Recovery is an essential part of training, just as important as the weekly speed workouts, long runs, and strength training. And having the best massage gun for your muscles can help the process. While the science behind massage is somewhat mixed, massage guns generally use percussion to help stimulate blood flow, release tension and relax muscles, and provide a relaxation benefit to your neurological system. These benefits can help reduce your perception of pain and soreness, particularly in the temporary window immediately following a hard workout or race.
To help you explore the world of massage guns and choose the best option for your recovery needs, we’ve researched and tested the best models currently on the market and laid them out below.
Best Massage Guns
Best Massage Gun: Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro
Best Massage Gun – Runner-Up: Therabody Theragun Elite
Most Innovative and Versatile Massage Gun: Brazyn Performance Talon Massager
Best Massage Gun for Travel: Therabody Theragun Mini
Best Massage Gun for Travel – Runner-Up: Roll Recovery R1 Percussion
Best Massage Gun: Hyderice Hypervolt 2 Pro ($329)
- Comfortable to hold
- Bluetooth connection to the Hyperice app
- No carrying case included
The Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro is a premium percussive massage tool that includes all the bells and whistles, though what makes it truly stand out is how quiet it is, even at its highest speed setting. If you want the best and are willing to pay for it, this is the massage gun for you. While it’s among the heaviest massage guns in our guide and the Hyperice product line, this device has a smooth-yet-grippy ergonomic handle that makes it easy to lift its hefty weight to apply just the right amount of pressure gently. Speaking of pressure, there are three LED indicator lights to let you know how much pressure you’re applying so that you don’t overdo it. Additionally, there are five speed levels that you can easily move between via a dial on the back of the massage gun.
This device includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is located in the removable handle, a 90-watt motor, and five head attachments, including a fork, ball, cushion, flat head, and bullet. It comes with a charger, four different adapters, and a storage pouch for the massage head attachments. Unfortunately, this massage gun doesn’t have its own carrying case like most other devices tested for this guide. Luckily, the massage head and handle can be disassembled, and it packs down small and is easy to stow. Finally, this massage gun has Bluetooth capability and can connect with the Hyperice app for recovery routines and automated control.
To learn more about this massage gun, read our in-depth review of the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro.
Weight: 2.6 pounds | Amplitude: not listed | Speed Levels: 5 | Claimed Battery Life: 3 hoursShop the Hyderice Hypervolt 2 Pro
Best Massage Gun – Runner-Up: Therabody Theragun Elite ($399)
- Ergonomic handle
- Bluetooth connection to Therabody’s app
- Louder than comparable models
Noticeably lighter weight and just as powerful, the Therabody Theragun Elite is a close second to the Hypervolt 2 Pro as a best overall massage gun. Powered by a 12-volt lithium-ion battery and the quiet QX65 brushless motor, there’s no doubt that this is a high-quality massage gun capable of providing top-notch percussive massage to tired muscles. This device has five speed settings with a top speed of 2,400 percussions per minute (ppm). This setting is the default when you turn it on. You can toggle it down from there via a button on the handle. An LED screen displays battery life, speed, and pressure level. You can operate this massage gun manually, remotely via the Therabody app, or using preset routines that you can program via the app and then select with a button on the device handle.
This massage gun comes with five attachment heads, including a ball, wedge, thumb, cone, and dampener, and it has a triangular ergonomic handle that’s comfortable and easy to hold while letting you tilt the device at various angles to reach target areas of muscle tension. Therabody claims that the massage gun achieves 16 millimeters of amplitude, which is on the high end of these devices and means it can reach deeper into muscle tissue to massage and release tension.
With all of these features, this massage gun is among the best. Unfortunately, it’s noticeably louder than some of our other top picks and the most expensive option on our list. Incredibly, it’s not the most expensive of Theragun’s offerings — while the brand offers other massage guns with added bells and whistles, they come at a significantly higher price point. We think this option is the best value in the line and a worthy choice if you’re seeking the very best.
Weight: 2.2 pounds | Amplitude: 16 millimeters | Speed Levels: 5 | Claimed Battery Life: 2 hoursShop the Therabody Theragun Elite
Most Innovative and Versatile Massage Gun: Brazyn Performance Talon Massager ($239)
- Incredibly lightweight
- Versatile, with four attachment heads, arm extension, and a gua sha scraper
- A lot of components
- No pressure indicator
We’ll be honest; we thought the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager looked slightly ridiculous when we opened its carrying case and began sorting through its various components. When you take the remarkably small and lightweight massage gun and attach the giant talon to its base, it initially seems unwieldy and somewhat silly. But once we switched it on and started using the arm extension to dig into the knots behind our shoulder blades, our skepticism melted away, along with any tension, and we were sold.
This unique device is impressively innovative and versatile. With it, you get a regular massage gun that looks and operates similarly to others. It has a soft, ergonomic handle and four massage heads, including a flat head, fork, ball, and bullet. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery and operated with a button on the top that lets you toggle between four speeds. Brazyn claims this device has a 12.5-millimeter amplitude, which is within the typical range for quality massage guns.
What makes this massage gun truly stand out is its 20-inch arm extension that attaches to the base of the massage gun and adds incredible range to the device. With the extension, it’s easy to access the back muscles, achieve different angles to reach the glutes and hips, and gain more leverage. Additionally, this setup includes a gua sha scraper that can also be attached to the extension arm in lieu of the massage gun for manual massage. Essentially, you get three separate quality massage devices, plus attachments, at a very competitive price point.
Weight: 1.6 pounds (2.4 pounds with arm extension) | Amplitude: 12.5 millimeters | Speed Levels: 4 | Claimed Battery Life: 4 hoursShop the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager
Best Massage Gun for Travel: Therabody Theragun Mini ($199)
- Powerful for its size
- Ergonomic and maneuverable
- The storage pouch doesn’t have room for all three attachments
- No pressure indicator
The small-yet-mighty Therabody Theragun Mini is a powerful handheld massage gun that packs a ton of value into its compact triangular shape. It’s a slightly pared-down version of what you get from a Theragun full-sized model — but only slightly. This handheld device is ergonomically shaped and comfortable to hold. It features three attachment heads, including a ball, thumb, and dampener, a USB-C charging cord, and a storage pouch. Like Therabody’s other massage guns, this one is also Bluetooth-capable, so it can connect to the Therabody app for recovery routines.
This massage gun is operated using a button on the side to turn the device on and off and toggle between three speeds, indicated via LED lights. Therabody claims that this percussive massager achieves 12 millimeters of amplitude, which is comparable to full-sized massage guns and powerful enough to reach deep muscle tissue. The only thing this device lacks is an LED pressure indicator to help prevent you from applying too much pressure. Nonetheless, this is a feature-packed device that’s an incredible value. It makes a great gift and is an especially ideal choice for travel.
Weight: 1.1 pounds | Amplitude: 12 millimeters | Speed Levels: 3 | Claimed Battery Life: 2 hoursShop the Therabody Theragun Mini
Best Massage Gun for Travel – Runner-Up: Roll Recovery R1 Percussion ($129)
- Quietest massager tested
- Great value
- Longest claimed battery life
- Less powerful than other top picks
- No Bluetooth capability or corresponding app
Hands down the quietest massage gun in this guide, the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion emits only a gentle hum that’s actually pretty soothing to the ears. It’s a beautifully crafted device that conveys premium quality in its aesthetic and feel. This small handheld massage gun is lightweight and perfect for travel. It’s rechargeable and operated by a single button on the bottom of the handle that turns the massager on and off and toggles through four speeds.
This massage gun has four attachment heads, including a ball, fork, flat head, and bullet, a USB-C charging cord, and a velvety pouch that can hold all the components and cinch closed. It’s lightweight with an ergonomic feel and textured handle that makes the grip feel secure. Yet despite its premium feel, this massage gun is noticeably less powerful than others in this guide, and Roll Recovery does not make any claims as to its amplitude. However, that didn’t stop me from reaching for it again and again during testing, and it didn’t seem any less capable than the others. Less power also likely leads to this massager having the longest claimed battery life of any others on our list. As such, this massage gun would be a good option for those who want a well-designed, quality device but aren’t necessarily seeking the most powerful one.
Weight: 1.2 pounds | Amplitude: not listed | Speed Levels: 4 | Claimed Battery Life: 7 hoursShop the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion
- Amplitude – This is the displacement created by a vibrating wave. In the context of percussive massage, it is the depth to which a massage gun pushes into the muscle. Most massage guns claim 12 to 14 millimeters of amplitude.
- Percussive massage – A massage technique that applies rapid, repetitive pressure to the soft tissue and vibration therapy to the outer layer of skin to release muscle tension, facilitate blood flow, and relax muscles.
- Vibration massage – A massage technique that involves pressing and releasing muscle tissue in an up-and-down movement. It can also include shaking the muscles to stimulate blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
- Fascia – Thin connective tissue that wraps and holds every bone, muscle, organ, blood vessel, and nerve fiber in the body. Tight fascia can restrict muscle and joint movement.
- Myofascial release – A massage treatment to release tension in the fascia caused by trauma, inflammation, or posture.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Massage Gun
Vibration Versus Percussive Massage
Vibration massage involves pressing and releasing muscle tissue in an up-and-down motion and shaking muscles to stimulate blood flow and promote healing. Percussive massage uses rapid, repetitive pressure applied to soft tissue to stimulate blood flow, release tension, and relax muscles. Percussive massage can include vibration massage therapy to the outer skin surrounding the muscle tissue. If these two massage techniques sound similar, it’s because they are. The key difference is that percussive massage can reach deeper into the muscle tissue. A percussive massager with a large amplitude, like the Therabody Theragun Elite, can reach deep into the muscles to promote recovery.
The massage guns in this guide use percussive massage. The best massage guns are designed to apply and release pressure against the muscle in an up-and-down motion. Examples of vibration massage therapy include vibrating foam rollers, orbs, and foot massagers. These can also provide a recovery benefit, but they differ slightly from the percussive massage instruments in this guide.
The more power a massage gun has, the more deeply it can impact your muscle tissue. Note, however, it is possible to overdo it and cause bruising or other damage. The most powerful tool is not necessarily the best for you.
When choosing the best massage gun for your needs, consider your recovery goals and the kind of experience you want. If you crave a higher-intensity experience, though it should never feel painful, opt for a more powerful tool like the Therabody Theragun Elite. If you’re happy with moderate intensity, any of the massage guns we recommend would be worth considering. And if you prefer a gentler, less intense experience, you might look to the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion, which is on the lower intensity end of the spectrum among the devices in this guide.
Outside of this guide, how do you know how powerful a massage gun is? Its price will be a key clue — typically, more powerful massage guns are more expensive. Aside from price, you can consider amplitude if the manufacturer provides it. An amplitude of at least 10 millimeters is a good baseline. Most of the devices in this guide have a claimed amplitude of around 12 millimeters, and the Therabody Theragun Elite is on the higher end at 16 millimeters.
Amplitude, in general, refers to the displacement of matter by a vibrating wave. In the context of this guide, the amplitude is the depth to which a massage gun pushes into the muscle. Most massage guns claim 12 to 14 millimeters of amplitude. However, not all manufacturers list amplitude. If you see a massage gun with less than 10 millimeters of amplitude, it may not be powerful enough to promote recovery. On the other hand, more than 16 millimeters is probably more than you need. The Therabody Theragun Elite has the largest amplitude of the massage guns in this guide.
Fortunately, most massage guns currently available have a rechargeable battery, making these devices exceptionally portable and easier to charge between uses. In this guide, manufacturer claims regarding battery life range from seven hours on the high end for the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion to two hours on the low end for the Therabody Theragun Mini and the Therabody Theragun Elite. However, massage guns should only be used for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time, so the likelihood that one of these devices is used for two hours or more is low. As a result, if you’re in a place with regular access to electricity and an outlet for recharging your massage gun between uses, battery life may not be a significant factor in your purchasing decision.
Massage gun manufacturers communicate speed in different ways, but the most common way is in percussions per minute (ppm) or repetitions per minute (rpm), which is really the same thing. The typical speed range is between 1,700 ppm and 3,200 ppm, and the massage guns in this guide offer three, four, or five speed levels. The top massage guns in this guide, the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro and the Therabody Theragun Elite have five speed settings. Having the option to choose different speeds can help you vary your massage experience and recovery routine, especially if you’re using a device with a Bluetooth connection to an app with programmable routines. Keep in mind that while different speeds provide different sensations, higher speed does not equate to more powerful percussive massage.
Like speed variations, attachment heads let you change up your experience and target knots or points of tension in different ways. All of the massage guns above come with at least three attachment heads. Common attachments include the ball, fork, and bullet. The Roll Recovery R1 Percussion, Brazyn Performance Talon Massager, and Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro also have flat attachments. The ball is usually the default, while the fork and the bullet tend to be made with firmer material and can help you target a precise location or smaller surface area. Most massage guns come with either a user guide or an app that explains how to use different attachments effectively.
How much a massage gun’s noise factors into your purchasing decision will be a matter of personal preference. Most manufacturers will tell you how quiet their technology is, but it really comes down to your sensitivity to noise.
Generally, the higher-end massage guns tend to be quieter. The Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro and the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion stood out for their lack of sound in this guide. None of the devices above are particularly loud, though the Therabody Theragun Elite has a higher pitch sound.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Accompanying Apps
For some, a massage gun’s Bluetooth capability will be key, while others won’t care about its existence. Whether you opt for the app and its features and programs totally depends on the experience you want to have. Most devices included here have Bluetooth connectivity and a corresponding app (except the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager and the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion). Among the others, the offerings are similar. They have pre-programmed routines, tips and tricks, and remote or automated control. Note, Hyperice and Therabody both have an array of “smart” recovery tools that connect to a single app, so if you’re investing in multiple tools, it may be worth sticking to one brand and, therefore, one app.
The best massage guns run the gamut when it comes to price, from less than $100 to $600. To an extent, you get what you pay for. The higher-priced massage guns are typically more powerful and offer many features, including multiple speed levels, Bluetooth connectivity, premium materials, quieter operation, a pressure indicator, and more. The lowest-cost options tend to look, feel, and sound cheaper. They might sound like a lawn mower or have a cheap plastic handle. One device we tested shut off with the slightest pressure — how annoying!
In general, when looking for the best massage gun, we avoided the least and most expensive options when researching the marketplace for this guide since most people probably want something in the middle. The best value massage guns fall in the price range of around $150 to $400. In this guide, the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion is a premium massage gun that costs only $129. The Therabody Theragun Mini is also a great value at $199. These are an excellent choice for a relatively reasonable cost.
Any of the tools in this guide will travel relatively well — they’re all TSA-approved to be carried on and pack down fairly small. The Brazyn Performance Talon Massager is one possible exception. It has many components, and its carrying case is still on the larger side — however, even this device is quite portable if you leave the extension arm behind. The Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro can be disassembled into two pieces, so it’s straightforward to stow, while the Therabody Theragun Elite doesn’t pack down relatively as small, but it does come with its own storage case.
That said, The best traveling options are the Therabody Theragun Mini and the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion. These massage devices are small and compact, comfortable to hold, lightweight, less expensive than full-sized models, and — best of all — they sacrifice very little in performance. As a result, these two make great travel companions and offer a great value.
Why You Should Trust Us
The iRunFar team comprises road, trail, and ultrarunners with 150-plus years of running experience. We began this buyer’s guide with extensive research into the running recovery marketplace to discover the best massage gun currently available in a variety of categories.
From there, author Alli Hartz refined a list of the top choices. She then tested a wide range of massage guns over many weeks. As she built up her mileage while training for a 100-mile race, Alli tested each of these massage guns and narrowed the selections to the best options listed above.
Please note that product models are routinely discontinued in the recovery equipment world, while new ones frequently come to market. At the same time, we here at iRunFar often use our top picks in our daily running… they’re our top picks, after all! Sometimes that continued use results in uncovering product failures. With all this – product discontinuations, product introductions, and product failures – in mind, we routinely update our buyer’s guides based on past and ongoing testing and research by our authors and editorial team. While these updates can appear to be us pushing the newest product, it’s anything but that. Most products will likely remain the same when we update any buyer’s guide. That matches our goal: to get you in the best gear you’ll use for a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions about Massage Guns
How does a massage gun help with running recovery?
A massage gun uses percussive massage and vibration therapy to apply and release pressure to the muscle tissue rapidly. This technique can theoretically help break up adhesions and stimulate blood flow to the muscle to help heal and repair tissue inflamed or damaged by strenuous physical efforts. Additionally, this type of therapy can help relax muscles and release tension, promoting blood flow, repair, and healing while reducing soreness. Incorporating a small massage gun, like the Therabody Theragun Mini, into your recovery routine, whether you’re at home, at the gym, or on the road, can help with recovery anywhere you are.
What are the benefits of percussive massage?
Muscles sustain damage during a hard workout or race, such as micro-tears. Muscle tissue and tendons can become inflamed, and muscle fibers can stick together and create adhesions. Percussive massage may help kickstart the recovery process by helping stimulate blood flow, break up adhesions, and release tension in fatigued or damaged muscles. While the actual science on this is mixed, using a massage gun like the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro can feel good and, if used properly, won’t hurt.
Do massage guns really work?
Massage guns are a massage therapy tool, and the science of massage therapy and exercise recovery is mixed — particularly regarding the claims that massage promotes blood circulation and lymphatic flow. That said, studies have indicated that massage therapy can help reduce post-exercise pain, such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This benefit is more related to the neurological effects of massage — namely, an increased release of beta-endorphins and a decrease in stress hormones — than blood flow. Read more about this topic in our article, A Million Modalities: The Science of Exercise Recovery. The bottom line is that using a massage gun like the Therabody Theragun Elite can provide a short-term benefit after a hard workout.
Why am I sore after using a massage gun?
You should not be sore from using a massage gun — if you are, you likely overdid it. These powerful devices only need a few minutes per muscle group and not much pressure to affect the muscle tissue. It’s a good idea to err on the side of being too gentle and avoid the risk of injury or pain. A powerful massage gun, like the Therabody Theragun Elite with its 16 millimeters amplitude, must be used carefully. Many massage guns in this guide, including the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro, have pressure indicators to help prevent you from applying too much pressure.
If you’re sore from your workout, it’s possible that the recovery provided by a massage gun simply isn’t enough to prevent it. They are, after all, only a tool to help recovery and not a complete prevention of soreness or DOMS. If this is the case, hydrate and rest, and you’ll probably feel better within a few days.
Are massage guns safe?
Massage guns are safe when used as directed by the manufacturer and your doctor, physical therapist, or other medical professional. Read the instruction manual included with the device carefully, and follow its recommendations. Generally, massage guns should be used for a few minutes at a time on muscle groups, not on bones, and never to the point of pain. If you’re uncertain about using a massage gun, we suggest seeking advice from a medical professional. The pressure indicators of massage guns like the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro, which we named our best massage gun, can help you control the amount of pressure you’re applying to your muscles.
Is it ok to use a massage gun every day?
As with other recovery tools, using a massage gun daily is appropriate as long as it is not painful and you use it as directed by the manufacturer and your medical professional. A massage gun can help release tension and promote relaxation if your muscles are fatigued or slightly sore. However, if you are experiencing very tight or sore muscles or tendons, an injury, or intense physical discomfort, it’s better to let your body begin the healing process on its own before using a massage gun. If you’re uncertain, we recommend consulting a medical professional. Getting a massage gun with a pressure indicator, such as the Therabody Theragun Elite, can also help protect your muscles.
What is the best recovery after running?
The best recovery immediately after running — especially a hard workout or a race — is to jog slowly or walk. Hydrating and fueling adequately before, during, and after your run will also help you recover faster. Stretching, foam rolling, and using other tools like the Roll Recovery R1 Percussion while your muscles are still warm is also an excellent way to help boost post-run recovery. Finally, getting adequate and high-quality sleep throughout your training block will support recovery as you increase running volume and intensity. For more recovery tips, check out our article, A Million Modalities: The Science of Exercise Recovery.
How can I improve my recovery from running?
Running recovery includes everything from doing a post-workout cooldown to keeping your easy runs easy to foam rolling and stretching, getting a massage or using massage tools like the Brazyn Performance Talon Massager, and managing nutrition, sleep, and life stress. Prioritizing recovery as much as your workouts or strength-training sessions is an important first step. Build in time for your recovery and develop a routine, and you’ll soon make it a regular habit. To learn more about recovery and the tools available, look at our guide to the Best Recovery Tools for Athletes.
There are so many recovery tools! How do I decide which workout recovery tool I need?
We recommend keeping it simple, whether you’re just starting your recovery routine or focusing on taking it up a notch. Start with the small steps that make a big difference, like getting regular, high-quality sleep, managing daily stress, and ensuring your nutrition is sufficient and well-balanced. Next, make sure you’re building time into your schedule for recovery. There’s no point in purchasing a bunch of tools if they’re just going to sit there because you don’t have time to use them. Start by making a regular habit of stretching and relaxing for 10 to 15 minutes after each run. Then consider tools that will improve your recovery routine, whether that’s a foam roller, foot massager, massage stick, massage gun, compression boots, or something else. The Roll Recovery R1 Percussion is a reasonably priced massage gun to get started with. If you need other ideas, check out our Best Recovery Tools for Athletes guide.
- Best Recovery Tools for Athletes
- Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro Review
- A Million Modalities: The Science of Exercise Recovery
Call for Comments
- Do you use a massage gun? What’s your favorite?
- What is your running recovery routine?