Whether you’re someone who likes to sweat it out on a yoga mat or get zen with a meditation app, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Stress levels are high, and we all deserve a massage. However, you don’t have to go to a spa or have a masseuse in the family to get all of those knots out of your muscles if you invest in a massage gun.
We tested eight of the most popular massage guns, ranging in price from $119 to $399 to find the best ones for your money. Our favorite: the Theragun Elite (available at Amazon) because of its ergonomic design, range of speed options, and Bluetooth connectivity with its accompanying app. But our top budget-friendly pick, the Vybe Pro (available at Amazon), has a lot to offer as well.
These are the best massage guns we tested ranked, in order:
- Therabody Theragun Elite
- Hyperice Hypervolt
- Vybe Pro Percussion Massage Gun
- Therabody Theragun Mini
- ExoGun DreamPro
- Ekrin B37
- Sportneer K1 Percussive Massage Gun
- FlyBy F1Pro
How We Tested
Hi, I’m Kate, the senior social media manager at Reviewed and resident fitness fanatic. As an avid runner and all-around athlete, I’m used to aches and pains, and my various athletic endeavors leave me with plenty of sore muscles to tend to. I’ve tested all sorts of fitness gear, from running watches to leggings, and wanted to do a deeper dive on massage guns after trying out a few different kinds last year.
Julia MacDougall, Reviewed’s senior scientist, helped me put together a series of tests to evaluate each massage guns efficacy. In the tests, I considered a multitude of factors with each massage gun, including ergonomic design and ease of use, as well as things like how many intensity settings and attachments they had, the amount of force each gun offers, and their battery life. I also factored in bonus features like companion apps and tutorial videos, which can optimize your massage gun usage, and wrote down my general thoughts on how well each helped with muscle recovery.
What You Should Know About Massage Guns
You’ve likely seen everyone from professional athletes to Justin Bieber using these futuristic-looking devices. Simply put, a massage gun is a handheld electric tool that allows you to apply vibration and percussion therapy to muscles to increase blood flow in the area. This accelerates muscle recovery and helps relieve post-workout soreness and stiffness or, conversely, can help loosen up cold muscles before you exercise. Each massage gun has various attachments and a range of intensity settings so you can tend to tension anywhere on your body, from your larger muscle groups like quads and hamstrings, down to your calves and wrists.
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In other words, if you’ve ever used a foam roller, you can expect a similar effect, but leveled all the way up. Both are forms of self myofascial release, that make the fascia encompassing your muscles more pliable, therefore increasing mobility.
But massage guns are not only for gym rats and athletes: Anyone who enjoys a massage can benefit from this tool. Though, if you’re using it as a recovery tool and you aren’t an elite athlete under a trainer’s supervision, you’ll also want to work in a rest day a rest day or two to ensure your muscles are recovering properly.
How To Use a Massage Gun
Using a massage gun is easy—during testing, the hardest part for me was finding the “on” button. The majority of companies who make these products offer “how-to” videos and usually have apps that show you which attachment and setting to try on each part of your body. The key metric to pay attention to with massage guns are its percussions per minute (PPM), which is the speed range of the motor. The higher the PPM, the more pressure you are likely to feel when using the massage gun (most massage guns max out at 2400 PPM).
There’s variation of speeds within each brand, but all massage guns start at a low speed and go to a high vibration. Most of the lower speeds are designed for warming up the muscles, mid-range speeds focus on relaxation, and the highest speeds are about getting into the deep tissue. The basic instructions are to hold the gun in one hand and trace the length of the targeted muscle, and if you have a sore spot, hold it in place on that area until you feel the knot dissipate.
Most massage guns we tested came with a few different attachments. While some had more than others, they all had some standard ones included. The most common attachment is the dampener, which looks a little flatter than a ball. This is meant to be used all over the body, especially on more tender or bony areas. The standard ball attachment, which, yes, just looks like a ball, is meant for overall use on both larger and smaller muscle groups. A cone attachment, which just looks like a tiny traffic cone to put on your massage gun, is for pinpointing specific trouble areas like knots in your back, as well as your hands and feet. A forked or pronged attachment is meant for massage along your spine. While these attachments do not come with every single massage gun, they were the four most popular we found in testing.
A 2014 study found that vibration therapy can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and allow you to regain full range of motion quicker. While percussion therapy has the same benefits, it reaches 60% deeper into muscles, therefore providing deeper massage-like benefits. But it is always best to speak with your doctor first if you have any questions about whether or not you should be using a massage gun. In the case of strains, sprains, broken bones, or inflammation injuries, the use of a massage gun is not recommended.
Who Should Get a Massage Gun?
Were these massage guns refreshing to use after my workouts and long runs? Yes. Were they significantly different than using a foam roller? Not so much.
The main appeal of a massage gun is that you can get into muscles that are usually tough to roll out, like traps and triceps, or the bottom of your feet, using the same tool. Usually, you can get similar relief from rolling out on a foam roller or rolling out your feet on a tennis ball. But if you want to address all of these issues with one tool, and lie on the couch while recovering, then a massage gun is worthwhile. Massage guns are also great for non-athletes who just want to feel the muscle relief of a massage without the hassle of going to a masseuse, or for people who aren’t able to or don’t want to roll around on the floor on a foam roller.