Self-care is a growing part of everyone’s training routine and the need for personal massagers has been steadily rising over the past decade. Having the best massage gun nowadays is considered a must for people that go through extreme workouts or have a hard-hitting everyday life. But what exactly defines a good massage gun? And more importantly – how to pick the right one for you from the countless models on the market? Well, in this guide we will go through some of the top models for 2020 and then answer all of the important questions regarding these devices.
Massage guns comparison chart
Theragun G3PRO Percussive Therapy Device
The Theragun G3PRO is one of the hottest massage gun products right now mainly due to its innovative design and convenient all-in-one package. The head has a frequency of 40Hz (40 beats per second) which is good enough to treat more tensed up spots than normal. It also has a sensitive mode which brings the percussions per second down to 29. All that comes in a very unique design that makes holding the gun easy and comfortable. The arm that extends to the head has 4 adjustable positions in a 90-degree radius. The head itself is fairly large and designed with deep-tissue massaging in mind. There are 6 attachments available in your package that can all target different muscle groups.
As additional accessories, you will get 2 swappable battery packs made by Samsung which have 75 minutes of battery life each. This makes the gun highly portable and suitable for people that want to take it with them when they travel. When it comes to transportation, you also get a hard travel case. The head attachments also come in a pouch of their own. Unfortunately with all these premium features and convenient accessories, you get a hefty price tag that is double or even triple the one of other traditional massage guns.
- Unique design
- Powerful motor
- Two massaging modes
- 6 different massage heads
- Super quiet compared to cheaper models
- Comes with 2 battery packs
- Has a hard travel case and a pouch for the heads
- Very expensive
- Batteries don’t last too long
Sonic Handheld Percussion Massage Gun
The Sonic Handheld percussion massage gun is one of the best models in the budget class. It has all the bells and whisltes of the premium guns but at a fraction of the cost. The goal of the company has always been to make these guns affordable to the general everyday training person and that is what they did here. Granted, there had to be a few corners cut but overall this gun is a solid choice for anyone that isn’t training on a professional level. The main issues I have with it are the design and the fact that the head might struggle if you push too far. Still, there are 5 frequency modes ranging from 20Hz all the way up to 45Hz.
There are 5 different heads you get here which all serve a different purpose. The round head improves recovery and helps with sore muscles. The spinal head loosens up your back muscles, while the flat head is designed to help with the most painful and problematic areas. There are also two bullet heads which are made specifically to target narrow spots or joints.
The feature that stands out the most for me about this gun is its affordability. While it isn’t the most unique-looking or powerful, it does a perfect job for the everyday person that won’t push it to its limits. It also has a battery life that outlasts more other models in this price point.
- Very well priced
- Comes with 5 massage heads
- Has a battery life meter on top
- Can work at 5 different frequency modes
- Covered by a lifetime warranty
- Relatively quiet
- Long-lasting batteries
- The design isn’t very ergonomically sound
- The head might struggle to keep up if you push too far
TimTam Power Massager Pro
Coming from the legendary Canadian MMA coach Firas Zahabi, the TimTam is widely considered the best massage gun out there. Now, to top of their previous version, the Power Massager Pro 2.0 came out. It has a few significant improvements over the previous model. The main ones are that the head is now heated and the operation is much quieter. The difference in the sound is one of the most staggering improvements and makes this gun one of the, if not the, quietest out there. While the design isn’t well-accepted by some people, the construction is lightweight and super durable. The whole gun weighs 2.0 lbs and has a 180-degrees rotational head that allows you to use it on various parts of your body without many limitations. The gun works at almost 47Hz and has a 30mm stroke length which is perfect for deep-tissue massaging. One other improvement over the previous model is the battery life which can now last up to 1 hour.
Frankly, if it wasn’t for the huge price tag, I’d rate this the best massage gun for this year and be done with it. In other words, if you can afford it, this will be all you ever need in terms of self-care and injury prevention.
- 175-degree articulating head arm
- Heated massage head
- Lightweight construction
- Super silent
- 30mm stroke length
- Comes with 3 additional tips
- Very expensive
- Some people prefer the traditional massage gun design over this one
Legiral Portable Massage Gun
The Legiral Massage gun is one of the nicer options if you are tight on your budget. It comes with 6 different massage heads each designed for a different location and purpose. What makes it stand out from the more expensive models is that it has 20 levels of frequency adjustment which ensures a smooth operation for anything from muscle arousal all the way to depth massage therapy. The motor allows the massage head to go up 3200 percussions per minute which roughly translates to 53Hz. That same motor is also very quiet and allows you to use this gun in noise-sensitive environments. The downside is that it lacks a bit of power and can struggle if you push it too hard.
At the top of the gun, you have two displays, one showing you the level at which your head is working and the other one showing you the current battery status of the gun. Speaking of the battery, the one here can last up to 6 hours on the lowest frequency mode and takes roughly 2 hours to be fully recharged and ready.
- Great price-to-value ratio
- 20 frequency modes
- 6 different massage heads
- relatively quiet
- 16-millimiters stroke length
- Comes with a case
- Up to 6 hours battery life
- The motor isn’t very powerful
- The materials aren’t very durable
Feeke P3 Pro Deep Tissue Percussion Muscle Massager
Another cheap, yet highly functional option is the Feeke P3 Pro massage gun. It resembles the Legiral Massage gun in a ton of ways. It has similar 6 massage heads, the same 20-speed options, the same battery life, and even comes with a similar carrying case. Even price-wise these two models are very close to each other.
Where the Feeke gun stands out, however, is the design. While at first, they might look similar, the P3 Pro is far more durable and well-made. It is made of special impact-proof plastic cover that can withstand a 6ft drop. Furthermore, there are 500 days in which you can return the product and get a replacement if your was defective. Other than that, battery life, display, and almost the rest of its features resemble most massage guns in this price bracket.
Some of the biggest disadvantages of this gun stem from its construction and design. Firstly, it isn’t the lightest gun out there, which might make it awkward to use over extended periods. Secondly, it isn’t ergonomic at all, especially compared to other models with softer and better positioned handles.
- Extremely durable
- Very quiet
- Long battery life
- Nicely priced
- Easy to read display
- 20 speed levels
- Motor can feel week at certain positions
- Not very ergonomic
- Slightly on the heavy side
RENPHO Deep Tissue Massage Gun
The Renpho massage gun is a model that is at least worthy of your consideration. It comes with 4 massage heads and can go up to 3200 rpms. It also comes in a nice carrying case and is relatively easy to use.
The standout feature of the Renpho gun is that it has the longest battery life of all the guns here. It can last up to 8 hours on its lower frequency settings. As you might have noticed so far, battery life correlates with the power of the motor. The more potent a motor is, the less it will last under continuous usage, while the weaker motors which can straight up stop when pushed too hard against the skin generally last quite a lot more.
Another thing that I like about this massage gun is that the interface on top is quite simple to use. You get the frequency levels, battery remaining, speed controls and the power button on the top side. The downsides here are that for this price we are usually used to seeing 6 massage heads and noise levels in the 10s. Still, this gun comes with only 4 heads and is quite noisy, especially in the higher speed settings.
- Well priced
- Very long battery life
- Comes with a carrying case
- 20 speed levels
- Relatively lightweight
- Quite noisy when pushed to its highest frequency settings
- Not very comfortable to hold
Massage Guns Buyer’s Guide
If you’ve ever come home from a workout and felt truly battered, then you know how much of a difference a good massage can make at that very moment. While going to a massage studio will cost you time and money and make you travel, having a portable massage gun has nearly the same benefits right in your home. But what exactly are massage guns, how do they work, and what are the benefits of owning one? Let’s answer all of these questions now…
How do massage guns work?
Most handheld massagers work on a common principle. Massage guns, however, tend to pierce slightly deeper into your tissues, hence the name “deep tissue massage”. With the massage head upfront, they press into your muscles with a moderately high frequency (30-70Hz) and improve the lymphatic flow around those muscle tissues and tendons. That same procedure also decreases lactic acid buildup in the muscles and helps with recovery.
The high-frequency massaging head also promotes the blood flow in the area which you are treating, mainly due to the deep-tissue impulses. Some more expensive massage guns even have heated massage heads. Those heads can also be in various shapes designed to maximize the potential of the gun in various scenarios.
Massage gun benefits
If you’re into intensive training, then you most likely know how beneficial a massage is for the body. While the traditional massage has a more physical approach, there are a number of benefits that come with owning a massage gun. Some of those are:
- These guns save you precious time you would waste in going to and from the massage studio
- They are cheaper in the long run
- Massage guns can create more pressure at a single point
- You can target very specific muscle groups, even small ones
- You can do all that from the comfort of your own home
- Massage guns are also highly portable and can be carried in your training backpack to use them after the workout
- They increase lymphatic and blood flow through the muscle tissue and decrease lactic acid buildup
Main features to look for
Massage guns are fairly simple and, therefore, don’t require too deep of research in order to be able to separate the really good ones from the mediocre ones. Still, there are a few things that you should pay attention to when choosing your first massager, such as:
- Percussions (Speed)
- Head adjustability
- Ease of use and portability
- Noise levels
- Additional features and accessories
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of those features…
The percussions per minute are one of the most important metrics of all massage guns. It is their go-to characteristic when they are being compared side by side and there is a good reason behind that. The more percussions the gun has means it can go faster and deliver better speeds. Very low speeds aren’t ideal, the same way very high ones aren’t either, so try choosing a model that has at least a few speed options.
While this isn’t a mandatory feature, it sure it convenient to have it. Most massage guns have a fixed head position which is usually at 90-degrees compared to the gun itself. However, there are some models out there that can rotate that head 90-degrees up and have a few stops on the way up. These additional head angles will allow you to target some muscle groups of your body better and easier.
The pressure, also called torque, is yet another essential feature of these guns. The industry standard nowadays is anywhere between 50 and 80 pounds of toque. The amount of pressure a massager has is directly proportional to how deep it will be able to penetrate and how deep will its effects be felt by your body.
Pay special attention to this metric, since some companies primarily focus their marketing on the speed of their gun throwing the torque under the run and hoping you don’t notice that while it is fast, it has nowhere near the necessary pressure to help you relax your bigger muscle groups. Also, the lower the pressure the easier it is to bring the gun to a full stop after you apply a bit more pressure, practically rendering it useless for more intensive massages.
Ease of use and portability
The features that directly affect how easy the massager is to use and how portable it is are the weight of the model, its handles’ comfort and how many of them there are. The adjustable massage head also adds to the ease of use, since it helps you reach awkward spots, as I already mentioned.
Portability benefits a lot from a smaller form-factor, reduced weight, and a case that lets you travel with it easily. Most guns can fit into your training sack if you want to take them to your gym and use them after the workout.
While this might seem like nitpicking, these massage guns aren’t exactly quiet tools. Imagine you are in your office and you want to relax during a heavy shift or have sore muscles from the run last night. In these situations, having a low-noise massage gun can be of great use. The TimTam Power massager pro is one of the most powerful yet super quiet models out there but it comes at a very high price.
Even though I briefly touched on the design already, it still is an essential feature. The ergonomics of the massage gun will determine how easy it is to use and how well you can use it against your muscles.
While some guns feature a cross shape with the head being perpendicular to the handle, others have a “jigsaw” approach with the head being down from the handle allow you to push a little bit easier. Multi-way multi-handle guns are the way to go and are the easiest to use both by you or someone that is massaging you.
If you plan on using this gun on the go or at other locations where you don’t have quick and easy access to an outlet, then you should really look for a model with decent battery life. Moreover, look for battery lives that do not hinder the performance of the head if the levels start bottoming out.
Lithium-ion batteries are standard in the niche nowadays and they all generally last up to a few hours. The higher the speed of the gun, the less on-time you will get from the battery, so pay close attention to how powerful the gun is since that will be reversely proportional to how long it holds its charge. Bonus points if the battery is removable since that will allow you to carry extra battery packs along with you.
Additional features and accessories
I wanted to briefly touch on some of the additional features that you need to look for. Some of those are removable battery packs, hard-cases for carrying the gun around safely, additional heads for various massaging purposes, and a heated head.
Lastly, don’t ignore the price tag, as some feature-rich models can easily throw you way outside your initially set budget. Make a list of all the features that you want to have and stick to it otherwise this might be one expensive experience.
Massaging is a must-have part of your weekly training routine, the same way warm-ups are part of your everyday practice. In fact, I’ve dedicated a whole article on how to warm up properly in order to get the most out of your training session. Now, let’s answer a few more questions…
Frequently Asked Questions
How often can you use massage guns?
Massage guns can be used every time after a workout since they aren’t as intensive as a regular full-body massage. Still, they are not a suitable replacement for a good recovery stretch, so try to combine both for optimal results.
Are massage guns effective?
Depending on your needs, massage guns can be extremely effective as well as quite ineffective. If your body is in need of a good recovery massage, then maybe a massage gun isn’t the right tool. Still, if you have a specific muscle group that got overworked, this might be the best alternative the market currently offers.
Do massage guns release lactic acid stored in the muscles?
Yes, they do. Any form of pressure put on the muscles will increase their lymphatic and blood flow, which, in turn, reduces the lactic acid buildup that happens there after a heavy workout.
Do vibrating massagers help with sore muscles?
Vibration is always welcome when it comes to massaging your muscles. The more vibrations, the deeper can the head penetrate, making the massage more effective. While not all massage guns have a vibration mode, they utilize another method which is based on very fast hits of the target area with the head.
Knowing which are the best massage guns in today’s market will be valuable when you start shopping for one. Being able to identify the features that define a good model will allow you to quickly identify the right models and narrow down your choice. If you aren’t sure which model to pick you can always rely on my top 6 picks or simply shoot me an email and I will give you my best piece of advice!