The Sportneer has five speed settings and six attachments, and is ideal for someone who is on a tight budget, wants multiple levels of power, but isn’t looking for something to get deep into their muscles.
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 products, ranging in price from $159 to $500 to find the best ones for your money. Our favourite: 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.
Therabody Theragun Elite
Like "Kleenex" is to tissues and "Peloton" is to exercise bikes, there is a reason why the term "Theragun" is synonymous with massage guns as a whole—it’s amazing at what it does. From its ergonomic design to the educational Therabody app, and even to its sleek, professional-looking packaging, Theragun has all of its bases covered. Featuring five speeds, five attachments, and a handle that makes it easy to reach most places on the body, it is the top massage gun on the market.
When I tested the original Theragun G3 model last year (which is no longer available), one of my main complaints was that it sounded like a jackhammer on your body. The Theragun Elite tones down the noise—it still isn’t quiet, but while using the most intense setting, you won’t have people coming from another room asking if construction is happening outside. Its five-speed levels and attachments provide a wide range of sensations and pressure levels that should satisfy everyone from the professional athlete to the casual runner. It also has a triangular ergonomic handle that sets it apart from the rest. Other guns’ handles don’t fit as easily in the hand, which makes reaching the back, neck, and shoulders tough, but the Theragun’s handle lets you get to those spots with ease. It's also simple to go up or down intensity settings, with the small control panel at the top of the gun that can easily be toggled with your thumb while you massage your muscles, while most other massage tools require cycling through all the settings to get to previous ones.
The biggest gamechanger that this product offers is Bluetooth capability with the Therabody app. The app connects to your Theragun and offers preset programs, so all you have to do is pick a warm-up or recovery treatment and the settings automatically ‘play’ right on the Theragun. When you go into the app, you can choose from different warm-ups and cool-downs for specific sports, like running, cycling, or yoga (just to name a few). You can also look for treatments that will help you with specific muscle issues, like carpal tunnel, sciatica, even “tech neck” (or neck pain caused by gazing downward at computers and phones for long periods of time), which is a lifesaver if you work at a desk all day. From there, you click on the treatment, make sure your Theragun is on, and the app guides you through. It shows you where on your body you should hold the Theragun, how you should be moving it, how to hold the handle, and for how long you should keep it pressed to your muscles. If the recommended pressure is too much for you, you can tweak the intensity from the app with more nuance then you get from pressing the buttons on Theragun. The app also suggests the ideal amount of force and what attachments you should be using while targeting certain muscle groups.
A few tiny downsides: I sometimes experienced small issues with the app, with pictures not loading or having to restart the entire treatment session after it shut off when I tried to switch attachments. Still, even though it isn’t perfect, it’s close enough for me to think it’s the best massage gun out there.
All in all, this experience blew me away, as it took all the guesswork out of the massage. The app made me feel like I had a health and wellness coach at home, with videos, straightforward images, and helpful information posted. All that makes it more than worth its higher-than-most price. When it comes to the Theragun Elite, you definitely get what you pay for.
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 endeavours 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.
In other words, if you’ve ever used a foam roller, you can expect a similar effect, but levelled 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 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 products 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.
Other Massage Guns We Tested
The Hypervolt looks like a cross between a hairdryer and a power drill. To me, that shape—which sometimes made it difficult to reach certain parts of my body—is the only thing that makes the gun inferior to the Theragun. The first thing that stood out to me, especially in comparison to the Theragun, was how quiet the Hypervolt is, despite its power. At max speed, this machine is faster than the Theragun—3,200 PPM versus the max of Theragun’s 2,400 PPM—but my muscles didn’t feel like they experienced any more force. Even though it only has three-speed settings (compared to the Vybe Pro, which has nine), each one hit on every amount of force I needed for recovery. It comes with five attachments, on par with Theragun.
Much like the Theragun, Hyperice has an app that goes along with the Hypervolt, where you watch videos that show you how to properly use your Hypervolt and follow along with warm-ups and cool-downs that target specific workouts and muscles.
We did not test the Bluetooth version of the Hypervolt, as it wasn’t available during our testing. But according to staff members who personally own the Bluetooth version, some of the highlights include being able to sync your Strava, Garmin, and Apple Health data to the app, which allows it to give you personalized recommendations based on the workout you just completed. Like the Theragun, you can select a warm-up, cool-down, or recovery treatment on the app, and the settings will automatically play on the Hypervolt. You can select treatments that focus on specific muscle groups, or general treatments that target the full body like “Work From Home Flow” or “Nighttime Relief.”
Hypervolt has one other annoying issue, though. Unlike every other massage gun we tested, it doesn't come with a carrying case—you have to purchase it separately. This is a small issue, but I found it irksome, especially because the Hypervolt is one of the pricier massage guns and would be enough for me to avoid buying it on principle.
The Theragun Mini has just one attachment and three-speed settings, but it packs a big punch in a small package. This was the most unique-looking product we tested, with an ergonomic design that fits in the palm of your hand without feeling awkward. Because it’s significantly smaller than the other massage tools we tested, if you’re looking for something to travel with or throw in your gym bag, this is your answer. While you can still benefit from using the Therabody app with the Mini, with plenty of videos showing you what muscle groups to massage depending on your needs, it does not have Bluetooth capability like the Theragun Elite, so it doesn’t automatically adjust to the perfect speed or tell you how you should be holding the massage gun.
Out of all the Theragun tools, the Mini offers the least bells and whistles. You can attach any Theragun attachments to it, but the Mini itself only comes with one attachment, so you have to own another Theragun massage gun as well if you wanted to have different attachment heads. Much like the Theragun Elite, this massage gun can be easily maneuvered to massage your back and shoulders, and it provides plenty of control wherever you use it.
Although three-speed levels might seem not enough compared to what other massage tools have to offer, I felt that each level got the job done, and had enough distinction between them that I felt satisfied every time I adjusted it. If you’re looking for something small and basic, the Theragun Mini is a great choice, especially if you want to have something with the Theragun name without forking over $400 for its other products. However, if you want to spend a little less, and gain a little more without the sparkle of a hot brand name, there are better options out there.
The Ekrin B37, with its five speeds and four attachments, performed pretty fine if not outstandingly throughout testing. The speeds each offer a decent enough massage, and the sound isn’t too overpowering, giving it a middle-of-the-road experience. The main drawback of the B37 is that the button to adjust levels of pressure rests on the top of the gun, making it impossible to change speeds with one hand if you’re holding the gun at the bottom of the L-shaped handle.
Having to change speeds with two hands may not be the biggest inconvenience, but that knocked it down a few notches in our book, as other massage guns have perfected one-handed controls. Another minor flaw is that it requires you to churn through all of its speeds if you want to go down to a lower one because the one button on the gun only allows you to go up.
The Sportneer has five-speed settings and six attachments, two of which are made of metal and specifically for use with oils (which no others in our test offered). I tried using the metal attachments with essential oils, and the experience was just OK. What I mainly enjoyed was that the metal attachments were cool to the touch, which was a welcome sensation after a long, sweaty run. It was also much more gentle than other guns I tested—so, while it didn’t offer the intense pressure I sometimes wanted, it was the massage gun I reached for when my muscles were so tender, I didn’t even want to foam-roll.
Putting on the lowest setting, then gradually working my way up, the Sportneer was best when I was using it for light pressure on sore spots. Though it offers speeds up to 3,200 PPM, it does not offer as much force, making it one of the quieter guns we tested. I also found I had to recharge it more than others. This is ideal for someone who is on a tight budget, wants multiple levels of power, but isn’t looking for something to get deep into their muscles.
The FlyBy is the most basic of all of the massage guns we tested. With three speeds and six attachments, it’s a solid option for someone who is looking for a gentle massage every now and then, as opposed to an athlete who really needs to work out sore muscles regularly. The first level of pressure claims to be 1,800 PPM, which is pretty standard when it comes to the first levels out of all the massage guns tested, but it felt significantly weaker compared to the other ones we tried. However, the sound doesn’t overpower you as you go through each speed level. Even the packaging was more basic than others and didn’t include any directions. Still, if you have a smaller budget, don’t want deep pressure of any sort, and don’t mind doing some Googling to figure out best practices for using a massage gun, this is the one for you.
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