What You Need To Know When Buying a Massage Gun
What is a massage gun and what can it do?
A massage gun is a mobility device that makes use of an oscillating attachment to physically target areas of the body with rapid pulses. By rapidly hitting the muscle fibers with a gentle wave, we are able to loosen up the tight knots in the area, reduce muscle soreness, as well as improving blood flow.
Some Benefits For Using a Massage Gun.
- Helps relieve muscle soreness and stiffness
- Improves range of motion
- Promotes circulation
- Muscle Activation and recovery
- Lightweight, easy-to-use for self-myofascial release
What are some of the important points to take note of when getting your massage gun?
- Noise/Sound Level
- Battery Life
- Attachment Heads
- Included Extras
Massage guns can be broadly categorised into 2 types: 1. Percussion, like the Theragun G3 Pro, and 2. Vibration, like the Hyperice Hypervolt. There is no one best device for everyone as each individual user’s needs and preferences have to be considered before determining which type is most suitable.
Generally speaking, the main difference between both types has to do with the amplitude of the device.
What is Amplitude?
The higher the amplitude, the further the head will travel and the deeper the gun will hit. You will feel that it is much stronger! Devices with a higher amplitude such as the TheraGun G3Pro (16mm amplitude) are considered Percussion types and feel ‘punchier’ than Vibration type massage guns like the Hypervolt.
Even though speed is commonly used to determine the intensity of the massage (higher speed=more intense), devices with higher amplitudes can feel more intense even at a lower speed. For example, the TheraGun G3Pro working at 2400 RPM can feel even more intense than the Hypervolt working at 3200 RPM.
Note: Stall Force/torque also has to be considered; a high amplitude device with low stall force will not be able to hit deep. E.g. TheraGun G3Pro has about 27kg of stall force, which is the weight you can exert on the device before it stalls and stops moving. This enables the user to exert more pressure to reach deeper into the target area.
Usually, we see Percussion devices preferred by users who are more physically active such as athletes, as they tend to have a higher pain tolerance and require deeper and more intense stimulation for muscle release.
The regular user on the other hand, might find them too harsh and intense and in their case, a Vibration device is probably more suitable.
Thus, it is important to try out and compare different devices to tell which feels better for you. A high or low amplitude can be a pro and a con depending on your needs.
What is RPM?
RPM stands for revolutions per minute i.e., how many times the massage gun can hit in one minute!
As mentioned above, the higher the speed, the higher the intensity of the massage. The majority of massage guns feature a speed range of around 2000 RPM to 3200 RPM.
Just like with amplitude, there is no best speed for everyone. It is more beneficial, however, to have a device that has a range of speeds to select from. For example, the Hypervolt has 3 speed selections that users can choose depending on their preference. Lower speeds can be used for warming up muscles or very sore muscles which are more sensitive. Higher speeds can be used for very stiff muscles or deep tight knots.
In this short video below, we did a comparison on the Sound and Amplitude of the Gun.
When using massage guns, there will inevitably be noise generated by the motor units. This is important to consider as some devices can be uncomfortably noisy, especially when using in an enclosed room, or if using it on areas closer to the ears.
If you’re looking at video reviews, it can be quite hard to really get a feel of how loud a device is. Always try out the massage gun in person if possible!
Much like mobile phones, battery life is important for wireless handheld massage guns as no one likes to have to charge their devices after every use. It is especially important for heavy users such as therapists to have a longer device battery life to be able to treat their clients throughout the day. We tend to prefer battery life of at least 60 minutes to minimise charging frequency.
Do note that for devices such as the TheraGun G3Pro that provide more than one battery pack, the other battery/batteries can be charged while you’re using the first battery, enabling you to constantly switch out batteries for use. This means less downtime as your device is ready for use at any one time.
Compare this to the Hypervolt which may have a longer battery life, but come with only one battery which has to be charged when depleted, and with no other batteries available, cannot be used during this time.
Depending on the user, different attachment heads may be preferred for different applications. Standard attachments like the ball or bullet head are commonly included for most devices but unique attachment heads can provide a more complete experience.
For example, the cone, thumb, and wedge attachments included with the TheraGun G3Pro are great for working on smaller areas of the body due to their shape and size while the Hypervolt’s fork attachment allows users to work around sensitive areas such as bones and tendons.
Do have a feel of the weight of the devices before making a decision. If you’re concerned about the weight as soon as you pick it up, you’ll be feeling it a lot more 2 minutes into your massage.
Try to target hard-to-reach areas as they require you to get into an awkward position. If you can’t maintain the position of the massage gun for long then you’re better off enlisting the help of a partner or choosing a lighter device.
You might think: I don’t really care how my massage gun looks as long as it works. However, the design we are talking about is not about aesthetics but the practical aspect.
For example, both the Hypervolt and the TheraGun G3Pro are pretty well-balanced in terms of weight distribution which reduces the strain on the wrist and arms when using for prolonged periods of time. In addition the G3Pro also features an adjustable arm which allows users to set the attachment heads at different angle to reach up to 90% of the body. Poorly-designed devices may have uneven weight distribution, or are bulky and hard to use.
As with any other high-value investment, it is crucial that a product warranty is provided in case of any defects or premature failure. Apart from warranty coverage period, the ease of warranty claim is also very important to consider, especially if the device was purchased from overseas.
Usually, overseas manufacturers will require the defective item to be shipped back to them for a warranty claim, with the customer usually bearing any freight/shipping costs which will also tend to take a long time to process. Do look out for a local warranty provided as it can mean saving on time, money, and effort.
It is often easy to just compare the price of one device to another without looking at everything else as a whole. After all, a massage gun is only a massage gun right? Not quite, actually. Depending on what is included, your experience with one device may be much different than with another.
Take the G3Pro for instance. On paper it is one of the more costly options in the market but potential buyers tend to not be aware of what it includes. The G3Pro comes with an 2 batteries, which is 1 more than most competitors out there. A travel case and a charging dock is also included, items that are usually separate purchases if even available. A very handy companion app is also available on your smartphone with a lot of information from different techniques to use for different conditions/situations, down to troubleshooting common problems that a user might encounter. Chances are, using the G3Pro will be much less of a hassle compared to most.
Do watch out for cheap knock-offs from overseas sellers as 1. quality may or may not be up to standard, 2. warranty claims are usually troublesome, 3. items may not even arrive at all, and 4. product safety might not be assured. These tend to look very similar in terms of design to existing products from reputable brands.
If you are basing your purchasing decision solely on watching YouTube videos or reading user reviews, you’re really only doing half your homework. Always, always get a hands-on experience whenever available as anything else is basically a gamble that your massage gun will work out for you. We can list all the factors to consider when choosing your device but notice that most require you to decide for yourself once you’ve experience it in person.