No matter how much you love your foam roller, a massage gun just reaches some spots that a foam roller can’t. Every runner should have one in their recovery arsenal!
But do you know what to look for when choosing a massage gun? It’s an investment, so you want to ensure that the one you choose is high-quality, durable, and powerful.
In this article, we’ll go through a few things you should consider when buying a massage gun.
Why Use a Massage Gun?
A massage gun can be a helpful tool for everyone from serious athletes to casual gym-goers. The majority of people use a massage gun for one of (or possibly all) three reasons:
- Warming up your muscles before exercise by bringing blood to the muscles
- Speeding up healing during recovery by increasing circulation
- Relieving pain and stiffness by working out knots in muscles
It’s a versatile tool that can be used during every phase of sport and fitness, although it’s most often used for recovery purposes.
Knowing what you’re more likely to use your massage gun for can help you carefully select the appropriate features to ensure that you’re getting a gun that works for you and your needs.
Features to Look for When Choosing a Massage Gun
Amplitude is the range in which the head of the massage gun moves back and forth. In a massage gun with a lower amplitude, the head will move a shorter distance from its resting point to the deepest point it goes into your muscle.
Massage guns with a higher amplitude will move a larger distance between those two points, which causes the head to travel deeper into the muscle, offering a more effective massage.
The most effective massage guns have a high amplitude, around 16 mm. These massage guns can provide an intense massaging feeling even at low speeds, making them quite effective.
RPM means revolutions per minute—how many times the massage gun hits in one minute. The higher this number, the more intense the vibration of the massage.
2,000 to 3,200 RPM is the standard range. This is usually effective for a comfortable but stimulating massage.
But it does depend on what you need—a lower RPM is excellent for warming the muscles up and getting the blood flowing, while a high RPM is preferable for actively working out knots in the muscles.
The speed settings are important as they give you options for your massage. You want your massage gun to have several speed settings to choose the right one for your muscles at every point in time.
Most massage guns are designed to be used wirelessly for convenience and ease. But good battery life is also essential. You’ll never be able to get a good massage if your battery keeps dying halfway through your session!
Some guns have removable batteries, which is handy because you can replace the dead battery with a fully charged one, so you’re never without your massage gun.
Whether you choose a massage gun with a built-in battery or a removable one, it’s wise to choose one with a battery that recharges quickly and lasts 2 to 3 hours once charged.
A ball head attachment is the most common attachment included when you buy a massage gun. Some include a bullet head as well.
Ball heads are effective for most muscles. Bullet head attachments work well for small trigger points, as you can pinpoint the sore spot quite effectively.
Some massage guns have multiple attachment heads, while others include only one or two. If you want options, you should consider a massage gun that comes with a variety of choices.
Those that come with only one or two usually offer different heads that can be bought separately, including fork attachments and flat attachments.
Wielding a heavy massage gun while targeting a specific point on a muscle isn’t comfortable.
If you’re going to be using your gun for more than just a few minutes at a time, you want it to be light enough to maneuver comfortably without causing your arm or hand muscles to fatigue.
Weight distribution is another factor to consider. Can you hold the gun easily without it tipping over? If it’s top-heavy, you’ll have to work extra hard to maneuver it where you need it to go.
Massage guns come in a pretty typical L-shaped style. There are some—like the Therabody Theragun—with a somewhat different shape, but it’s important to choose one that will be easy to handle.
You may want to consider the size of the handle section. If you or anyone else who may use it has small hands, choosing one with a slimmer handle would probably be better.
Ease of Use
Some massage guns come with display screens and companion apps, but whatever gun you choose, it should be easy to use.
If you find that a display screen helps make your massage gun easier, then, by all means, choose a gun with a screen.
But we advise thinking carefully about what you need on a massage gun. If a display screen isn’t going to make using the gun easier for you, it may not be worth spending extra on a gun that has one. The same is true for other features you may or may not need.
Will you be using your massage gun only at home, or will you take it to the gym, on vacation, or other places? If you’re planning on using it anywhere other than at home, you want the massage gun you choose to be easy to carry with you in a bag or suitcase.
Weight will be important here, as well as shape. If you’re going to be carrying it back and forth from home to the gym, it will make more sense to buy a lightweight massage gun.
Some brands—like Therabody—make travel-sized massage guns specifically designed for portability, but these are less powerful than regular ones.
If you’re using your massage gun in the bedroom while your spouse is trying to watch TV or sleep, the quieter it is, the better!
Some devices, especially the more powerful ones, can be quite loud. If others in the house don’t mind, or if you’re only going to use it alone, it’s less important.
But if, for example, you want to use it in the office or at the gym, you may want to choose one with less noise to avoid annoying others nearby.
A good product warranty isn’t an absolute necessity, but it’s a good idea to choose a product that offers one.
It indicates that the manufacturer is confident in their product, but it covers you in the (unlikely) case that there’s a manufacturing defect or an operating error.
We advise double-checking the coverage period and the terms of claiming before purchasing a particular product.
We advise doing your research and reading user reviews before choosing your product. In many cases, the warranty’s fine print is missed, and you may find yourself in hot water if you need to claim!
Other people’s experiences can give you a good idea of what to expect and the ease of the claiming process.