A massage is a life-changing experience, especially when you’re an athlete and constantly deal with pains and aches.
A few sweeps over the main pressure points, and in your back, leave you feeling less stressed and in a lot less pain.
Sports massage comes in handy for both recreational exercisers and elite athletes and can be used pre and post-performance, during training, or for rehabilitating their bodies.
However, not everyone can afford the full spa or masseuse service, or even have time to go there.
That’s where a hand-held percussion massager comes in.
This popular tool resembles power drills and helps decrease soreness, improve blood flow, aid with recovery after workouts, and increase range of motion by beating your body’s muscles into submission.
Benefits of Using a Percussion Massager
Also known as a massage gun, the percussion massager is available today at various price points and for different types of users from chiropractors to trainers and regular workout buffs.
These little machines save you the money you’d otherwise have spent on physical therapy sessions and soothe your aches by giving you a spa-like experience in the comfort of your home.
Instead of visiting a masseuse, you can work out the kinks yourself by using a massage gun and enjoy benefits such as decreased pain, stress and tissue tension, blood circulation, enhanced recovery, and range of motion.
You can also use it to warm up your muscles pre-workout or decrease soreness and tightness post-workout.
How to Choose a Percussion Massager
Before investing in a percussion massager, here are a few considerations to make so you can pick the one that’s best for your needs and budget.
Features: Percussion massagers come in low-end and high-end models.
The latter offers more application choices and features, but you need to learn how to use each and apply with caution.
Low-end ones can be a good investment too if you know how their features work.
Reliability: The massager should be well made so that it won’t malfunction while you’re using it, especially as an athlete because sometimes you can have injuries.
Noise: A loud percussion massager is definitely not going to help you relax, even though it gets the job done.
If you’re a masseuse or physical therapist, a noisy massager will interfere with your communication with customers.
Treatment needs to remain quiet without the massager sounding like a power tool.
Battery life: The percussion massager’s battery should be able to last several days on a single charge, plus should allow you to carry it around without worrying about finding a charging outlet.
Weight: Find something that’s manageable and portable so you can carry it with you for when you’re on the go, plus you’re able to use it with ease.
Number of tips: Percussion massagers vary based on the number of tips available for more specific or generalized applications.
Check also the differentiation of the tips as which offers versatility in terms of working on your muscles.
Intensity: Different parts of your body will require different massage intensities, which means you need to look for a percussion massager that offers different speed ranges.
Intensity is measured in pulses (per minute), so you can look for one that offers at least 2,800 pulses per minute.
Torque: Torque levels work with the pulse-per-minute to produce the overall intensity of the massager, with the standard being 60lbs.
Low torque can cut out while you’re using the gun.
Budget: A good massage gun worth investing in could cost anywhere from $250 and up.
These are legit brands with high-quality standards, instead of getting knockoffs that are unreliable and can let you down or cause more harm than good.
The Best Percussion Massagers Right Now
There are several percussion massagers on the market right now.
They vary by the intensity of their vibrations, whether it’s back and forth, upward or downward, or even sideways.
Some also have set programs for specific body tissues and muscles.
In no particular order, here’s a roundup of the 10 best percussion massagers you can choose from.
This percussion massager is developed for fitness enthusiasts and elite athletes.
It drills into your body’s muscles with great intensity, clocking up to 3,200 percussions a minute.
A single percussion offers 30 percent more power targeting sore muscles, and its battery delivers up to two hours of use on a single charge.
This gun has a T-shaped design so it’s easy and comfortable to grip, plus five interchangeable head attachments with intensity settings you can adjust for a great massage experience.
Its signature Quiet Glide Technology makes it quiet while in use, and its built-in pressure sensor technology makes for more accurate therapeutic sessions as you get visual feedback throughout the session.
It’s ultra-portable, thanks to its 2.5-pound body and ergonomic design, so you can use it on the go and pack it away in its travel case that comes in the package when you purchase the gun.
Theragun is a well-known brand in the massage gun market, and this top-of-the-line G3 Pro does the job well.
It delivers 2,400 percussions each minute and comes with an adjustable arm and six attachments able to target every nook and cranny.
Its battery life lasts for up to 75 minutes of use, but the batteries are swappable for continuous use.
Its four adjustable arm angles offer a highly customizable deep muscle treatment to blast away the tightest of knots, plus two-speed settings – standard or sensitive.
The standard speed delivers maximum force deep tissue massage at 40 pulses a second, while sensitive is good for gentler massage therapy delivering 29 pulses per second.
You can carry it with you to training or gym sessions as it comes with a travel case when you purchase the package.
This is a strong power percussion massager created by George St-Pierre, an MMA legend, and Kelly Starrett, a mobility coach who understand recovery pretty well and its importance to athletes.
It delivers a maximum rate of 2,000 percussions per minute and helps break down knots, releases stored lactic acid, and increases blood flow.
It’s also good for chronic pain.
Its patent-pending threaded shaft offers superior performance and durability, while its 90-degree articulating head and various thread-on tips make it versatile for a variety of applications.
Plus, it’s lightweight and portable for comfortable operation.
The massager comes with a standard 12V lithium-ion battery, complete with a charger, round massage tip and hand carry case.
This deep tissue percussion massager soothes post-workout pain and soreness in your back, shoulders, neck, calves, legs, and feet so you can be rejuvenated and relaxed.
Its motor produces 3,600 pulses every minute for an efficient deep tissue massage that removes knots and kinks from your body, speeding up muscle recovery.
Five interchangeable attachments are included for different massage types on your muscles, plus three strength modes and four different percussion modes, which you can combine to relieve muscle pain.
The tool is powered by lithium-ion batteries that can last up to 140 minutes on a single charge.
Its cordless design and compact body make it portable whether you want to pack it in your gym bag or carry-on.
This massager looks different in its design compared to the norm as it features a unique dual-head design that really gets in deep into the body tissues and delivers a professional-strength massage in the comfort of your home.
It also has three sets of removable attachments for three massage types: acupressure, deep tissue, and Swedish massage, delivering 3,350 pulses every minute.
Customizable speed settings are available if you want to adjust the intensity of the massage to your recovery needs.
The gun is lightweight and easy to use thanks to its ergonomic slip handle, except it isn’t wireless like other massage guns here. Otherwise, for its price, it’s totally worth the investment.
6. Pleno M3.0
This is another good percussion massager with powerful capability.
It features a six-speed shift adjustment design so you can adjust the amplitude, frequency, and torque for a customizable massage therapy experience for your needs.
Four attachments are included for accessing trigger points – a large circular ball and standard ball for large muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, and others, plus general use respectively.
For trigger points, you can use the cone and experience relief from soreness and tension.
Its swinging head is adjustable, plus the gun is lightweight so you can carry it with you on the go.
Wahl is a full-body percussion massager that helps you relieve fatigue and muscle pain.
It packs higher power and lower pulses per minute compared to the competition, and average massage guns.
It also delivers 4,000 pulses a minute that delivers a deeper massage on your body muscles than other percussion massagers.
The gun features four interchangeable heads that target, massage, and relax your body muscles effectively and in different ways.
Many other guns either stop or slow down when pressed deeply into the muscles, but this Wahl gun keeps moving with more pressure.
It’s a great tool for breaking up deep knots that would otherwise have been difficult to do with an average massage gun.
This massager offers a double-head design that gets deep into your muscles with 3,400 pulses per minute.
It comes with three attachments you can pick from, plus two heating options that allow you to intensely and gently massage your back, neck, arms, shoulders, legs, and feet.
It also helps boost blood circulation while soothing your body parts by massaging the painful spots gently.
Its handle is long enough, plus the surface is anti-grip so you won’t lose leverage while trying to reach the difficult spots.
This percussion massager is a bit pricier than others on this list because it packs powerful accessories and customizability that make stress and pain a thing of the past.
It comes highly recommended by physical therapists and chiropractors for a professional-grade experience, offering both soothing micro-vibration and deep tissue percussive therapy.
This helps relax muscle spasms, break up knots, boost muscle recovery, and improve circulation.
It comes with six different attachments that target different body parts and types of pain so you can get effective treatment from head to toe, with an ergonomic design for hard to reach areas like the back and legs.
You can use it to relieve jaw pain, migraines, back pain, or even feet cramps as it can reach practically every nook and cranny of your body, besides the soft tissue.
Pure Enrichment designed this deep tissue percussion manager with a handheld palm and extended handle design so you can massage easy-to-reach muscles.
It has a comfortable grip regardless of the design you use, plus two massage settings depending on the relief you want to get – whether that’s a soft and relaxing massage on tense muscles, or deep and maximum muscle penetration.
With the extended handle, you can use the ring-style handle so you can grip better without worrying about dropping the massager.
You can also remove the massager from the long handle thanks to the detachable Velcro hand strap and massage your muscles using your hand.
An infrared heating option is included for maximum relief.
Percussion massagers or massage guns are more helpful than using foam rollers or massage sticks as they get those deep knots using various rapid movements and vibrations.
This also means you get a professional-feeling massage from the comfort of your own home.
You don’t have to depend on the pressure from your hands or the weight of your body.
Just rub it over the body parts that need the massage and use minimal effort to get the job done as the gun does all the work for you.
If you want a light stretch or deep massage, any of these 10 best percussion massagers are sure to deliver a customized massage experience.
Diana Paul is a certified nutritionist who writes for leading health blogs. She is a master herbalist, yoga teacher, forager, and wild-crafting writer She is focused on helping people transform life blocks to opportunities. Based in NYC, she often holds health seminars and lectures.