Whether you’re brought here by sore traps after the gym or are in need of some pain relief from your less-than-ideal work-from-home setup, it’s no secret that massage guns, also known as percussion therapy devices, have quickly become the next big thing in DIY ache-and-pain recovery. Fitness influencers have been touting their effectiveness for years — and they've certainly changed how we get pain relief on the go and at home. Not to mention, they help us avoid potentially pricey doctor visits.
According to Dr. Richard T. Hui, a NYC-based doctor of chiropractic, “people who sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, or those who exercise or play sports” can benefit the most from massage guns. But how exactly do they work to relieve pain?
“Massage guns use percussion, which is a combination of depth, speed, and force along with different attachments to target specific muscle groups and joints,” says Anthony Lewis, personal trainer team leader at Crunch Fitness in New York City's Midtown East. He also notes that while he typically uses it on his clients during pre-workout, they're an effective tool during post-workout as well.
Is there a downside to this approach? Lewis doesn't seem to think so, assuring us that “there really isn’t a bad time to use them since most people can benefit from stress, strain, and tension relief.” But before you use a massage gun, he advises consulting a medical professional beforehand, as they can cause injury if used incorrectly.
The Best Massage Guns
- The OG: Theragun Elite
- Best Value: LifePro Sonic Percussion Massage Gun
- For Pro-Level Relief: TimTam PowerMassager Pro
- The Best-Seller: TOLOCO Massage Gun
- Best for Beginners: Mebak 3 Massage Gun
- Great for on the Go: Renpho Powerful Portable Massage Gun
- Best Budget: Wahl Deep Tissue Percussion Massager
What to Consider
Safety and specs should be your top priorities when purchasing a percussive device. “When buying a massage gun, one should consider variable speeds, which provide more percussions per minute (PPM),” says Dr. Hui. That means the best massage guns are those of higher quality with longer battery life for continuous usage — so be careful of bootleg versions, which though available at a lower price point, may not offer the optimal hardware specs you need for safe and consistent relief.
Dr. Hui says that the best massage gun should be able to withstand daily sessions, lasting around 5 to 10 minutes each. Portability for ease of use should also be high on your list, Dr. Hui points out, specifying, “Additional heads and attachments also give you more options to use on different muscle parts of the body.” It's also important to note that if you have nerve damage, are recovering from surgery, or have acute trauma, you should steer clear of massage guns.
Our guide to the best massage guns includes both iconic and recently released percussion therapy devices, spanning various budgets and intensity levels — all of which are guaranteed to give you stellar pain relief.
- Battery life: 2 hours
- Intensity levels: 5 built-in speeds; also customizable
- Attachment heads: 5
Taking notes from previous louder versions, the original massage gun to launch a hundred copycats just keeps getting better with its latest iteration, the fourth-generation Theragun Elite. It reaches 60% deeper into muscles than your average massage gun — meaning less chance of a relief plateau — and with a look and feel that, as its name suggests, is unmistakably premium and as ergonomic as they come.
Pros and longtime fans of the Theragun portfolio, as well as those new to the massage gun game, will appreciate the twice-longer battery life and the nifty OLED Screen that displays your current speed and force. This industry fave also comes with five washable heads (yay, hygiene!) and only clocks in at a very portable, very gym-bag-friendly 2.2 pounds. Flex away.
- Fully customizable speeds
- Quiet yet powerful
- Smart App integration via Bluetooth
- Long charging time
- Battery life: 3-6 hours
- Intensity levels: 5
- Attachment heads: 8
If you’re looking for a great all-around that delivers a major bang for your buck, the 4.75-star LifePro Sonic Massage Gun just might be the massage gun to add to your cart.
At less than $120, you get a well-rounded device that offers a range of low (20 Hz) to powerful (45 Hz) percussive pressure with five interchangeable heads. The easy-to-navigate LED screen offers a high-end approach, while also making it more user-friendly.
Noise-wise, its motor sound ranges from 55 to 75 decibels, or anywhere from normal conversation or background noise to average radio play — not the worst, but also not not noticeable. More than 15,000 ratings on Amazon have reported its ease of use and ergonomic grip as the Sonic’s main draws, as well as its overall effectiveness in everything from fascial relief to more intense muscle soreness.
- Easy to use for beginners
- Long battery life
- Lifetime warranty
- Battery port issues
- Customer service could be better
- Battery life: 1 hour
- Intensity levels: 5 pre-programmed + 3 deep-tissue
- Attachment heads: 3
At a little over $400, the TimTam PowerMassager Pro isn’t a casual purchase by any means, but professional athletes and elite fitness enthusiasts alike will appreciate its thoughtful attention to pro-level muscle recovery. Three specific deep-tissue settings deliver up to 2,800 strokes per minute, and one of its tip attachments can automatically heat up to 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit for more permeative targeted relief.
Unsure of how long or how strong you should go? The handy LED display does the work for you, showing your skin temperature to better ascertain muscle performance — as it very well should, sitting at the higher end of the spectrum. All in all, a non-fluffy choice that's great for those looking for serious, real-deal recovery.
- Auto-heating tip
- User-friendly intensity levels
- Captures skin temperature for optimal muscle performance
- Short battery life
- Battery life: approx. 2-3 hours
- Intensity levels: 20
- Attachment heads: 10
One of the most-rated picks on Amazon, TOLOCO’s percussive gun is decidedly also the most overachieving. It comes with 10 attachment heads and has a total of 20 settings, all bundled neatly at $120, making it the product to beat in the price-performance matrix.
Expect all the classic specs and benefits with this cordless device, including a lighter weight (2.1 pounds), with noise levels at an average of 40 to 50 decibels, which is anywhere between average home noise to normal conversation and background music.
Its intensity levels are the most democratic among the non-elite brands, with users saying they range from *checks notes* “nice and easy” to “jackhammer.”
Do with that what you will — and know that nearly 12,000 global ratings have pretty much summed this jack-of-all-trades pick as the best-selling of the bunch.
- Solid battery life
- Lots of massage heads
- User-friendly touchscreen
- Charging issues with defective units
- Battery life: 2-3 hours
- Intensity levels: 5
- Attachment heads: 7
Boasting a whopping 11,000 ratings and a 4.8-star average review on Amazon, the Mebak 3 is a hardworking ticks-all-boxes option at a damn fair price point. Its seven interchangeable heads ensure targeted relief for all achy parts of the body. Plus, its deep-reaching vibrations reach 12 millimeters into the muscle, satisfying those who want anywhere from a satisfying myofascial release to a powerful unknotting.
At 35 to 50 decibels, its noise is akin to the sound of normal background conversation, which shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Its 2.1-pound weight also ensures it’s light enough to not provide any wrist strain when getting to those trickier body contours. And like most of the percussion therapy devices on our list, it has a vibrant LED display for quick, foolproof reference.
- Quiet and lightweight
- Good assortment of heads
- Quality carrying case
- A bit too powerful for some
- Battery life: 2.5 hours
- Intensity levels: 5
- Attachment heads: 5
For compact design at an accessible price, few can compete with the convenience, portability, and lightweight construction of this percussion therapy device. Those with small hands will also appreciate how much easier it is to get to more areas of the body with this slightly smaller massage gun. It weighs in at a grand total of 1.5 pounds without sacrificing an ounce of power.
This wunderkind scores pretty high on the charts, with upwards of 7,300 ratings giving it 4.8 out of 5 stars. Easy and affordable, many users also appreciate its gentler settings for underarm lymphatic drainage, sciatica pain, and breaking up scar tissue post-surgery. Its one caveat is its battery drainage — but its USB and power bank charging capabilities help with any power gaps on the go.
- Smaller and lighter
- Easy charging with USB phone adapter or power bank
- Shorter battery life at higher settings
- Battery life: n/a — not cordless
- Intensity levels: Variable (from “Gentle” to “Intense”)
- Attachment heads: 4
With its inherent limitations, users still laud this budget pick from Wahl as successfully relieving persistent issues such as plantar fasciitis and tendonitis and breaking up scar tissue and fluids. It also has the longest handle of those on our list, which obviously is a plus, especially for those with mobility issues and who need more help reaching problem areas in their neck, back, and shoulders.
At just around $40, be ready to consider this more of a reflexology tool: It’s best at releasing pressure points and providing inflammation relief.
- Long handle
- Powerful “beating” percussions
- Short power cord