Sore muscles are a pain but with the new availability of percussive massage therapy (aka massage guns) you can pummel your muscles with confidence and relief. Throughout the year we’ve been gathering information and reviews to compile this list of the best massage guns of 2022 that you should know about. With a variety of options on features, form, and price, we’ll step up your recovery game so that you can get back in the gym quicker than ever with this massage gun buying guide.
What Is Percussive Massage Therapy?
While the name is long and a little intimidating, this is the official term for what massage guns accomplish for your body and your muscles. Using repetitive pulses and vibrations, a massage gun performs percussive massage on soft tissue to relieve soreness, pain, and to help with the recovery process post workout.
By increasing blood flow to your hard worked muscles and soft tissue, you can even improve your range of motion, flexibility, and prevent or reduce your chance of injury. It’s a great technique to not just use in your physical therapy office or chiropractic office, thanks to the wide availability and market of massage guns available to the common consumer.
Are Massage Guns Worth It
Using a massage gun, let alone purchasing one, can be beneficial to your muscles and overall recovery process. But are massage guns worth it? When used safely and correctly, massage guns or percussion guns can be beneficial so that you don’t have to put so much effort into your recovery. You can get deeper into the muscle tissue than say self-myofascial release, and you can target specific areas or muscle a little better than just hopping on the lacrosse ball and pummeling the muscle until it hurts.
That being said, when you use the massage gun too often on an area or go too hard, you can potentially damage the muscle, experience bruising, and delayed recovery times. We do not recommend using a massage gun to target areas like bones or joints, and we do recommend only using them on soft tissue. If you are pregnant, have fragile bones, or other issues like hernias or otherwise, we highly recommend consulting your physician to see if a massage gun will be beneficial or not for you.
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Optimize Recovery Before Buying A Massage Gun
While a massage gun can be a great way to optimize your recovery and relieve your soft tissue, it can also be unnecessary if you haven’t worked to dial in your food, hydration, supplementation, or if you don’t spend any time at all stretching pre/post-workout. If you haven’t dialed these things in, work on them first, then if you’re still having trouble recovery, then investing in a percussive therapy gun might be a good idea.
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Massage Gun vs Foam Roller
This is a great comparison and question that we get often – which is more effective when talking about massage guns vs foam rollers? Initially, when it comes down to deciding, there isn’t a clear winner. The first thing to consider though if you’re on the fence is going to be the price point where foam rollers take the cake. You can spend $5-$20 (especially if its used) versus $100 - $400 + on a gun.
There isn’t a significant difference between the net benefits of the tissue release and recovery relief that either tool can provide. You might be able to get into some smaller muscles more comfortably with a gun, targeting an area better, but other than that, not too much difference to speak of when it comes to investing in a massage gun vs a foam roller.
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When looking over the massage gun options in this article you’re going to want to keep a few things in mind when deciding which one might be best for you and your goals.
- Accessories: Higher level athletes might require more head attachments to get into different facia and tissue whereas the every day exerciser might not. Think about the use of the gun, the areas it will apply to, and how much you’re going to use it. Not sure? Start with the basic attachments then add on from there to save some money.
- Adjustability: If you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the back of the body, think shoulders, neck, back and glutes, and you’re not going to have someone around to help you, adjustability is something you want to think about when picking out a massage gun. Some heads rotate, others cannot. Obviously those that do rotate will come with a higher price tag.
- Amplitude: This is also called the stroke and the reason why it matters comes down to the impact the gun is going to make on your facia tissue. The range of amplitude, or stroke, of massage guns is usually between 10-16mm where the extra millimeters are going to give you a little more impact and a deeper massage.
- Portability: Realistically, the size of the massage gun is going to matter if you’re going to take it places and not just leave it at home. If you are traveling, how far will you be traveling and what type of room do you have to pack the massage gun in your bag? Definitely something to think about.
- Massage Speed: The speed of a massage gun is measured in percussions per minute (ppm). While most guns range 2,000 – 3,000 ppm, those that give a more intense massage will surpass 2,500 ppm. Also check to see if there are different speed levels on the gun to switch back and forth.
- Noise Level: Some people care about this one, others don’t. If you don’t, then a lower price point gun is the way to go, but it might sound like a small air compressor when you’re using it. Trying to relax? Might not be the best go-to. Believe it or not, the noise level is one of the most popular and sought-after features of massage guns on the market and you can not only relax better, but you can also not drown out the noise of a movie you’re watching, a friend who’s talking, or bring unnecessary attention to yourself if you’re using the self-massage gun in an airport or gym setting, for example. Peep the decibels on the product page or look for terms like ‘brushless motor’.
What Is The Best Massage Gun?
Whether you’re looking for the best massage gun for athletes, massage gun brands, or massage gun tips, we’ve got you covered in the list of the best massage guns we could find for 2021. Keep in mind there is no particular order or hierarchy here, just a list of our best pics.
1. Compex Fixx 1.0 and 2.0
Compex is an extremely reputable (and large) company in the massage gun space for good reason. The massage guns not only help warm up muscles before a workout but also work to relieve stiffness afterwards. With a variety of settings, powerful force, and intensity, you can really dig into those muscles safely and efficiently. There are a variety of other heads and attachments you can buy and speeds range from 1000ppm to 3000ppm. The entry level to the percussion gun family with Compex (and lower on the price point) is the Fixx 1.0 or you can go full send an invest in the Fixx 2.0. Either way, both are great options and ideal for those looking for a high quality recovery tool.
2. Jawku Muscle Blaster
There are three versions of the Muscle Blaster massage percussion gun offered by the company Jawku. There are three different price levels of guns and each come with at least three different attachments to get into the muscle facia in the best way possible. If you’re looking for a massage gun that is quiet, has more than 4 hours of battery life, and is extremely light (2.2 lbs or less) for the amount of punch it packs (up to 55dB & 3200 percussions per minute) then opting for a Muscle Blaster (V2, Chrome, or Mini) is the way to go.
3. Hyperice Hypervolt GO and Hypervolt
Massage guns used to be only something physical therapists used in a clinical setting. However, when Hyperice launched the Hypervolt for public use they made a strong name for themselves as one of the best brands when it comes to recovery tools. While products are a little more on the spendy side, and the batter is on the lower side, there are over 5 different products to choose from. If you want a more travel friendly product, opt for the Hypervolt Go. There is no rotating head but with multiple speeds, five different attachments, and a quiet motor, you’ll be sure to relax and work out those kinks in no time.
5. Theragun PRO
If you’re looking for a professional grade percussion therapy tool then Theragun is the way to go with the Theragun PRO. With an industry leading 2-year warranty, rotating arm, 5 hour battery life, Smart App integration, and a customizable speed range, you’ll be able to dig into those sore muscles with ease and enjoyment (believe it or not). Arguably the quietest gun on this list, as well as the most spendy financially, you can have the professional grade relaxation and relief that you pay for right in the comfort and convenience of your home.
4. Yunmai Massage Gun SC
The Yunmai Massage Gun (SC model) brings some serious power with over 3200 RMP and one of the longest battery life totals (7 hours) of all massage guns on the market right now. With low noise vibration of ~45dB and weighing in at less than 2 lbs you can travel and pack light with this percussion gun in tow. Designed to get into that deep muscle facia and tissue in a relaxing way, you can comb through muscle nodules and relax tense muscles. This means less soreness, faster recovery, and getting back to what you love to do more efficiently than before.
The Best Massage Guns: Takeaway
When choosing the best massage gun for you and your body's needs, some of the considerations you might want to keep in mind are things like price, attachments, weight, battery life, size, and noise levels. You'll also want to consider if you can improve your recovery with the basics, like food, sleep, water, and taking the time to stretch before moving into a specialized percussion gun, like the ones listed in this article.
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