to work the muscles. If you have a smaller build or plan on using it in sensitive areas, a lower stall force massage gun will work great.
Stroke length is the depth the percussion can reach into the muscles, typically measured in millimeters. Most massage guns will be around 16 millimeters, which is sufficient to treat the body. For example, the Theragun line of products has a stroke length of 16 mm, except the mini, which is 12 mm. Theragun states that 16 mm is optimal for deep muscle treatment. Some options go deeper, but they are not always required depending on your goals.
One of the main numbers you will see purchasing a gun is the number of speed settings. A greater number of speed settings will mean more customizable options. The speed is measured in percussions per minute (PPM) and is usually shown on a display screen. This is an important feature because it gives you more control. Speed settings do not correlate to power; they are simply the increments in which the speed increases.
One of the things that stands out if you browse multiple brands is the variety of shapes they come in. Most guns have similar but unique angled handles, as well as a rotating arm. Rotating arms are great because they help you reach almost any body part.
As with most electronics, you should be looking to receive some type of warranty when you purchase the item. You are investing money into a product that you expect to last several years. To maximize your investment, you should try to find a product that offers a lifetime warranty guarantee. Not everyone offers warranties, and even fewer offer lifetime, so be sure to take note of this when deciding which product is best for you.
Massage guns have a wide range in price. As with anything, a general rule of thumb is "you get what you pay for." While there are options under $50 available online, these products are often severely lacking in several areas. If massage is important to your life and you are in a financial position to afford it, consider this an investment and make the decision based on what makes sense for your situation. The guns we featured had an average price of $350, with the most expensive being $600 and the cheapest massage gun $99.
There are thousands of reviews online for massage guns, with hundreds for each brand. These reviews are beneficial when trying to determine the best product for you. This is especially true if you are seeking a specific type of relief, such as back or neck pain.
Yes, massage guns are most definitely a good idea! They provide relief from muscle pain and soreness, as well as other tension in the body. Anyone can benefit from using massage therapy as long as it is done properly and in moderation.
Some parts of the body should not be used as they can cause more harm than good. These areas include over bones and joints, the head, the face, the abdomen, and sensitive areas, such as varicose veins or a sore lower back.
Yes, massage guns can help break knots or muscle adhesions that cause pain and limit mobility. The percussive force breaks the adhesives, which send blood to the area to help break the tension and pain. It is a gradual process, so be sure to follow a routine.
Yes, it is usually safe to use a massage gun daily as long as you are using it properly and not overusing it. Too much pressure, intensity, or time using it can be counterproductive and lead to injury or soreness. Listen to your body and contact your physician to be sure it is safe if you suffer from any health issues.
The disadvantages of massage guns are the expensive cost, risk of injury, possible skin irritation, and loud noise, and it might not be safe for everyone, such as people with skin issues.
Consider these as an investment since they will be used for several years, with some containing a lifetime warranty. Depending on your financial situation, the average massage gun ranges from $200-350, with models slightly less expensive and some much more expensive. It all depends on your financial situation and personal needs.
The use of massage therapy dates back thousands of years and continues to grow today with improvements in technology. These technological advancements have led to handheld percussion guns with enough power to relieve muscle pain. Massage guns are widely used for their benefits, including increased blood flow, reduced pain and inflammation, and rehabilitation from injury. With a wide range of products and prices, it can be overwhelming when figuring out which massage gun is best for you. Some guns are better for deep tissue massage on sports-related injuries, while others are designed for travel. We recommend the Theragun Elite as our favorite massage gun.
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