You manage to fit a workout into your busy schedule, but what about all the other things you could be doing to enhance your wellness? Or are you too busy for anything more than just a quick hop onto the elliptical or treadmill at the gym three times per week?
Thankfully, many wellness and fitness tools are easily available at home to make holistic wellness that much more attainable. However, until recently, there’s been one area of fitness that really suffers from a total lack of convenience — muscle therapy.
Typically, serious fitness gurus and athletes alike take care of their muscle therapy via cooldowns and massages, but booking a regular massage is pricey, not to mention an added strain on an already-packed schedule. Sure, massage balls and foam rollers are an alternative, but how well do they really work?
If you need muscle therapy that’s more than what a foam roller can provide, but there’s no way you’ll be able to book a massage on the regular, you may find yourself intrigued when you see massage guns touted on social media as a fitness phenomenon.
But what exactly does a massage gun do, what are the benefits and which of the most popular massage gun brands is right for you? Lucky for you, we've gathered research and tested out three of the best massage guns on the market from Theragun, Hyperice and Hydragun. Which one is the best overall, though?
What is a Massage Gun?
A massage gun provides percussive therapy — in other words, the same kind of muscle therapy that you might get from a deep tissue massage wherein the masseuse doesn’t exactly go easy on you. This kind of therapy has been proven to relieve pain or soreness after a hard workout, as well as help you bounce back from any workout so you can get in the gym again sooner.
A massage gun provides this same kind of therapy — which is nearly impossible to obtain without a human being otherwise — when and where it's most convenient for you. Beyond their convenience, massage guns also are meant to deliver the benefits of percussive therapy in a shorter amount of time, so you’re spending minutes with your massage gun versus an hour or an hour and a half on the massage table.
What are the Benefits of Using a Massage Gun?
Massage guns come with a range of benefits. Users say they experience:
- Enhanced blood flow
- Pain relief
- Quicker muscle repair
- Mood benefits
- Pressure point relief
- A lower heart rate
While a massage gun can’t fix all of your wellness problems, it can certainly help you recover from hard workouts faster and relieve some pain in specific muscle groups, with the added benefit of convenience.
Picking a Massage Gun
When it comes to picking a massage gun, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
For one, think about your actual needs. Do you want a massage gun that provides percussive therapy, landing strong blows with a huge amount of force to your deep muscle tissue? Or do you really need something with a lighter touch?
If you think a massage gun is definitely for you, then consider the noise and the battery life of a particular gun.
In most instances, massage guns offer a battery life ranging from just over half an hour to three hours or more. While you’re not going to be using your massage gun for that length of time, the long battery life does mean that you won’t need to worry about frequent charges.
Massage guns can be noisy, so if you need a certain level of quiet, so as to not disturb other members of your household, you’ll want to consider the noise level of a massage gun as well.
Lastly, when shopping for a massage gun, pay attention to the various attachments and accessories that may come with it. You may find some to be specifically suited to your individual therapy needs, while others might prove a little useless.
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Theragun vs. Hyperice vs. Hydragun
Three of the most popular massage gun brands on the market are Theragun (recently rebranded to Therabody), Hyperice and Hydragun.
Therabody/Theragun got its start in 2007 when the company founder was looking for a tool to help in his recovery from a traumatic motorcycle accident. The founder — also a doctor — fine-tuned his creation over several years, before finally releasing the Theragun G1 to the masses in 2016.
The latest Theragun model to come onto the market is the G3PRO, sporting an ergonomic design and quieter use. As of last year, Theragun was used by more than 250 professional sports teams, as well as an array of trainers and therapists in more than 40 countries.
The brand continued to expand last year, with in-store experiences and lines of new devices, as well as a line of CBD products. Theragun users now also have access to the new Therabody app, for Bluetooth accessibility, personalized wellness routines and integration with your other health apps.
Hyperice is the creator of Hypervolt, arguably one of Theragun’s primary competitors. Hyperice has always had a focus on sports recovery, getting its start in 2010 with the creation of the world’s first high-performance portable ice compression device. With the help of athlete feedback, Hyperice refined its product over the next months, before launching to the public in 2012. In 2015, Hyperice would launch its first percussive therapy device, called the Raptor.
Now, Hyperice products are used by top fitness centers, sports teams and training facilities all over the globe. The brand can be found in 50 countries and is used by more than 200 collegiate and professional sports teams, as well as the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Compared to Therabody and Hyperice, Hydragun is a relatively young brand. More of a startup, Hydragun has one primary advantage over Therabody and Hyperice in the fact that Hydragun came along after the other two brands and have been able to build upon the other two brands’ foundations, excelling where they failed and fixing common customer complaints.
As Hydragun says on its website, creating the brand was all about ticking the boxes that other massage or percussion guns simply couldn’t, whether that was because they were too noisy, too weak, too strong, etc. Hydragun aims to offer users a new solution, beyond the higher-priced big brands and the knock offs, and Hydragun hopes to get its devices into one million households by 2023.
The Theragun G3PRO from Amazon provides users with 60 pounds of force in each 16mm stroke, delivering 1,740 to 2,400 strokes per minute. There are two-speed settings and six interchangeable head attachments, and the massage gun boasts a battery life of nearly three hours. The amount of force delivered is so powerful that Theragun users are recommended to only use the gun on one area of muscle for two minutes at a time, max.
The G3PRO works with the Bluetooth-enabled Therabody app to help you get the most out of your massage gun.
The six interchange tips include a standard ball, large ball, dampener, wedge, thumb and cone. These massage heads allow you to suitably access all areas where you might need to work out some deep tissue knots, from the base of your foot to between your shoulder blades. The app can further explain how to use each tip and ways to use the massage gun beyond workout repair, whether you’re battling carpal tunnel or even some jet lag.
An ergonomic design ensures the gun is easy to use, however you plan to use it, and a carrying case makes it easy to tote to the gym or while traveling. It also comes with two lithium-ion batteries and a charger.
The Theragun G3PRO is quieter than past Theragun models, but that still doesn’t make it silent or even quiet, unfortunately. People will definitely know when you’re using it, and you may receive a few curious stares if you’re out in public.
The price? $600.
There is a Theragun alternative to the Theragun G3PRO if you don’t think you need that amount of force (or you don’t want to spend that amount of money). The Theragun Elite offers many of the same benefits as the G3PRO, but at around the $400 mark instead.
You get the same Bluetooth capabilities and 40 pounds of force with each stroke, compared to the G3PRO’s 60 pounds of force. The massage gun produces 2,400 strokes per minute and there are five-speed options, which is nice when you want to take it easy on some of your more sensitive areas. The battery lasts for two hours.
Like the G3PRO, the Theragun Elite does come with a carrying case.
The Hyperice Hypervolt isn’t as ergonomically designed as the Theragun G3PRO, but it does deliver 2,000 to 3,200 strokes per minute, with 40-pound, 16mm strokes. It offers three-speed settings, a battery life of three hours exactly and five interchangeable tips (including a flat tip, ball tip, pointed bullet tip and fork tip).
While the massage gun, which looks quite a bit more like an actual gun than the G3PRO, is somewhat more difficult to maneuver into tight spots, it weighs only 2.5 pounds, which is appreciated. It’s also quieter than the Theragun G3PRO, and more affordable, at $320 (plus extra for the carrying case, which does not come free with the Hypervolt as it does with the Theragun). In fact, it’s so quiet that some users report being able to even use it in the office without disturbing their coworkers.
In terms of experience, users report that the Theragun G3PRO provides more of a rough, tough, deep tissue beating, whereas the Hypervolt gives you a somewhat gentler, massage-like experience, while still working out those tough knots.
Unfortunately, you’ll be on your own when you’re experimenting with the five interchangeable tips, as there’s no app to guide you through your percussive therapy journey.
Unlike Hyperice and Therabody, Hydragun only offers one product, also called Hydragun. I had the recent opportunity to try the Hydragun for myself to see how well it worked and if it really lives up to the brand’s self-imposed hype.
The Hydragun comes packaged in a minimalistic gift box that reveals a pretty standard zippered case for the gun and all of its attachments — of which there are quite a few. You get six attachment heads: a ball head for larger muscle groups; a flat head for wide surface areas; a bullet head for inner joints, feet and deep penetration; a fork head for medium muscle groups; a steel flat head for a harder massage and wider surface area; and a steel round head for harder massages for large muscle groups.
The percussion gun is extremely easy to use. Just pop in the attachment head of your choice, press the single-touch button on the back and you’re in action. The lightweight gun features six speed settings, for up to 3,200 pulses per minute, and all settings are extremely quiet. Hydragun measures the noise level at about 30–50 dB, or about half the volume of a normal conversation.
Compared to the other percussion guns on this list, the Hydragun is quiet, easier to use and even more affordable at $300.
Both my husband and I used the Hydragun over the last few weeks and we both noticed that it made a substantial difference in our muscle pain and tenseness. However, it’s worth noting that neither of us is what you’d consider a gym rat. Our workouts are outdoor adventure activities — near-daily skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, etc.
Still, the Hydragun significantly helped my husband’s shoulder pain following a nasty fall on the slopes, and beyond use in an active setting, I even found the Hydragun to be useful for alleviating overall muscle tenseness from stress (and after doing a little online research, I similarly found that some other percussion gun owners were using their guns purely for stress relief, particularly before bed. These users noted seeing results of better overall sleep).
While Hyperice and Therabody are the two main competitors in the massage gun industry, there are a few other options on the market for your consideration.
The TimTam All New Power Massager Deep Tissue Massage Gun looks like something you might find in your dad’s garage, like a power drill with a massage ball attached. Given that, users do report that the massage gun sounds and feels like a power drill.
At $415, it’s more expensive than the Hyperice Hypervolt, and it’s preferred by those who want a no-frills, basic massage gun that puts the emphasis on power only.
The Achedaway Vibration and Percussion Massager is similar in many ways to the Hyperice Hypervolt. It offers five power speed settings, from 1,500 to 3,250 rpm. It’s a little pricier, at $400, but you can sometimes find it on sale for a much more affordable price. It comes with various attachments and is quiet and easy to use.
If you want something that’s very much so on the budget side, you can give the Sportneer Percussive Massage Gun a try. At $130, it’s more affordable than the Hypervolt Hyperice and Theragun G3PRO massage guns, but it still offers some of the same benefits.
The massage gun puts out five power levels, from 15 watts to 160 watts, 1,200 rpm to 3,200 rpm. The battery life will last up to a whopping five and a half hours. The gun comes with six attachments, including attachments meant for use with CBD oils. The gun is also on the quieter side, at 55 decibels.
And lastly, many fitness fans are likely attracted to this massage gun due to the well-known Nordictrack name. Unfortunately, some users are disappointed by the gun’s lack of power. It just doesn’t stand up to the test for those who need heavy-duty percussive therapy.
However, if you want a gentler touch and massage therapy for injured or ill muscles, you may find the product is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s also very budget-friendly, at less than $100.
Theragun vs. Hypervolt vs. Hydragun: Who Wins?
Let’s look at the various aspects that pit these two massage guns against one another. Who wins in terms of…
Power: Definitely the Theragun G3PRO.
Ease of Use: The Hydragun wins for ease of use, thanks to its lightweight design and range of attachments.
Noise: The Hypervolt and Hydragun are both on the quiet side. We’ll call it a tie.
Battery Life: The Hydragun wins for battery life by a long shot, with an average six hours of battery life compared to the other guns’ three hours.
Price: When it comes to price, there’s no contest. The Hydragun is more affordable than both the Theragun and Hypervolt.
The Overall Winner?
If you’re just getting into the percussion gun lifestyle, you can’t go wrong with the Hydragun. The quiet volume, ease of use and low price all make this option stand out.
But as always, if you are suffering from any severe muscle pain or struggling with range of motion, we suggest you reach out to a professional. Massage tools are great for at-home relief, but cannot cure everything.
Professional massage and physical therapists are trained professionals to help you with pain relief, and healing injured body parts. If you are in the market for something to help with muscle soreness, a handheld massager could be the perfect tool for you!
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