In recent years, the massage gun has quickly become the de-facto recovery device for active individuals. Whether you’re suffering with muscle aches and pains or you’re looking to expedite healing, a massage guns might be your saving grace.
While studies are still evolving, the effectiveness of incorporating massage into your recovery routine is promising. A recent study in PubMed stated:
“The majority of research on psychological effects of massage has concluded that massage produces positive effects on recovery. Post-exercise massage has been shown to reduce the severity of muscle soreness…”
If you’re ready to integrate a massage gun into your recovery regimen, we put together a comprehensive list of the best massage guns you can currently buy.
The Best Massage Gun Testing Criteria:
Design: With every massage gun that we tested, we took into account the overall design of it including: size, weight, and ergonomics. With extended use, we wanted to see how it felt in the hand and if it became cumbersome to use.
Accessories: We also considered what came included in packaging. Was there anything included that was unique or different? How did the included attachments feel when we used them on different parts of the body? Were they comfortable and effective?
Battery Life: For most massage guns, battery life has really been a non-issue. Most massage guns offer about 2-3 hours of battery life used on the highest speed and we feel that’s more than enough power.
Performance: Performance is the one varying factor that really differentiates one massage gun from another. The power output with budget devices is generally less than the more expensive models. While that’s not always the case, it’s difficult to make that determination without actually trying them.
While testing, we tried to remain as objective as possible and to consider each one of the above factors to come to any comparative decision.
Best All Around Massage Gun: Ekrin B37
We consider the Ekrin B37 the best overall massage gun for its perfect balance of performance, design, and cost. From the well constructed soft touch polycarbonate body to the 15 degree angled handle, the B37 is truly a remarkable massage gun to hold.
Powering the Ekrin B37 is a variable 5-speed electric motor which enables you to modulate the intensity of the massage. Relative to most other massage guns, the power output from the B37 is on the higher end.
Unlike a lot of the cheaper massage guns out there, the Ekrin B37 massage head has an amplitude of 12mm. What exactly does that mean? Well, the higher the amplitude, the deeper the massage. Most bargain massagers only have an amplitude of 8-10mm, which just isn’t enough to “dig deep” to work out those muscle kinks.
You’ll also be glad you went with the Ekrin B37 massage gun because it comes with a LIFETIME service warranty! That’s right, should it ever break, just contact the good folks at Ekrin Athletics and they’ll gladly ship you out a replacement. Oh, and did we mention every order includes free shipping?
What buyers say: “Absolutely love this massage gun. Now I am kicking myself for waiting so long.”
Best Bang for Buck: addsfit MAX
The addsfit MAX offers Hypervolt-like performance at about half the price.
With a 9-speed brushless motor, we found the performance of the addsfit to be more than adequate in every regard. The amplitude of the massage head is 12mm and offers up to 35lbs of stall force.
What we really love about the addsfit is the inclusion of 5 silicone massage heads instead of the EVA ball and hard plastic tips. Silicone is not only more comfortable to use on the body, but it’s also more hygienic. We wish more companies went this route.
Although we found the initial quality of the addsfit MAX to be quite good, it’s refreshing to see that a 3 year warranty is included when you register your device.
What buyers say: “I love this massage gun! It’s very well built – all the materials feel premium and put together with longevity in mind!”
Deepest Massage: opove APEX
Opove is perhaps one of the most popular massage guns around, largely for its original massage gun that had a very keen resemblance to the Hypervolt. As a result, the demand for their super powerful, yet quiet, massage gun sky rocketed.
The all-new APEX model offers a whole host of upgrades over the original model including more power, a higher massage head amplitude, improved attachments, and more.
If a deep massage is your thing, the APEX has a 14.5mm amplitude, more than most massage guns. Those with a little more bulk will love that feature.
There’s a lot to love about this massage gun and it comes in at a very reasonable price too.
What buyers say: “This device has been life-changing for my chronic muscle pain.”
Great Power: Lifepro Sonic Pro
If you are looking for the best massage gun with the deepest percussive force, the Lifepro Sonic Pro is a sure bet.
With an overall 12mm massage head amplitude and ultra powerful 15-speed motor, the Sonic Pro will work out even the most stubborn muscle knots.
Not only is the LifePro Sonic Pro powerful with 75lbs of stall force pressure, but has a battery life that will last up to 6 hours on the lowest setting. To help you get the most out of it in that time, LifePro designed the Pro with a built in timer. Pretty neat!
Lifepro is known for their quality products and offer a lifetime warranty on everything they sell.
Included in the box is a molded case, 8 attachment heads, and a charger.
What buyers say: “I highly recommend the Sonic Pro because it works as good or better than its competitors. The price is lower than other advertised quality guns too.”
Best Hi-Tech: Theragun Elite
Do you want the best of the best and you’re ok spending a little extra for it? If so, the Theragun Elite will not disappoint.
The Theragun Elite offers some of the most advanced features we’ve ever seen in a massage gun. From the built in bluetooth Therabody app to the OLED screen with a force meter to let you know if you’re applying too much pressure, the Elite’s name is well deserved.
This newest iteration is now 75% quieter than last generations model thanks to the all-new QX65 motor. On top of that Theragun also managed to double the battery life all while making the body smaller in every dimension.
While the Elite may be more expensive than the other models, we do feel it is worth the money if you’re unwilling to settle for nothing less than the best.
What buyers say: “I was pleasantly surprised at how well this massager really gets my aches. Even my wife was impressed with how it really got her deep shoulder pains.”
Best Mini Massage Gun: LifePro DynaMini
If small, portable, and discreet are what you’re looking for in a massage gun, the DynaMini is the one for you.
While it’s true the DynaMini is the size of your iPhone, it actually offers a nice level of performance. It may not offer the deepest massage, but it’s no slouch either. Not only that, but the battery life is insane! After a solid week of testing, it was still going strong.
To truly be happy with the DynaMini, you need to understand that while it may not be the strongest massage gun out there, it is small enough to use anywhere. Whether you’re traveling, in the car, or out shopping, carrying around the DynaMini is 100% doable, unlike other full size models.
The last thing we absolutely love about the DynaMini is the inclusion of a USB-C charging port. Most electronic devices are powered with a USB-C cable, so it’s nice you won’t have to lug around yet another charger. That and you can charge it nearly everywhere.
What buyers say: “Its awesome, very easy to use and even though its small, it does not feel underpowered at all! Totally fine!”
Best Budget: iReliev Massager
iReliev is perhaps best known for their excellent line of EMS/TENS units. To our surprise they just released their first massage gun and it’s a winner!
At just under $130, the iReliev massage gun offers plenty of power and above average battery life. We found the initial quality to be top-notch as well.
The iReliev percussion massager comes with a variable 3-speed motor that is very quiet to operate. It’s not quite as strong as some others on this list, but we do feel it will be sufficient for most people’s needs.
Inside the box you’ll find 4 attachments, a charger, and a carrying case.
What buyers say: “Overall, I am very satisfied with the quality of the massage gun, especially since it’s almost identical in performance to the Hypervolt at half the cost.”
Lowest Cost: VI Jigsaw
The Vigorous Innovations (VI) Jigsaw actually delivers an incredible amount of power, particularly for the price. However, as the name implies, it is loud. Power tool loud. If it weren’t for that one caveat, the Jigsaw would easily be one of the best massage guns for the money.
For some, the amount of noise is a non-issue because again, the amount of percussion this massage gun has is up there with the best of them. It’s also really well made with an overall small size.
We also like that it includes 2 rechargeable batteries that can be swapped out when you forget to put it on the charger.
If you can get past the noise level, the VI Jigsaw is an excellent choice.
What buyers say: “This thing isn’t quiet. At all. No sneaking in a quick session before an early morning tennis match when my kids are sleeping. But it is really incredible.”
Massage Gun Effectiveness
Logically, for anyone interested in purchasing a massage gun, the number one questions asked are “Is a massage gun effective?” or similarly “Is a massage gun worth it?”. Those are two very valid questions worth exploring and we’ll attempt to answer them with some science-based research.
Before we dive in to the research, let’s first explore some of the promoted benefits and/or claims that massage gun companies advertise.
Theragun, the company that pioneered the percussion massager, claim that using one will “enhance muscle recovery, release stress and tension, and soothe discomfort”.
But that’s not all. Other companies tout benefits that using a massage gun will increase blood flow, help lengthen muscles, and also break up adhesions or scar tissue.
That’s quite a lofty list! Similar claims can be abundantly found across the internet, but are they valid?
Do Massage Guns Really Work?
Ok, so we’ve heard the sales pitch, now let’s see what the science says about massage guns.
Published in the US National Library of Medicine in 2014, vibration therapy and massage were studied to see if they were an effective means of preventing DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). In other words, that feeling of sheer muscle discomfort that you have throughout your body the day following an intense workout.
They concluded: “The result of this study indicates that vibration therapy and massage therapy both are equally effective in prevention of DOMS.”
To be clear, they did NOT use massage guns as part of the study. That said, massage guns do produce both vibration and tapotement (percussion), both of which mimic those therapies.
In a more recent study published in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2020), a Hypervolt was used on the plantar flexor muscles to determine if it would increase range of motion and performance.
The conclusion? Although they did see an increase in overall range of motion (ROM), they did not necessarily notice a direct correlation to improved muscle performance.
In a third study, vibration therapy was employed to determine its effectiveness on preventing quadricep muscle fatigue. Again, the evidence for increasing muscle performance was still undetermined. However, early trials did indicate that vibration did in fact increase motor muscle activation, which could lead to accelerated muscle recovery.
So do massage guns work? So far, all signs point to yes. As always, the science is ever evolving and as more studies are completed, the evidence should continue to amass.
If you’re wondering about the best practices to safely use a massage gun, take a look at our in-depth guide, How To Effectively Use A Massage Gun