Massage guns reduce muscle inflammation and muscle tightness so you can feel amazing and recover faster!
Check out some of our favorite massage guns and other resources on how to use your massage gun to achieve the best results.
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What is Percussion Massage Therapy?
Percussion massage therapy is a type of massage that delivers a series of rapid blows, strikes and vibrations that penetrate deep into your muscles to promote pain-relief, relaxation, and soft tissue repair. When done properly, this type of massage improves your blood flow and muscle range-of-motion.
Percussion massage therapy is nothing new. It has been around for a long time and it is a technique that has been used by professional massage therapists in some types of massage.
The popularity of percussion massage therapy has exploded in recent years due to the invention of the percussion massage gun, which looks more like an electric drill than a massage device. Massage guns, like the Theragun, or Hypervolt are handheld personal massagers that are used all over the world by professional and recreational athletes.
What Do Massage Guns Do?
Percussion massage guns are handheld devices that apply targeted pulse vibrations and rapid strikes to a target area like your legs, shoulders, neck and back. Percussion massage mimics soft tissue massage that massage therapists often apply to trouble areas.
Here are just some of the benefits of using a massage gun:
Do Massage Guns Work?
When massage guns first hit the market, we were skeptical. I mean, look at them. They look like a power drill. We were thinking are these just another health and fitness gimmick, or do they really work?
After trying one out at a local fitness conference, and doing our own research that answer is YES. However, not all massage guns are made the same, and have the power to do the job. What also helped convince us is the sheer number of athletic trainers and physical therapists also using the device as a tool to help their athletes recover.
So what does the research say? In one study we looked at, 45 females were broken up into three groups.
- Group A: Received traditional massage therapy from a licensed massage therapist
- Group B: Received percussion therapy
- Group C: Control group (e.g. did not receive anything)
So prior to and immediately after the therapy, each group was measured for soreness and perceived pain, range of motion, and maximum isometric force (strength of a muscle in a fixed position without muscle contraction). They were again tested 24 hours and again at 48 hours post exercise which is the peak period for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. A one-rep maximum strength test, and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and Cretain Kinase (CK) levels were measured prior to exercise and 48 hours after exercise only. These latter tests look for enzymes in the muscle cells and can help determine how hard a muscle worked or is damaged as a result of exercise.
So the results showed:
- Both traditional massage therapy and percussion/vibration therapy were both equal (statistically close) in their ability to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. This alone makes massage guns an amazing tool for your recovery.
- Massage therapy was a little bit better at recovering strength.
- The percussion/vibration group saw significant reduction in Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) after 48 hours. This is huge in terms of indicating rapid healing over those in the control group that did not use a massage gun.
The biggest advantage of using massage gunsis in the increased blood flow to the area. Improved blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients to the injured area, as well as helps remove metabolic waste that was created as a result of the muscle breakdown during use.
Are Massage Guns Worth It?
A good quality massage gun can cost a couple hundred dollars and a top end consumer/pro model can run upwards of $400-$600 dollars. This can scare a lot of people away. But let's put that in perspective.
Sports Massage vs. Massage Guns Return on Investment
The average cost for a sports massage in the United States is $80.00/hour.
While we are not saying this device can replace all the things a high quality licensed massage therapist can do, you can get many of the same benefits but in the comfort of your own home.
A high quality massage gun can give you a positive return on investment in just a few times of usage.
Unlike foam rollers and other types of self-myofascial release tools, massage guns can hyper-target a specific target area and in most cases, can be applied easier than foam rolling alone.
Our Top 3 Highest Rated Massage Guns
Before we jump into our detailed reviews, it is important to note that you can find a wide range of massage guns that come in a wide range of prices. Just a quick search on Amazon revealed hundreds of massage guns from dozens of brands. To save you time, here are our top 3 massage guns based on quality and effectiveness.
1. Hyperice Hypervolt
The Hyperice Hypervolt recently jumped up over the Theragun G3 and G3Pro as our preferred massage gun. While the Theragun sets the standard, the Hypervolt is right there with it in terms of quality and features and is actually preferred by many sports therapists over the Theragun due to it's quiet 3 speed motor and longer battery life (about 3 hours). It is very well built and reliable. If you are looking for the best massage gun out there, this is our #1 pick across all models we have tested to date.
2. Theragun G3
The Theragun G3 and it's big brother, the Theragun G3 Pro came in as a tie for our second pick. In fact, until recently it was our first pick! It was neck and neck with the Hypervolt and honestly it is a toss up between the two but after using the Hypervolt a little more, we have grown to prefer it slightly over the Theragun.
The Theragun is a high quality massage gun and is one of the most trusted brands in the industry. Their product line is used by hundreds of professional and collegiate sports teams as well as thousands of athletes, physical therapists, athletic trainers and fitness enthusiasts. We actually prefer the lower setting over the higher setting, but it is nice knowing that we could get more out of it if needed. This one doesn't stall out like some cheaper models do.
The reason we put two theragun models in at second place is that while similar, there are some differences between the Theragun G3 and G3pro depending on your buyer profile. One is a home consumer model and the other is for the prosumer or professional market.
3. Opove M3 Pro
If the price of the Theragun and Hypervolt are outside your budget, the Opove M3 Pro is a nice alternative. While not as powerful as the others, it will work with more moderate usage. The Opove M3 Pro looks eerily similar to the Hypervolt. In fact almost too close.
We did find that the Opove M3 Pro had a tendency to overheat with extended use causing it to shut down until it cools. Overall build quality was less than the Hypervolt and Theragun, especially when comparing them side by side, but the Opove M3 Pro did do the job most of the time and made a solid impression for the lower price-ranged massage guns.
How To Use A Massage Gun
The best way to see a massage gun in action is to look at some videos on how they are used. Theragun's YouTube channel has a wealth of videos that you can view to learn how to use your massage gun properly.