Your muscles will thank you.

By Gabrielle Kassel
June 08, 2020
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Courtesy of Manufacturers and Erlon Silva-TRI Digital/Getty

If there's anything better than the rush of endorphins post-workout, it's the feeling of someone sinking their fingers into your oh-so-sore muscles for a rewarding massage.

The trouble is, a massage comes with a seriously long list of prerequisites! Think about it: You need a boo/roommate/sibling who is ready, willing, and able to knead your achey limbs. Or, you need to be willing to drop some dough on a professional masseuse. (And welp, being in the middle of global pandemic—in which many spas are shut down—can make that pretty difficult.). Luckily, there's a high-tech alternative you can use at home (and all on your own) to get the job done: a massage gun. (Related: These Tech Products Can Help You Recover from Your Workout While You Sleep)

Also known as percussive guns, massage guns are a popular recovery tool designed to decrease muscle soreness and improve range of motion. How? Basically, they beat your muscles up over and over and over again. The mechanism—known as percussion massage therapy—is similar to that of manual therapy or foam rolling, explains physical therapist Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault. The guns excel at increasing overall circulation, which means your muscles get more of the nutrient-rich blood they need to recover. "They also send inputs to your body and brain that helps your muscles lengthen (meaning, relax), which allows you to access an increased range of motion," adds Wickham.

Interested in trying out one of these buzzy tools? Ahead, a list of the top massage guns on the market based on price point, noise level, and range of intensity, according to trainers, coaches, and athletes. (Related: The Best Recovery Tools for When Your Muscles Are Sore AF)

Therabody Theragun Pro

THERABODY

Theragun (which recently rebranded as Therabody) is to percussion guns what Kleenex is to tissue. So if you've heard of percussion therapy, chances are, you've heard of this top-of-the-line bad boy. Priced at just under $600, the Theragun Pro doesn't come cheap. But if money ~ain't no thang~, you don't need to look further. With six attachments, an adjustable arm, a customizable speed range (read: it can deliver up to 2,400 beats per minute), this quiet yet powerful device helps to enhance muscle recovery, release stress and tension within the body, and soothes aches and pains. Plus, the brand claims it reaches 60 percent deeper into the muscles, in comparison to other massage guns.

Certified personal trainer with Fitter Living, Hannah Daugherty, NASM C.P.T., says it's her favorite massage gun brand because it's both powerful and customizable. "If you're tech-savvy, there's even a blue-tooth enabled app that can lead you through a full body massage routine, giving you a time countdown for each area," Daugherty says. "The app also remembers what intensity you like for each muscle, as well."

Buy It: Theragun Pro, $599, theragun.com

Hyperice Hypervolt Plus Percussion Massager

DICKS SPORTING GOODS

The Hypervolt Plus rivals the Thergun's stardom, and for good reason. It features five intensity settings, five different nozzle options, and it does the same quality work on your muscles (thanks to a high-torque motor, which delivers 30 percent more power than the brand's other models) without making much more than a peep. "So many of the massage guns on the market really bother my eardrums," says certified personal trainer Sergio Pedemonte, CEO of Your House Fitness. "The Hypervolt Plus doesn't emit that loud noise, but does help my muscles."

Master SoulCycle instructor and fitness expert Maddy Ciccone is also a fan. "As a full-time SoulCycle Instructor, doing HIIT classes for "fun" on the side, and also running, my piriformis, IT bands, and glutes benefit massively from this gun." (Related: Could Poroformis Syndrome Be The Cause Of Your Glute Pain?)

Vybe Premium Percussion Massage Gun

AMAZON

It's called the Vybe (pronounced "vibe"), but, rather than vibrating, it pulsates—pumping out up to 3200 percussions per minute. It also boasts four massage heads and five speeds to help target different muscle groups, including options for deep tissue. Amazon reviewers rave that it helps with everything from cramping and workout recovery to plantar fasciitis and chronic back pain.

According to Nick Rizzo, a competitive powerlifter and training director at RunRepeat.com, it's the best gun period. "I don't know how you can justify the price tag of the higher-end models when you have such a powerful and economical option from Vybe."

Sportneer Percussion Massage Gun

AMAZON

Sorry not sorry, but I'm not even going to pretend to be unbiased. As a fitness and wellness writer and a CrossFit trainer, I've tried all the guns on this list (and more!) and this is by far my favorite. Why? Because it works just as well (and dare I say better??) as the options that are nearly five times as expensive, and is super quiet! The Sportneer Massage Gun has 5 different intensity settings, which deliver anywhere from 1,200 to 3,200 percussions per minute. As someone who gets a lot of muscle knots in her hands (lol #journalistlife) and feet (#chickswhorun), the lower intensity settings are clutch, while my glutes love the higher-intensity options after leg workouts. I also love that it comes with six different head attachments—two of which are made of metal and great for using with essential oil, moisturizer, or CBD-oil. (Related: Do CBD Pain Creams Actually Work?)

TimTam Power Massager

AMAZON

Created by the dream-team of MMA legend George St-Pierre, CrossFit and mobility coach Kelly Starrett, and track and field athlete Dominique Blake, the TimTam gun does not mess around when it comes to pummeling your muscle knots. It offers two incredibly powerful settings, so if you're someone who tends to ask a masseuse to go "harder" when getting a foot/shoulder/etc massage or have a higher tolerance for pressure, this is the gun for you. And if not, you probably won't be able to handle this tough guy (no shame!).

One medical professional wrote: "As a Chiropractor, I am constantly looking for new technology to help my patients. This machine is excellent for stubborn soft tissue problems. Especially helpful with athletes and muscular/larger patients. I would highly recommend this to other chiropractors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and patients. For the money, you can't find a better deal!!! And, the customer service is AWESOME! Thank you!"

Therabody Theragun Mini

THERABODY

This nifty device can be summarized in just three words: Compact, convenient, and cost-effective. Therabody's, travel model, the Theragun Mini Massager, is a third the price of the regular model and can literally fit in the palms of your hands. But don't let that fool you, as it still delivers a recovery punch: At the highest speed setting, it can deliver up to 2,400 percussions per minute, just like the regular version. And unlike the OG product, you can actually use it in the airport, at the gym, in the hotel lobby, or in your office without pissing off bystanders or your colleagues, because it doesn't sound like a jackhammer. (Related: This $6 Amazon Purchase Is the Single Best Recovery Tool I Own)

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