The best massage guns might look intense but they are a really effective tool for bringing tired muscles back to life. Also known as percussive therapy, this science-backed home treatment increases blood flow and loosens up tight areas in the body, speeding up recovery and hitting DOMS hard. One study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that using a massage gun could help increase your range of motion (how far you can stretch into a movement) by 20% when used before exercise.
Using a massage gun can also boost circulation and lymphatic drainage, and it’s a great bit of kit to have at home to get rid of aches and pains - especially for people who sit at a desk all day.
“The main thing to be aware of is not to use a massage gun on a pulled muscle or if you’ve suffered an acute muscle strain, as it could make it worse,” explains Ash James, physiotherapist and director of practice and development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
So whether you need a high tech device or a compact and portable product you can throw in your gym bag and take on vacation, the Live Science team has tried and tested some of the best massage guns for this informative guide. Our tester looked at battery life, price, design, durability and accessories, so you can make an informed buying decision.
Read on to find out more about how the best massage guns ranked in our guide, or skip straight to the FAQs to see more about our testing criteria. And if you’re interested in recovery then don’t miss our articles about benefits of massage guns and how to perform trigger point massage.
Best massage guns we tested
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Hypervolt 2’s ergonomic design, ease of use, and Bluetooth connectivity gives a powerful massage experience. Its three speed settings go up to 3200 percussions per minute (PPM), while five attachment heads give you plenty of massage options, from general massage on large areas with the flat or ball heads, to targeting specific muscles with the bullet or fork heads. A cushioned head is also provided for sensitive areas such as the wrists and neck.
The real draw for the Hypervolt 2 is its connected app. Simply power up your massage gun and get to work following one of the many video tutorials available. The Hypervolt 2 automatically changes speeds and powers down in line with the videos, so there’s no fiddling around with buttons.
An in-built pressure indicator is another great extra that allows you to see how much force you’re applying, while a black zippered pouch holds all five attachment heads in one safe place.
The Hypervolt 2 is quick to charge in just a couple of hours, and gives up to three hours of use before needing to be recharged. At 1.8lbs it’s light enough to be transported to work, the gym, or on long-haul flights, and it’s approved as carry-on luggage too.
Easy to use and operate, the Hypervolt 2 is an affordable but effective massage gun that provides a similar experience to market-leading devices such as Theragun, without the expensive outlay.
User reviews of the Hypervolt 2 on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive, with this bit of kit earning 4.5 out of five stars from users. Although a handful of reviewers have claimed that the gun gets rather loud and rattles at the higher settings.
- Read the full Hypervolt 2 review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Theragun Pro is the jewel in the Therabody crown, and it’s no surprise. Its innovative design allows for multiple grip options, while a moveable attachment makes it easier to target hard-to-reach spots around the back and shoulders. Six head attachments and a sleek carry case are also included.
Two rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries provide up to five hours of use, while the gun boasts Bluetooth connectivity to the Therabody app. There are five speed settings and the gun has a stall force of a whopping 60lbs.
The app itself is hard to beat too. Users can connect their device and browse a huge array of video tutorials, routines and exercises to target fatigue, recovery, warm up and injury, as well as lifestyle-related exercises, such as working from home or relaxation.
The app also allows you to perfect the pressure you apply during operation, and adjust your speed settings automatically, taking any worries that you’re not ‘doing it right’ out of the equation.
If you have a big budget and a demanding fitness routine, or you have specific concerns you want to target and resolve with at-home massage, you probably can’t buy better than the Theragun Pro. However, it is heavy. Weighing in at 2.9lbs and fairly bulky in design, it’s not the easiest massage gun to move around the body. Some users report it’s just too big to be effective for them, while others complain that the motor runs too loud during operation.
The Theragun Pro has netted 4.8 out of five stars on the Therabody site, with happy customers praising the perceived therapeutic effects on their muscles aches. A small handful of customers have pointed out that it is rather noisy, but no-one on the site has given the product less than a 4-star review.
- Read the full Theragun Pro review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Lairlux EM03 Deep Tissue Massage Gun uses 20-speed settings and six ergonomically designed attachments to deliver an effective full-body deep tissue massage. This compact handheld device is no bigger than a travel hairdryer, yet packs some serious punch when it comes to drilling into hard-to-reach muscles and bonier body parts. After testing the unit, we rate it highly as one of the best massage guns available, but you might need some assistance to muster some tougher punching power on bigger muscle groups, like your quads and glutes.
This massage gun is lightweight in design and cost and comes neatly tucked away in a travel case with a charger, six individually-shaped heads, and a handy instruction manual for a quick how-to lesson on performing a massage. There’s plenty of life in this model too, as we are still yet to charge it since we tested it. If you’re looking for a travel companion to keep yourself well-oiled on the go, the Lairlux EM03 is up to the task. If you’re after a more industrial model, this won’t be the massage gun for you.
With 4.8 stars out of five on Amazon, it's clear this product has impressed reviewers. A lot of customers claim it has helped with pain relief and muscle aches, although one person has claimed the device has a tendency to overheat and shut down.
- Read our full Lairlux EM03 Deep Tissue Massage Gun review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Hypervolt Go aims to do everything larger massage guns do, with the bonus of being a gun you can throw into your gym bag, briefcase, or hand luggage. It’s super light weight at just 1.3lbs, making it easy to manipulate around the body and use for longer periods, while its slim size and ergonomic handle means it’s perfect for people with smaller hands that find larger massage guns unwieldy.
However, it’s not without its drawbacks. The Hypervolt Go comes with just two attachments – a flat head for larger areas and a bullet head for targeting specific muscles. Both are perfectly fine, but if you want something for sensitive areas, or a fork head for those long calf muscles, you’ll need to purchase them separately.
Quiet during operation, the Hypervolt Go reached a maximum of 54 decibels at its highest setting. That’s around the same as moderate rainfall, so it’s discreet enough to use at the gym, at work, or on a flight.
Users can also download the companion Hyperice app, which features plenty of video tutorials on the best massage techniques, as well as expert advice on improving performance and targeting areas that need more work. Unlike the Hypervolt 2 though, the Go isn’t Bluetooth-enabled, so it doesn’t pair with the app during operation. And it doesn’t feature a pressure sensor, so users will have to decide how much force they need to use themselves.
However, if you’re looking for an attractively designed massage gun that’s light enough to use for long periods without discomfort, the Hypervolt Go is ideal.
The older Hypervolt Go has 4.6 out of five stars on Amazon, with people praising its thorough performance and relatively compact size. One reviewer has bemoaned the lack of attachment heads that come with the package, but most comments are overwhelmingly positive.
- Read the full Hypervolt GO review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Recovapro Lite, like the HoMedics Pro Physio, and the Theragun Pro and Mini, comes with its own carry case. Everything can be packed up and stored neatly away in the case, which also features a soft leather charging mat.
The Recovapro Lite was one of the quietest guns we tested at home, clocking in at just 45 decibels during its lowest setting. That’s just a little louder than a library, so this gun is perfect for using in a quiet gym or at the office.
Sleekly designed, with a choice of colors available, the Recovapro Lite is just 1.5lbs, making it easy to maneuver across the body, or use for an extra long massage session. An ergonomic handle and single button allows users to power it on and off and toggle through one of the five speed settings.
With a top speed of 2800 PPM, the Recovapro Lite isn’t the most powerful massage gun on the market. However, with four attachment heads and ‘omnidirectional’ movement, this gun can get right down into those niggling aches and pains just as well as a more powerful device.
One drawback with the Recovapro Lite is its lack of a companion app, to help users get started on technique, and really get the most out of their massage gun sessions. If an app was readily available to use with the massage gun, the Recovapro would have scored higher for us.
On the Recovapro site, the Lite model has been awarded an impressive 4.8 out of five stars, with reviews coming in from over 1750 individuals. In particular, people seem satisfied with the weight and portability of the device, which allows them to use it on the go.
- Read the full Recovapro Lite review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The HoMedics Pro Physio comes with no fewer than six head attachments, two of which use coolness and warmth to target specific aches and pains. It also comes with a well-designed carry-case, with molded cushioning to pack away the gun, and all the attachments, safely and securely.
The HoMedics Pro Physio comes with three speed settings, from a soothing 2100 PPM to a punishing 3000 PPM. It’s fairly quiet during operation, clocking in at a maximum of 54 decibels, which is no louder than moderate rainfall.
This massage gun was the only one we tested that came with a heated attachment head, so it’s difficult to compare it to others. However, the head was quick to warm up and the extra warmth gave a professional massage experience.
With six attachments to choose from, users will enjoy the variety of massages available with the HoMedics Pro Physio. However, at 2 lbs, the gun itself is fairly heavy compared to other massage guns, and it can get tiring maneuvering it around the body during a long session.
Despite its heft, it’s a well-made, thoughtfully designed piece of kit that should stand the test of time well. Users tend to agree, with many praising the gun for its sturdiness, and ability to ease away aches and pains after exercise, or a day spent hunched at a desk.
One drawback is the fact that there is no companion app or video tutorials for the HoMedics Pro Physio, so users will have to come up with their own tailored routines. However, it does come with a handy user guide that identifies key muscle groups, which attachments to use, and what level of intensity is best. Most people should be able to use this as a good starting point.
This gun has netted 4.8 out of five stars on the Homedics website, which is an impressive score. Combing through the reviews, we found customers praising the device for its therapeutic effects after exercise and its simple operating instructions.
- Read the full HoMedics Pro Physio review
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Theragun Mini promises the Therabody experience in a portable, compact device that you can sling into your gym bag, hand luggage, or even your purse.
At just 1.43 lbs, the Theragun Mini is one of the smallest, lightest massage guns we’ve tried out at home. Its innovative triangular design fits perfectly in your hand, and the accompanying Therabody app can be downloaded and followed in the comfort of your own home. No Bluetooth connectivity, however, means this gun lacks the Smart, connected feel of the much more expensive Theragun Pro.
Available in a range of colors, including black, white, red, desert rose, and a PSG-themed device, the gun is simple and easy to operate, with a single power button powering the device on, and allowing users to toggle between the three speed settings.
It’s not the quietest massage gun you can buy. With a maximum decibel level of 62 decibels, around the same as a washing machine, it could be irritating in a quiet office or gym. Compared to the Hypervolt Go’s maximum of 54 decibels, for example, you might expect a quieter operation from a Theragun device.
With a maximum of 2400 PPM and an amplitude of 12mm, the Theragun Mini is not the most powerful massage gun you can buy either. And with just one head attachment included, it’s fairly simplistic in what it offers. However, users seem to rate it highly, with many praising its portability and convenience, as well as its performance and battery life.
This compact machine has been awarded 4.8 out of five stars on the Therabody website, although it's worth pointing out that's pooled from only 47 reviews. That said, customers are enthusiastic in their praise, claiming that it helps massively with achey legs.
- Read the full Theragun Mini review
How do we test massage guns at Live Science?
We put the best massage guns to the test by using them at home. Each gun was used after a workout session to evaluate how effective it was at alleviating pain and preventing DOMs. We also made sure to test out the full range of settings, features and additional heads, to fully gauge which product offered the best value for money.
How to use a massage gun
It’s vital to learn how to use your massage gun correctly. Incorrect use can result in discomfort, pain, and injury. If your massage gun comes with a connected app that shows you how to use your gun, great. If not, follow our expert tips.
- Get to know your attachments: Most guns come with a selection of head attachments designed for different body areas or for different results. Make sure you’re well acquainted with your head attachments by reading the instructions on use that comes with your massage gun.
- Use before exercise: James explained that massage helps improve blood flow, enabling the muscles to be more prepared for physical activity. “There is also a psychological element to any passive modality such as this which may form part of a ‘pre-exercise ritual,’ enabling the sportsperson to ready their body and mind for performance.”
- And after exercise: Using your massage gun after physical activity “may help improve DOMS by helping the removal of waste products,” said James.
- Start with the lowest intensity: While it may be tempting to go all in and give yourself a good pummelling, most experts advise you to start at the lowest setting and gradually work your way up. That way, you’ll learn which parts of your body can take a little more vibration and which are more sensitive.
- Don’t add unnecessary pressure: Remember that the vibrations or pulsations do all the work for you. Try not to lean the gun into the muscle too much, or you could risk injury. If you want more pressure, ramp up the intensity of your gun instead.
- Move your gun slowly along the muscle: Let the massage gun glide over the muscles, and don’t be tempted to rush the job. It may help to set a timer on your cellphone so that you spend at least 30 seconds on each muscle before moving on.
- Don’t use your gun on bony areas: If you’ve ever run a massage gun along your shin, you’ll know how painful it can be. And it has no effect on these areas either.
- Contact a physiotherapist if pain continues: It’s important to remember that massage guns aren’t medical devices. See a health professional for treatment if you continue to have pains and aches that can’t be relieved by massage.
Do massage guns work?
Despite the increasing popularity of massage guns among fitness enthusiasts, pro-athletes, and their coaches, there isn’t a great deal of research as to how effective they are. However, this is slowly changing.
In 2021, a literature review by the University of Winchester, United Kingdom, looked at 39 studies of massage guns. It found that handheld percussive massage devices are the most effective method of increasing lower limb range of motion compared to other methods such as foam rolling or manual vibration therapy. It also found that using massage guns after exercise can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and even be part of a rehabilitation program following injury.
Another study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that using a percussive massage gun (Hypervolt) for five minutes on the calf muscles during warm-up increased the range of motion during subsequent exercise. A 2021 systematic review found a similar result – that using a Theragun massage gun could increase the range of motion for a short period following use. So it’s possible to get more from your workout by including your massage gun in your warm-up routine.
However, one case study concerning a female athlete has caused concern around the use of massage guns. A Chinese athlete developed rhabdomyolysis after massage gun therapy from a coach. This serious, sometimes fatal, condition happens when muscle tissue releases proteins and electrolytes into the blood.
Researchers agree there is a considerable gap in the literature around massage guns. We need more studies to understand how effective they can be and whether there are any possible dangers to using massage guns for specific individuals.
We spoke to physiotherapist Ash James, Director of Practice and Development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, for his take on whether massage guns work.
“The research in this area is very much in its infancy because these products are still fairly new,” James told Live Science. “The evidence suggests that localized vibration may improve DOMS but only marginally. So we don’t have evidence of whether localized vibration is any better than passive recovery techniques such as massage or cold therapy.”
James had other advice if you’re not keen on using a massage gun. “Active recovery methods, such as walking or peddling on a static bike, have much stronger evidence of effectiveness for recovery following exercise.”
What are the main differences between Theragun vs Hypervolt?
Research has found that Theragun and Hypervolt increase range of motion in two separate large-scale literature reviews. So on that front, they’re pretty similar. However, to date, we could find no research that directly compared the two devices, other than user reviews.
The Theragun Pro and the Hypervolt 2 Pro offer similar features, such as a connected app, Bluetooth connectivity to other fitness apps, and a wide selection of routines to follow. However, having tested both the Theragun and Hypervolt guns as part of our expert buyer’s guide, here are the main differences we’ve identified between the two brands:
- Theragun is more expensive: Theragun is the premium brand in the massage gun market and comes at a premium price. So you can expect to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars more for a Theragun than you do for a similar Hypervolt massage gun.
- Hypervolt is lighter: Compared to the Theragun Pro, which weighs in at 2.9 lbs, the Hyervolt 2 Pro is more lightweight at 2.6 lbs, and the Hypervolt 2 is just 1.8 lbs. However, mini versions of both guns, the Hypervolt Go and the Theragun Mini, are around the same weight.
- Theragun includes a carry case: The Theragun Pro features a handy carry case designed to safely carry your gun and all the attachments heads. Unfortunately, the Hypervolt 2 lacks this extra feature, but the Hypervolt 2 Pro does have a case for the head attachments.
- Theragun battery lasts longer: The Theragun comes with 2 batteries giving a total of 5 hours of continuous usage, while the Hypervolt 2 lasts for 3 hours.
- Hypervolt has a higher intensity: Both brands’ premium guns have 5 settings, with the Theragun ranging from 1750 percussions per minute (PPM) to 2400PPM. The Hypervolt 2 Pro tops out at 3200PPM. Despite having a lower maximum PPM, Therabody says its gun has a 16mm amplitude that reaches 60% deeper into muscles than other massage devices.
How to choose the best massage gun
There is a huge variety of massage guns on the market, with new ones appearing all the time. Some devices feature heated attachments, while others connect to bespoke apps that show you how to get the right massage technique at home.
So how do you know what to look for, before splashing out on one that could potentially cost hundreds of dollars? Here are the key features to know about:
Speed (PPM) or power
When it comes to selecting a massage gun, look for one that provides you with a range of speeds or powers, especially if you’re a newcomer to percussive massage.
Size and weight
If you have small hands, limited mobility, or weak upper body strength, you may want to opt for a lighter device that you can handle more easily and for longer periods. An ergonomically-designed handle will also help you grasp the device and allow you to use it more effectively.
If you want to take your massage gun to the gym, work, or even take it on a long-haul flight, make sure it’s portable. A carry case or bag is a good extra to look for, and if you’re taking it on a flight, make sure it’s approved for carry-on luggage.
Additional attachment heads
A good range of attachments will allow you to work larger areas of muscle, as well as targeting niggles. Ideally you’ll want at least two – a flat or ball head for use across most muscle groups, and one for getting into specific areas, such as a bullet head. Cushioned heads are also great for tender areas around the neck and shoulders, while forked heads are just right for straddling those long muscles in the calves and thighs.
Ash James is currently the director of practice and development for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. James has worked clinically in multiple MSK backgrounds during his career including private and independent practice. Throughout the last 10 years he has also been involved in education, leadership and research. Scroll down to see his tips and advice on massage guns.
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Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She mainly creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with a number of global sites, including BabyCentre UK, Medical News Today, Fit & Well, Top Ten Reviews, and Yahoo!