Every now and then the fitness industry sees the latest ‘must have’ fad that takes over in gyms, is plastered all over social media and is featured on every online fitness store. Massage guns could very well fit this criteria in as much as that over recent months they have become one of the go to recovery tools and seem to be the talk of Instagram.
There is one very key difference though.
Rather than being a fad that will likely fizzle out due to over hype, they are actually more than likely here to stay – and that is because they really can be an excellent training aid.
Whether you are looking to prepare your muscles for a big lifting sesh or whether you are looking to relieve the onset of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after going big at the gym – massage guns can play a vital role in keeping you in tip top shape.
As always, there is a range in quality and functionality, but the best massage guns are easy to use, effective and don’t have to break the bank. Most muscles can be targeted with self use of a massage gun whereas harder to reach areas might need a partner to assist – but one thing is for sure – massage guns could see the end of the foam roller for good.
Although the scientific research backing massage guns is still limited there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest they are a step up from the good old foam roller. We should know, after spending 30 days testing out 10 different massage guns we have been able to compile our top 5 and bring you our best massage guns list. Before we bring you the results, let’s just delve a little deeper in to these hand held deep tissue massagers.
How Do Massage Guns Work?
To gain a better understanding of how massage guns work we can look to their technical name – percussion therapy devices. Percussion or percussive therapy is essentially a type of massage that is delivered through a series of heavy blows to the outer body that delivers deep penetration that you can target your muscles with.
Percussion therapy has traditionally been delivered by a sports massage therapist using a series of sharp strikes using the hands and fingers. But with the development of massage guns, this type of therapy can now be self administered with little to no training required. The massage gun works using the same principles of standard percussion therapy in as much as it delivers repeated blows to the outer tissue to help penetrate deep in to the muscles.
What Are The Benefits Of Percussion Therapy?
There are a wide range of benefits to using a massage gun with the main one being that it will likely lead to much quicker recovery times for your muscles and will also help to loosen up tight muscles to enable you to train harder and for longer. Percussion therapy is proven to improve blood circulation to the muscles, improve lymphatic drainage (which helps remove toxins and waste from muscle tissue) and will lead to an improvement in mobility and a greater range of motion.
If you have affordable access to a qualified sports massage therapist then this is still going to be marginally better than using a massage gun in our experience, but being able to self administer percussion therapy on a daily basis or even just two or three times per week can have serious long term benefits as well as short term relief from the dreaded DOMS – this alone is a great reason to buy a massage gun.
Top 6 Massage Guns
Now we are fully versed in the benefits of percussion therapy let’s take a look at our top 6 massage guns currently available in the UK.
Addsfit Massage Gun
The Addsfit Massage Gun is much more budget friendly than the Theragun Pro but still packs a good punch and has some high level features that are typically found on higher priced models. It comes with a handy travel/storage case and has a huge capacity 2500mAH lithium-ion battery that is capable of a claimed 6 hours of battery life. We found that using the Addsfit on a range of speeds there was more like 4-5 hours of battery life but this is more than sufficient for most people and is likely to provide a week’s worth of usage at least.
Despite having 1700-3300 percussions per minute and 9 different speed levels, the Addsfit was one of the quietest massage guns we tested. In fact, it operates at 39 decibels or less thanks to a noise resistant casing. The battery forms the main handle and is ergonomically designed for comfort. It is a little thicker to grip than some other models which might be more problematic for people with smaller hands but the overall comfort level thanks to the rubber grip is very good indeed.
The Addsfit comes with 5 head attachments all of which are designed to be used on different parts of the body. The quality of these attachments is exceptional as they are made from a breathable silicone with anti-perspiration properties.
Changing the force and speed is very easy with an LED display to the rear to indicate the level you are at and the range of force is equally impressive. The results in muscle relief experienced as a result of using the Addsfit Massage Gun were very impressive and it really does help to loosen up tight muscles. You could use it after every strenuous workout to target the muscles used and you will almost definitely enjoy faster recovery times and be in less discomfort following gruelling sessions in the gym or after playing sports.
This massage gun is also backed by an impressive three year warranty and offers the perfect balance of affordability and high performance.
Our top pick when it comes to massage guns might not be the cheapest option but it is without a doubt the best we tested. The 4th generation model of the Theragun PRO features a professional grade motor that is powered by QuietForce technology. The QX150 motor promises to deliver 60% deeper percussions than the lower powered motors that the cheaper massage guns offer and it really does the job effectively.
Like most of the Theragun models, the PRO features a simple design and an OLED screen to the top of the massage gun. This is handily positioned (with many other models having the display to the rear) as you can easily see it when using it. The PRO can also be handled from a variety of grip positions which makes it easier to target those hard to reach locations even when operating solo.
The Theragun PRO comes with two lithium-ion batteries and each one can provide 2.5 hours of charge which means charging once per week will be more than ample for most people. This model also connects to a smartphone app using bluetooth which provides greater functionality as well as insights into your usage and behaviours.
The speed and force is of course changeable with the PRO having a range of 1750-2400 PPM.
One really key feature that sets the PRO apart from other models is that the arm that houses the massager can rotate and move to multiple positions which again helps in targeting hard to reach areas and makes it much more comfortable to use. There are 6 different attachments in all which can be used to target different parts of the body and they are quick and easy to change from one to the other.
The Theragun PRO was the easiest of all the models to use, had the greatest impact in terms of muscle pain relief and we have every reason to believe that the claims made surrounding 60% deeper massage are fully founded.
If you are looking for the best massage gun on the market and price is no barrier then the Theragun PRO is without a doubt our top choice. If you use it just once per week instead of your usual sports massage then it will pay for itself within 6 months and will be one of the best investments in yourself you can make.
The Theragun Elite (4th Generation) is our second offering from Theragun who really have become market leaders in the self percussion therapy market. This is still a relatively expensive model which is one of the main reasons it doesn’t make it higher on the list but compared to the PRO model it is excellent value for money.
Having the same bluetooth app connectivity as the PRO, the Elite model offers all the benefits of tracking progress and managing massage behaviours as its higher priced brother, but with some of the frills removed such as the additional battery and a slightly less powerful motor (QX65 as opposed to the QX150) it offers a more affordable purchase. In testing, we found the results obtained with the Theragun Elite were almost comparable to the PRO and if it is being used within the home then the single battery is not really an issue. You can expect to get around 2 hours of battery life from a single charge which is enough for 20-30 minutes per day 4-5 times per week – ample for most people!
You still get the OLED screen and the multi-grip design but you do lose the handy rotatable arm positions. That being said, the Elite is an excellent massage gun that is one of the most comfortable to manage and is very quiet in operation.
Using the Theragun Elite is easy to do and the added app connectivity and the wellness routines that come with it are well worth the time exploring. We had really good recovery results after using the Elite model and it is highly recommended.
Hydragun Massage Gun
The Hydragun is in our opinion the best massage gun available in the UK today without spending in excess of £500. Although it is certainly not at the cheap end of the spectrum, the current price is not only affordable but this massage gun is highly effective and extremely well designed which means it is one of the most comfortable to grip.
The Hydragun comes with 6 massage head attachments and each one is designed to be used for slightly different purposes or to target specific types of muscles. It comes with 4 plastic heads and 2 metal heads which offer a harder massage. Designed to be used over the entire body, the Hydragun is backed by a wealth of research conducted by the company and they share this with you through what they call Hydrareads – and this level of commitment to engaging with their users is one element that sets this company apart from the rest.
Thanks to the science and research backed team that have created the Hydragun, it is fair to say that this is an excellent example of mobile percussion therapy and the Hydragun gives the likes of Theragun a real run for their money – and at around half the price. It has some excellent tech specs and is down right easy to use – not only that, but you can use it pre-workout, post-workout and even during the rest periods of your actual workout if you are working out at home (or feel like taking it with you to the gym).
This massage gun has 6 hours of battery life thanks to the powerful lithium-ion battery that is part of the main unit. The downside here is that you can’t buy spare batteries but the plus side is that for personal use or even professional use, you will have more than enough juice to keep you going. Hydragun recommend you use it 2 to 3 times per day for 10 to 15 minutes for optimal results.
The biggest issue many people have with a massage gun is how to access those hard to reach places like the lower and upper back. The handle on the Hydragun has been perfectly designed at an angle of 99 degrees. This makes it ideal for reaching all parts of the body and it is not too heavy to make this uncomfortable which means there is minimal strain on the wrists.
Operation is simple. You have 6 gears (speeds) which are displayed via LEDs on the rear of the device and there is also a battery level display as well as a torque meter which shows how much pressure you are applying. The speeds range from 1300RPM to 3200RPM and believe us, you will want to start off on the lowest setting and build up if comfortable to do so.
The Hydragun is quiet in operation with a 30-50 decibel noise level which is just about the noise level you would get from a refrigerator. It is made from aerospace grade aluminium and comes with an 18 month warranty for added peace of mind. This is a solid piece of kit that really helps with muscle recovery as well as helping to warm muscles up before a workout.
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Hyperice Hypervolt Plus
The Hypervolt Plus is the latest addition to the Hyperice range and we had heard good things about its predecessor – the Hypervolt. The Plus model promises a little more thanks to its improved 90W brushless motor that provides deeper percussions that ultimately leads to improved circulation and release of tension.
The Hypervolt Plus is designed for professional users and elite athletes and as such it has a higher price tag than you might expect. That being said, it can be used by anyone and requires no formal training to get great results from it. This massage gun is quiet to use and offers a good level of comfort with not too much vibration being felt in the hands when in use. It provides a range from 2000PPM to 3200PPM and has 5 attachment heads that are all smooth to the touch and firm enough to provide a good massage.
This model comes with one lithium-ion battery (24V) and you should expect a total running time of 150 minutes from a single charge which is more than enough for home use. Professionals might prefer a second battery though which is why we would usually advise to opt for the Theragun Pro over the Hypervolt Plus if using it commercially.
All in all, this is a great option for home use, is highly effective, but is pretty costly.
ABOX Muscle Massage Gun
The ABOX features a 30W brushless motor that is capable of delivering up to 3300PPM and operates relatively quietly. It is worth pointing out that the motor on the ABOX is the least powerful of all those that we tested and as a result it doesn’t feel like it provides as deep a massage as some of the pricier models – but for some people that might be preferred and unless you want to experience some serious percussion therapy pain then some would even argue that for daily use the ABOX is a better shout.
There are no less than 8 different massage heads included and although they don’t have the same level of refinement as the Addsfit and the Theragun models they do the job well and offer some unique options. The design is similar to most budget models in that it has almost a hairdryer shape to it – this does mean that it feels familiar when using for the first time and this model in particular is easy to grip thanks to the non-slip handle.
The screen on the rear of the device indicates the current settings and the buttons on the rear panel allow you to change between the 30 speed levels. The battery is large with a 2600mAH unit that is capable of providing around 4-5 hours of charge in real use (we found the 6-10 hours claimed time to be a little excessive).
The ABOX is an excellent budget option that provides some good results considering the price point.