Best massage guns 2023: top therapy tools for percussive muscle relief
Nine tickets to the gun show
If workouts leave your body stiffer than a barbell, it might be time to add one of the best massage guns to your kit bag. By hammering your muscles with thousands of vibrations per minute, these therapeutic utensils stimulate blood flow, enhance recovery and generally beat you into better shape.
Like gym members, massage guns come in a range of shapes and sizes. From portable pistols for relief on the road, to pro-grade guns that serve up the punchiest of percussive treatments, we’ve picked out our favourite tools for DIY physio in the list below.
Lingo got you tied up in knots? We’ve also deciphered the key specs to keep in mind when shopping for a top massage gun. Whether for before, during or after exercise – or to ease the aches of a sedentary desk day – the right model should leave your muscles feeling more limber and less like timber.
Buying tips: knead to know
Work it smarter
You can work intuitively through your sore spots, but guesswork won’t always achieve relief. Several models feature smartphone app connectivity, which can guide you through suggested routines in real time via Bluetooth.
Swap it over
Different knots need different tops. From lumbar thumbs to spinal forks, most models support swappable attachments for targeting specific areas. Some come bundled with multiple tips, while others offer extras separately.
Push too hard and some guns will give up. Rated in lbs, this pressure threshold is called stall force. Travel tools tend sacrifice force for portability, while pro models pack enough punch to knead deep into your muscles.
How much a gun’s head moves can affect the pummel factor. Amplitude ranges from 8mm to a hefty 16mm. Vibration speeds also vary by model, although even on entry-level guns the fastest setting will still be intense.
The best compact massage guns for travel
The travel triangle: Therabody Theragun Mini (2nd gen)
Use a Toblerone as a roller and you’ll be all out of shape. Use this rounded triangle for treatment and your tension should melt faster than a chocolate dumbbell. Shrunk for its second generation, Therabody’s portable power-up is light enough to live in your gym bag, yet still delivers three speeds and an amplitude of 12mm. Syncing it by Bluetooth unlocks recipes for sweet relaxation.
The pocket pistol: Hyperice Hypervolt Go 2
After a hard day pursuing rebel scum, even Stormtroopers deserve some R&R. This minimalist gun features a soft-touch arctic finish which perfectly complements the Empire’s standard-issue armour. Equipped with a grip more ergonomic than any blaster, its one-button interface can’t be set to stun – but it can cycle through three speeds of therapy, with two attachments to help you direct its delivery of the Force.
The aluminium alleviator: Hydragun Atom Mini
It’s not microscopic, but this miniature machine is as compact as they come. True to its atomic moniker, the 550g cylinder sports an aluminium shell that’s the envy of the periodic table. And despite its compact proportions, it still packs the power to wobble your molecules: boosted by USB-C, the palm-sized pounder pumps out more than 50 beats per second at a force of 15.4lbs.
The best middleweight massage guns
The punchy pummeller: Pulsio Elite
It takes more than brute force to repair an aching body, but you still need some thump to properly hit the spot. While this instrument won’t make you a master masseur, it will produce a massive 89lbs of stall force. It’ll also hammer the source of your stiffness with up to 6500 percussions per minute, while its dampened motor is masked by your grateful groans.
The ideal implement: MuscleGun Carbon
Goldilocks didn’t mention dreams of becoming a sports therapist. If the porridge robber did rehabilitate by gaining an NVQ, this would be her weapon of choice: it’s built to be just right. At 980g, the angled handle is solid in the paw yet easy to wield. And with a 12mm amplitude, 44lbs of stall force and five speed settings, it can aid recovery after woodland workouts – without being too powerful for Papa Bear’s bad back.
The temperate tool: HoMedics Pro Physio Massage Gun
Repeatedly pummelling your muscles is one route to recovery. Toasting them is another. This vibrating aid does both: as well as pulsing at up to 3000rpm, it ships with a tip that reaches 47⁰C in less than two minutes, for heated relief that boosts your blood flow. Keen to cool off? Freeze the separate gel head for a chilled dose of post-gym jiggling.
The best heavyweight massage guns for pro relief
The swivelling soother: Compex Fixx 2.0
Straining to hit tricky bits could leave you needing further therapy. This adaptable apparatus makes it easier to reach knotted nooks during your DIY treatments. Disguised as a cordless drill, its battering arm can rotate to suit the job at hand, while the slanted handles let you grip two ways. Simply slot in the battery cartridge and turn the dial to amp up the PPM.
The pro pounder: Theragun Pro (5th gen)
You’d get several therapy sessions for the price of Theragun’s range-topper. But thanks to its integrated display, you shouldn’t need professional help: besides showing a real-time force readout, the OLED panel visually guides you through targeted routines. Select from four preset programmes, or go full physio and create your own in the app. It also runs quieter, lasts longer and hits deeper than previous editions.
The hefty hammer: Recovapro MAX
Whacking with a mallet might mitigate muscular discomfort, but this beefy bludgeon will nail your aches better than any analogue gavel. Styled like something from Thor’s arsenal, its 90W motor runs for more than 300 minutes per charge. Percussion speeds can be tweaked via the app, while a 16mm amplitude promises to beat deep into your tissue. Seven attachments add versatility to your toolbox, too.