These percussive massagers can loosen tight spots and help relieve muscle soreness.
When it comes to working out, recovery is just as important as the itself. Most approaches to muscle recovery involve a blend of physical manipulation and nutrition, but you can also take advantage of high-tech recovery tools meant to (including the hard-to-resist CBD-infused activewear). While many athletes might have hit up a massage therapist prior to the pandemic, solutions that can be utilized themselves in the comfort of their own home are increasingly popular. This has led to the rise of the massage gun. Trying to determine the best massage gun for your needs can be a challenge, so let's break down the ins and outs of how these percussive massagers work and why they can be so helpful.
A massage gun uses the force of -- also known as vibration therapy -- to manipulate your body's soft tissue. They're essentially backed by the same extensive scientific research that supports massage therapy as the optimal tool for treating a sore muscle after a workout. Everyone from recreational gym-goers to professional athletes and people with chronic pain -- they all love percussion therapy from these powerful massagers for many reasons.
Percussive therapy is said to help muscles recover faster while reducing muscle pain, muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup. They can also help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. A percussion gun allows you to focus on a certain muscle group or muscle knots for immediate pain relief. They can also improve your range of motion and flexibility, encourage blood flow, help with muscle stiffness and more. Percussive therapy may even help with and . Also, not that you should invest in a muscle massage gun for this reason alone, but the slow-motion videos of massage guns punching muscles look insanely Insta-worthy. Just using a massage gun if you have any injuries beyond muscle ache from a tough workout.
We've tested more than 30 massage guns at this point and the following six are CNET's picks for the best massage gun options for 2022 for muscle recovery and pain relief. We'll continue to update this best massage gun list.
The Theragun Prime is part of the fourth generation of Theragun massage guns. Its prior equivalent was the Theragun Liv, which used to be in this list of best massage guns, and is also reviewed in-depth here.
The Theragun Prime's main impressive feature is that it's much quieter than its now-defunct counterpart. In fact, the Prime rivals the famously quiet Hypervolt Plus in terms of volume level -- that's a massive improvement from the Liv.
The improvements don't stop there, though: Where the Theragun Liv only had two preprogrammed speeds and came with two closed-cell foam attachments, the new Theragun Prime has five built-in speeds (from 1,750 rpm to 2,400 rpm) and comes with four closed-cell foam massage gun attachment heads.
At $299, the Theragun Prime is pricey, but doesn't induce sticker shock quite like the Pro G4 (below). This percussion massager sometimes goes on sale for $249, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
To me, the improvements make the Theragun Prime seem well worth the price. The competition to the Prime, to me, is the original Hypervolt: These two massage guns have many similar features and hover around the same price range. The choice is yours for the making!
Therabody's Theraguns are considered the gold standard in percussive therapy, so its most luxurious, feature-rich muscle gun model must be one of the best, right?
In all truth, I have to say yes. Having tested more than 20 massage guns, including three other Theraguns, the Theragun Pro is pretty dang impressive -- especially compared to the previous line of Therabody massage guns. (The Theragun G3, a similar percussion massager version, was previously on this list. You can read our full review to learn more.)
The Theragun Pro G4 is, first and foremost, much quieter than its former iteration. Loudness has been a chief complaint of Theragun buyers since the company's early days, and the brand finally made a move to remedy that.
I'm not saying the Pro G4 is silent -- the noise level is still louder than most other massage guns -- but it doesn't rattle my brain like the G3 did, thanks to Theragun's new QuietForce Technology. If you're an athlete or serious exerciser who can deal with a massage device that sounds like a muted turkey carver (and you're willing to pay top dollar for percussive therapy at your fingertips), the Theragun Pro G4 is a great choice for you.
With up to 60 pounds of force, a rotating arm and ergonomic handle, a deep reach of 16mm into your muscle tissue, and speeds up to 2,400 repetitions per minute, the Theragun Pro is built for those who need legitimate percussive therapy multiple times per week. In short, this percussion massager is the real deal, but it's probably not worth it for the average exerciser.
Previously, the TimTam All New Power Massager was my pick for the best high-powered massage gun, but if you have money to spend, you can't beat the power and relative quietness of the Theragun Pro.
The Hypervolt Go is the newest launch from Hyperice, and it's lighter, smaller and the most affordable gun in the Hypervolt line. At $160, it's a great deal for a gun that's nearly as powerful as the full-size models that retail for $300 and up. It weighs 1.5 pounds, making it ideal for travel when you don't want to compromise precious space in your carry-on or gym bag.
I tested the Hypervolt Go and was seriously impressed at how powerful the gun felt. Compared to the Hypervolt (which I also tested), I almost could not tell a difference in terms of force. The full-size Hypervolt does come with more attachments (the Go has two), but the Go also has three speed settings, which is still impressive for a small gun. If you're new to massage guns and are looking for a solid product to try at a lower price, the Go is a great product to start with.
-- Mercey Livingston, CNET contributor
Compex Fixx 1.0 Massager
The Compex massage gun feels like a cross between TimTam and Theragun. It has an adjustable head and three speeds, so while it's nothing spectacular, it gets the job done.