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Rest and recovery are critical parts of training for athletes and fitness buffs alike—and massage guns are at the forefront of at-home athletic recovery. Not only do massage guns promise to help relieve your sore muscles, but they can actually help improve circulation and your range of motion after tough workouts. They're more compact than a foam roller, and pack way more punch when it comes to targeting your muscles. (If it's your neck that's giving you issues in particular, here are our six picks for the best neck massagers.)
But let's be real: The massage gun market has become totally saturated. And with so many options out there, it might be hard to decipher which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. (Although if you really want to save some dough, you can attempt to turn a jigsaw into your very own massage gun. This guy did.)
If you're totally new to how massage guns works (and how to use them), physical therapist and The Ready State founder Kelly Starrett told Men's Health some of his top tips on how to best utilize your massage gun. His best guidance: Use your own movement while deploying the gun.
"One of the things you can do right away if you're using this in a painful site is to get as much movement into the tissue you're trying to change as possible," he says. "Sometimes we just need to feel better, and that's good enough. But I can do a lot to bias the tissues by giving it some movement."
Here's what you need to know about percussion massage guns so you can to incorporate them into your own routine.
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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.
The Best Percussion Massagers in 2022
With these priorities and wish lists in mind, the below massage guns represent some of the best options on the market in 2022—including a deep dive into different models from Theragun and Hyperice, the two most popular massage gun brands out there.
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Most Powerful: Theragun PRO
Theragun's latest model is a humdinger. The 4th generation Theragun PRO includes a 300-minute battery life, a rotating arm, and an ergonomic grip. It also features four different arm positions and six attachments, plus five different percussion settings: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2400 percussions per minute, with up to 60 pounds of force. Unlike other Thergaun models, 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 for good measure. Phew!
Best Looking: Theragun Mini
This pocket-sized model is perfect for transport and portability. If you like to use your massage gun while you're still at the gym or otherwise on the go, this is the one for you. It weighs a total of 1.43 pounds and has 150 minutes of battery life with three different speed settings (1750, 2100, and 2400) and one attachment.
Best for Travel: Hypervolt Go 2
Hyperice’s updated mini massage gun fits easily in any purse or backpack, and at just 1.5 pounds, it never weighs you down. But it still gets three hours on a single charge, delivers three different intensities, and has multiple attachments to attack different muscle groups.
Most User-Friendly: Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro
The new Hypervolt 2 Pro is Hyperice's premiere massage gun. It has the strongest percussion technology of all their devices, complete with a brushless high-torque 90W motor. It's shaped like a pill for a comfortable grip and weighs just 2.6 pounds. It features five different percussion speeds which you can effortlessly transition between using the 2 Pro's new digital speed dial. Like other models, it also connects via Bluetooth to the Hyperice app.
While the Theragun Elite model is a slightly smaller option compared to the PRO, it still packs all the punch needed to provide quick relief to even the sorest of muscles. It has five different percussion settings and deploys up to 40 pounds of force. It comes with five attachments and has a 120-minute battery life. It's also integrated with the Therabody app via Bluetooth and OLED display.
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Hyperice Hypervolt 2
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. It has three different percussion speeds and five different head attachments to vary your experience. Plus, Hyperice's motors are extremely quiet allowing for a peaceful massage experience.
How We Selected
For the past two years, we consulted with Men's Health's Fitness editors and writers on the top massage guns. Experts including our fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and fitness editor Brett Williams, NASM, dozens of massage guns through the wringer to evaluate their durability and effectiveness. We also considered top-reviewed massage guns that had at least 100 five-star customer ratings on e-commerce websites that we trust.
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.
“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 says he also can’t have guns dying in the middle of treatment. He says that he expects a massage 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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