Best massage gun 2020
Odds are, if you’re doing anything that puts strain on your muscles, you could benefit from owning a massage gun.
Massage guns, or percussion massagers, are handheld devices that perform what's known as percussive or vibration therapy on your muscles. This type of therapy sends rapid bursts of pressure into muscle tissue, increasing blood flow and relieving tension throughout your body.
With so many percussive massage guns on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you and your needs. That’s why we tested five popular massage guns: Theragun PRO, Theragun Mini, Hyperice Hypervolt, and the PlayMakar MVP Percussion Massager.
Among other things, we wanted to see which ones were easiest to use, which were overhyped, and which offered the best bang for your buck. Here’s what we found.
How to use a massage gun
Before deciding which massage gun to buy, it’s important to know what you’ll use it for.
Massage guns are less about improving your performance and more about facilitating a comfortable recovery. When you use one as part of a holistic process that includes regular stretching, yoga, and other good recovery habits (like eating well), you’ll feel better as you work out — even if you experience a good deal of pain or discomfort after exercise.
However, that doesn’t mean massage guns are just for athletes; they’re great for relieving muscle pain generally. If you work at a desk, you may feel tightness in your upper back and neck area. This tool will help with that. The best models will also offer a more toned-down setting that can help relieve anxiety-induced tension in your jaw, for example.
Theragun has been a mainstay in the percussion massage gun space for about a decade. We found their popularity to be justified. Of all the models we tested, we thought the Theragun PRO and G3PRO were closest to providing the kind of relief you’d get at an actual professional massage. The triangle-shaped handles on the two models made them the only massage guns we found that we could leverage to get deep muscle relief on a hard-to-reach area like the lower back.
Theragun PRO: $599 at Therabody
If you’re looking for control, Theragun’s new PRO model is leaps and bounds ahead of the brand’s more affordable offerings. It has a ton of variability in how fast it delivers the blows, meaning we could max it out on tight back muscles and dial it down for sensitive areas like our jaw. We also appreciated the adjustable arm, because it made reaching our lower back (a main problem area for those who work desk jobs, play golf, cycle, etc.) much easier. It also seemed to provide a deeper massage than other models, especially to larger muscles like our thighs.
Theragun Mini: $199 at Therabody
While the Theragun Mini would make a nice addition to a set including a full-size percussion massager, we don’t think it works well as a standalone device. The main reason is the handle: Without the triangular grip, we found it lacked the leverage and control that make the other Theragun models great. Still, this model might be great for college-aged people who want to save money and aren’t necessarily worried about getting particularly deep muscle relief, or for people who like to continue their exercise regimen when they travel.
Hyperice Hypervolt review
If the triangle-shaped handles just don’t do it for you, or you want to see what else the percussive massage gun industry has to offer, you’ve got a few options. The Hypervolt from Hyperice is another popular model with its own benefits: it’s cheaper and quieter than the Theragun PRO.
Hyperice Hypervolt: $279 at Amazon (was $349)
The Hypervolt’s big selling point is that it’s super quiet, and we found this to be true. Of all the models we tested, the Hypervolt was quietest. Beyond that, its simple design is great for first-time users, and it’s incredibly easy to use and to transport.
When it came time to actually use Hypervolt, it worked well — we were able to achieve a fairly deep tissue massage. The round attachment is great for those who are sensitive to pain, and the fork works well on forearms if you experience tightness after a long day on the computer.
Hyperice vs. Theragun
At $279, the Hypervolt is a mid-range massage gun, and we thought that price was good for what you’re getting. In many ways, we thought it held its own against Theragun models that are twice as expensive; for example, it’s even quieter than the much-more-expensive Theragun PRO. Still, the handle isn’t quite as good as the Theragun’s, and as a result, we weren’t able to achieve quite as deep of a massage.
PlayMakar MVP review
If you aren’t ready to invest in one of the more well-known massage gun brands, the PlayMakar MVP might be your best bet.
PlayMakar MVP Percussion Massager: $169 at PlayMakar (was $299.95)
If you’re looking for something that provides muscle relief at an affordable price, the PlayMakar MVP Percussion Massager is a good option. It’s straightforward enough that we’re confident anyone could use it, making its functionality and price point ideal for beginners.
We especially loved the variety of massage heads on this model. We found that the flat head worked well on flat areas like thighs, the round head was great for backs and necks, and the fork attachment was perfect for relieving forearm tension.
Our overall assessment is that this is a solid entry-level massage gun for those who are unsure whether they need one or not. This model is cheap enough that you’re not making a major investment, but it’s still durable enough to last.
If you’re okay with paying a premium price for a premium massage gun, we think the Theragun PRO is well worth the investment. Even with its hefty price tag, the cost felt justified as soon as we started using it. The handle design offers the most leverage of all the models we tested, and the overall shape makes it easy to maneuver around shoulders, lower back, and other hard-to-reach places.
Best massage gun 2020
Of all the models we tested, the Theragun PRO was the all-around best model when it came to ease of use, overall design, and quietness.
Best budget massage guns 2020
The Hyperice Hypervolt was a good mid-tier option, offering fairly deep muscle relief at an impressively low volume. Still, the leverage isn’t as good as that of the Theragun’s and it’s more expensive than the PlayMakar. PlayMakar’s MVP is a decent budget pick for those looking for muscle relief without a hefty initial investment.
Our least favorite massage gun
We don’t recommend the Theragun Mini for most users. The oddly-shaped handle and small size make it difficult to relieve tension in hard-to-reach places, and while it’s strong, it lacks the control of its more-expensive counterparts. Still, it’s a good budget option for younger users who aren’t concerned about deep muscle relief.
Landon Groves is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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