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Are massage guns worth it?

Many people suffer from chronic muscle pain. Whether it’s through a light injury during a workout, professional athletes or people who are on their feet all day, chronic muscle pain can be a burden.

However, visiting physiotherapists and massage professionals can be expensive. That’s why lots of people opt for at-home therapies instead. Not only does it save a few dollars, but tools like massage guns can be highly effective ways to relieve both temporary and chronic muscle pain. 

What is a massage gun?

A massage gun is a technology that enables the user to derive all the benefits of vibrotherapy. This means that massage guns use a type of mechanism that works by passing vibration through the body without oils or a therapist. 

massage chair

The massage gun is based on a specific subset of vibrotherapy, not unlike a massage chair. It is fashioned like a gun that can be held in the hand with pressure being applied to the skin’s surface. This means users can derive many of the same tension- and ache-relieving benefits that they could by going to a traditional therapist.

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How does a massage gun work?

A massage gun works by delivering a percussive massage to the surface of the skin. This massage has the effect of promoting blood flow to a specific area of the body. This enhanced blood flow lets the nutrients, plasma and other naturally occurring healing properties flow to the site where the gun is applied. 

The massage gun works similarly to Swedish massage. This means that some models can be adapted to use for petrissage and some for effulge. However, the massage gun primarily works by using percussion to move nutrient-rich fluids to the site on which it’s applied. One study published by the National Institutes of Health noted that vibration therapy was just as effective as massage at treating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. 

Massage gun evolution

Most people may not know that massage guns have been around in one form or another since the early 1970s. However, these heavy, large and cumbersome percussive massagers were quite different from massage guns as we would know them today. 

TheraGun G1

The massage gun was invented by Jason Werseland, a Los Angeles-based chiropractor, in 2008. Like any great invention, the massage gun was driven by necessity. 

In 2007, on his way to his last college exam, Werseland lost control of his motorbike and suffered a catastrophic back injury. By Christmas of that year, his back pain and soft tissue damage had all but taken over his life. This is when he went into his garage, put some equipment together and made himself a handheld massager. The invention helped with Werseland’s soft tissue injuries by providing him with the myofascial tissue release he needed, and quickly became a highly sought-after product by athletes and sports teams the world over. 

The first product to go to market was the TheraGun G1 — the first of many generations of TheraGuns. The TheraGun Company was not only the flagship company that popularized massage guns, but it was the only real significant player in the market until 2016.

Power Massager

The Power Massager

In 2016, the Power Massager was launched by the now-famous massage technology company TimTam. The Power Massager was a real innovation on the TheraGun G1. Now, you had two key players in the market and not only did competition heat up, but soon the massage guns did, too. 

Not only does this massage gun have excellent battery performance, but it is smooth and powerful with a one-touch trigger and antibacterial plastics.

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Hypervolt massage gun

The Hypervolt and athletes 

Since 2016, massage guns have really taken off, with TheraGun launching its second iteration of its original model. This is partly due to athletes like Kyrie Irving, who used the massage gun in the 2017 NBA Finals. Athletes including Marcus Peters and Cristiano Ronaldo are routinely spotted using massage guns to ease muscle soreness and encourage recovery post-workout. 

Around this time, other players also came on the market. This included the release of the Hypervolt massage gun by Hyperice, which features low volume and improved ergonomic handling.

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Recent iterations of the massage gun 

The most recent developments in the massage gun space have been exciting to say the least. The Hydragun, which is undoubtedly the quietest massage gun on the market, has a whopping six hours of battery life, is extremely light, has a six-speed setting and is a reasonably priced model for its benefits. 

The TheraGun Pro has six heads, a rotating arm and an ergonomic multigrip option available. Other brands specialize in the neck and even leg myofascial release. Some models come with LED screens to make sure you’re on the right setting for your individual needs.

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How to use a massage gun

If you suffer from conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis among others, it’s best to consult with your physician before using a device such as a massage gun. It’s also essential to use a massage gun properly to get the most benefit from it and even avoid giving yourself an injury. 

Some tips for getting the best out of your massage gun include:

  • Keep the massage gun away from overly bony areas of the body.
  • Avoid use of massage guns on sprains or injuries.
  • Stop using the massage gun straight away if you experience sudden or unusual pain.

What you need to buy for the best massage gun experience

TheraGun Elite Deep Tissue Muscle Treatment Massage Gun

TheraGun Elite Deep Tissue Muscle Treatment Massage Gun

If a massage gun is something you need to use regularly, this model uses Bluetooth to connect to an app where you can create and track personalized wellness programs. It’s also super quiet during use.

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TimTam Power Massager

TimTam Power Massager

For athletes or those who are on the road a lot, this massage gun comes with a travel case and weighs just 2.2 pounds while still delivering a powerful massage experience.

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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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