The 9 Best Massage Guns of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.
We reached for the Renpho Power Massage Gun when we needed immediate relief
Massage therapy offers physical and mental health benefits, but not everyone has the time or budget for regular massages. That's likely why massage guns — already an important part of many physical therapy regimens — have increased in popularity for at-home use.
There are many types of massage guns, including percussion, vibration, and deep tissue. “Look for a massage gun with adjustable speed and power settings so you can customize it to your preference," says Christynne Helfrich, PT, DPT, OCS, Physical Therapist at Hinge Health, adding that the power and speed will determine the intensity of the massage.
To find the best massage gun that released tension and promoted muscle recovery, our PEOPLE Tested team tried out 14 of the top massage guns on the market. We kneaded and massaged our muscles both before and after exercise to release tension, noting which ones were easiest to use, which had the best variety of speed settings and attachments, and most importantly, which ones did the best job at soothing our tired, tense muscles after a tough workout. Feeling more limber and invigorated, we then chose nine devices for our list of best massage guns.
Keep reading to discover the best massage guns for faster muscle recovery and a host of other physical and mental benefits.
Note: Stall force refers to the amount of pressure a massage gun’s head can sustain before the motor stalls. The more powerful the massage gun, the higher the stall force.
Best Overall: RENPHO Power Massage Gun
Great for athletes because you can increase the intensity to a deep tissue massage level
Fairly quiet, so you won't disturb others while using it
Attachments were easy and intuitive to use
Even after using it several times, the battery did not need recharging
Location of the power button makes it easy to turn it off accidentally
Too heavy for travel
We were impressed with the intensity of this massage gun even on the low settings, so if you’re a first-timer, go gently the first few times out. We used this massage gun to relieve some upper back soreness and found it did the trick. When used after a spin class, it made for quicker muscle recovery in the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, too. We were impressed by the stall force on this massage gun — those who like a deep tissue massage will be able to apply firm pressure without the motor stopping.
This massage gun does feel a bit heavy, but the L-shaped design makes it easy to hold. However, we found the power button to be in a spot that makes it easy to shut off accidentally — which means you have to cycle through the settings to find the right one again.
Most of the attachments were easy to attach and intuitive to use. Even after using it consistently before and after workouts, we found that the battery lasted and only needed to be recharged once. It all comes in a handy carrying case, but the weight of the gun and all its attachments makes it too heavy for travel, but it’s a great device to keep at home for muscle recovery and tension relief.
Price at time of publish: $99.99
Head Attachments: 6 | Speeds: 6 | Amplitude: 12 mm | Battery Life: 4 hours | Noise: <=45dB | Weight: 1.9 lbs.
Best Overall, Less Expensive: RENPHO Extend Massage Gun
Extended handle makes it easy to use without producing any hand cramps
An excellent product for both gym rats and casual athletes because you can adjust the intensity
Lightweight; great for travel
There’s no carrying case, making it less portable
Smaller attachments are better for deep tissue versus everyday massaging
We loved how effective this massage gun was at relieving muscle tension and sore muscles. We tried it out after an arm workout and could literally feel our muscles release and neck tension dissolve after a session. The long arm made it easy to hold (no hand cramping here!) and we only felt relief, not additional soreness, after using it.
There’s a nice variety of attachments that do a great job of further targeting muscle groups. We liked how the smaller attachments were able to reach the smaller muscle groups, though we found the stall force did kick in. The smaller attachments were better used for deep tissue massage, but they can be a bit intense and even painful — we enlisted the help of the professional physical therapist who was on hand during in-lab testing to use it more comfortably. However, the other attachments were easy to use on our own.
The gun is very lightweight and perfect for travel or taking to the gym. We would have loved it if there were a carry case, but it’s fine for tossing in a gym bag or tote.
Price at time of publish: $39.99 (orig. $49.99)
Head Attachments: 4 | Speeds: 4 | Amplitude: 8 mm | Battery Life: 4-5 hours | Noise: <=45dB | Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Best Investment: Therabody Theragun Prime 4th Generation
This triangular tool was extremely comfortable to hold and didn't cramp or fatigue our arms
It was very easy to change out and snap on the different attachments
The price is lower than we assumed for a massage gun of this caliber
We wish it had a hard carrying case instead of a soft bag for better protection
We all know the name Theragun, but we what we didn’t know was just how great this massaging tool would feel on our tired muscles and in our hand. It was an easy experience to power on and start using the massage gun thanks to its ergonomic, triangular arm. It's truly easy to hold from any angle (read: no arm soreness, even when you’re holding it up for a while).
The Theragun came with four different attachments to relieve tight or achy muscles and worked at a whisper-quiet rate, which we can thank its uber-quick motor for (the site describes it as being “quieter than an electric toothbrush,” and we’d agree). It also utilizes LED lights that let you know what level and speed your massage gun is working at, so you can learn the combination that works well for you. We personally appreciated the deep-tissue massage that we achieved with this Theargun, which we thought was far better than the older Theragun Elite.
We fully expected this to be a more expensive machine than it was, so we appreciated the price point (and we'd even pay more for the features and overall comfort — but we’ll happily take this number). It makes us a little worried to keep it in its soft bag, so we wish it came with a hard carrying case, but we think it's sturdy enough to be taken on the go without damaging the device.
Price at time of publish: $299
Head Attachments: 4 | Speeds: 5 | Amplitude: 16 mm | Battery Life: 2 hours | Noise: 61 db | Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Best Adjustable: RENPHO R4 Pro Massage Gun
You can adjust the angle of the head to access hard-to-reach spots, like your back
All speed settings are quite effective
Comes with a zippered carrying case
There’s a bit of a learning curve when finding the best angle
The stall force is a bit weak when using the larger attachments
We loved the variety of attachments and speeds; we were impressed that even the lowest one gave a comfortable massage. We found it was especially good for post-workout recovery. We tried this out on some painfully tight biceps and found that in just a few minutes, we were able to regain full range of motion once more. We grew to love this massage gun even more as we used it consistently during the testing period.
This massage gun is shaped a little differently than others on our list, but there’s a purpose — you can adjust the angle in five different positions to reach more muscle groups easily. It comes with a nice variety of attachments, but what we liked even more about this massage gun was that you can — with a little practice — adjust the angle to get at hard-to-reach muscle groups. We did notice that the stall force was weaker on the bigger attachments than on the smaller ones.
This machine is big and has lots of attachments, but the zippered carrying case makes it easy to tote. The angle adjustment was everything, so we think this is quite the value for the price.
Price at time of publish: $69.99 (orig $169.99)
Head Attachments: 6 | Speeds: 4 | Amplitude: 10 mm | Battery Life: 4 hours | Noise: <=45dB | Weight: 2.2 lbs.
Best for Beginners: Therabody Theragun Mini 2nd Generation
This model was very comprehensive and easy for beginners to figure out
Due to its miniature frame, this Theragun is super easy to take on the move
Everyone from casual exercisers to marathon runners can benefit from this small but mighty machine
Due to the small size, you’ll need another person to help you reach areas beyond your legs
Let’s face it, we don’t need another clunky item to throw in our gym bags, which is why we love the second generation of the Theragun Mini so much. This palm-sized massage gun packs a powerful, yet never painful punch with three attachable heads and 12mm of amplitude to target deep-rooted tightness in your sore muscles. (We personally found it very relieving in our calves and other parts of our legs, but you may need a friend to help you with your upper body and back).
We liked how very easy it was to hold and maneuver this device, which we can attribute to its tiny stature and just over one pound weight. Since it’s handheld and only has three speeds, it was very easy for beginners to understand how to turn on, use, and shut off this machine — but that doesn’t mean that it’s not for novices, too. Its adjustable heads and powerful speeds means you can get a deep-tissue massage after your next run or lifting session when you throw this portable device in your bag, making it easier than ever to take care of your body after putting in all of that work.
We think its price is well worth it for the superb quality and ultimate portability that the Theragun Mini provides. If you’re new to massage guns and want a gateway machine (that you may end up loving forever), then this is the one for you.
Price at time of publish: $179 (orig. $199)
Head Attachments: 3 | Speeds: 3 | Amplitude: 12 mm | Battery Life: 2 hours | Noise: 60.5 db | Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Best for Travel: Hyperice Hypervolt Go 2
It’s compact but powerful; we felt relief within minutes of using
It’s TSA-approved for carry-on
Impressively long battery life
The two included attachments are very effective
It doesn’t come with a case, but it's easy enough to throw in your bag
It’s one of the pricier ones on our list
This small yet powerful massage gun is TSA-approved and ready for takeoff in your carry-on — or you can just throw it in your gym bag for your warm-up or cool-down routine. This massage gun has three speeds, but we were content to use just the first two on our sore muscles. Even after just a few minutes, we found the tension released from our tight calves and shoulders. We were amazed at how much more flexible we felt.
It’s super easy to change attachment heads. Oddly enough, it took us more time to figure out the power button and how to change up the speeds, but once we got past that learning curve, we felt comfortable using it. No worries about getting a hand cramp with this one — it’s compact and well-designed for a comfortable grip. The handle is a bit thick, though, so we did switch hands a few times while using it.
It is a bit pricey for just having two attachments, but the ones that it does include are very effective. In fact, after using it extensively during the testing period, we found that the two attachments were enough for just about every muscle group. Plus, we were very impressed by the extensive battery life — it’s advertised as three hours, but we found that we only had to charge it twice during the month-long testing period.
Price at time of publish: $109.99 (orig. $199)
Head Attachments: 2 | Speeds: 3 | Battery Life: 3 hours | Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Best Foam Roller: Hyperice Vyper Go
It takes your foam-rolling routine to the next level
TSA-approved for carry-on
Even the lowest setting is effective
Doesn’t have different attachments like others on our list
Might not be good for those looking for a traditional massage gun
Whether you’re new to foam rolling or want to take your practice to the next level, this is the tool to have. We tried out this massage gun post-workout and found that we weren’t as sore the next day as usual.
While the foam rolling part is effective enough on its own, the real magic comes with the massage action. When compared to the times we didn’t use it after a workout, we found that our muscles were much more relaxed. If you’re worried that foam rolling is painful, you can truly relax with this one — we were never in pain or sore from using it. We could feel our fascia loosening up, especially along our quads and IT band. The lowest setting is strong but not too intense — go ahead and lean into it like a traditional foam roller without fear of hurting yourself.
As with regular foam rolling, there is a bit of a learning curve with this massage gun, but with a bit of practice, you’ll find it easy to use. If you’re looking for a traditional massage gun with multiple heads, you might be disappointed with this foam roller, but for what it’s designed to do, it’s quite effective. It’s lightweight and easy to stow in a bag, so you can take it to the gym or on a trip — it’s TSA-approved for your carry-on.
Price at time of publish: $119 (orig. $149)
Speeds: 3 | Battery Life: 2 hours | Weight: 2 lbs.
Related:The 12 Best Foam Rollers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Best with Heat: RENPHO Lite Massage Gun
Compact and lightweight, making it easy to use on-the-go
Good for first-timers since it’s more gentle than other massage guns we tested
Heats up quickly
It might be too light for recovery from advanced training.
The power button is in an awkward spot
True to its name, this massage gun is super lightweight — no need to extend your arm workout just to hold it. We found the horn-shaped massager swiveled too much while in use, but the ball and bullet heads were especially good. We actually traveled with it on a plane and found it fits easily in a small bag (it comes with its own pouch). We liked the wider head for a broader massage, and it worked at providing relief for our sore shoulders. It does heat up rather quickly, but we would have loved it if the surface area were a bit larger.
If you’re more athletic or a frequent goer, you’ll likely find you’ll have to bump it up to the highest pressure for it to really work on your muscles. But if you’re new to massage guns, this offers a gentle yet effective way to get into your new favorite fitness habit. It’s perfect for those who do light workouts or need relief for the occasional sore muscle.
Price at time of publish: $69.99
Head Attachments: 4 | Speeds: 3 | Amplitude: 6 mm | Battery Life: 4–7 hours | Noise: <=40dB | Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Best Adjustability: RENPHO C3 Massage Gun
There are 20 different speeds, so it’s customizable for everyone
Comes with a carrying case
Attachments made it easy to target different muscle groups
It’s heavier than others on our list.
The design makes it harder to hold.
We tried out this massage gun as part of a warm-up before a very hilly short run and found we had less fatigue and muscle soreness after. With the various attachments and loads of power levels, this is truly adjustable for every level of athlete. It is heavy and bulky so you might have to practice with it a bit, but we didn’t have any hand cramping while holding it.
We found that with so many settings, this is ideal for athletes or those seriously into weightlifting. Keep it on the lighter settings, though, and it’s perfect for anyone looking to relieve some muscle tension. The lower settings were strong enough for even a deep tissue massage — we found that the stall force was actually painful on the higher settings (75 and 100). The attachments were intuitive and not only were they easy to remove/attach, but we liked how easy they were to target various muscle groups.
We liked that this massage gun came with a carrying case, though it is heavy enough to make you leave it at home when you travel. Still, when you compare the effectiveness of this device with the price of actual massages, it’s a no-brainer investment — especially when it’s on sale.
Price at time of publish: $69.29 (orig. $89.99)
Head Attachments: 6 | Speeds: 20 | Amplitude: 10mm | Battery Life: 4 hours | Noise: <=63.5dB | Weight: 2.1 lbs.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Massage Gun
Number of Attachments and Speeds
If you thought your vacuum had a lot of attachments, wait until you see some of the massage guns on our list. The Renpho Power Massage Gun, for example, has six different ones. But attachment variety is often for the course with massage guns, says Helfrich, with ball heads, flat heads, and fork heads being some of the more common add-ons. “These attachments can be used to target different areas of the body and provide different types of relief,” she explains.
Helfrich also notes that the various speeds can further customize your massage experience. We liked the Renpho C3 Massage Gun, which offers the most options for a customized experience, thanks to six different attachments and a whopping 20 speeds.
Like all rechargeable devices, you’ll want to make sure your massage gun is ready when you are. You’ll also want to make sure that it has enough juice so that it won’t conk out as you’re trying to loosen up your sore, tight muscles. Good news: All the devices on our best massage guns list were found to have ample battery life, so you won’t have to recharge so often.
Given that the price of a massage can cost upwards of $100, any of these massage guns will quickly pay for themselves when compared to professional massages. Our most expensive pick, the Theragun Prime, is an incredible value if you plan to use a massage gun regularly. If you’re looking for something that’s even more budget-friendly, you can’t go wrong with the Renpho Extend Massage Gun.
You don’t want a massage gun so heavy or unwieldy that it makes you feel like a continuation of your upper body workout. “A lightweight, smaller massage gun might be easier to handle and travel with,” says Helfrich. For this reason, we love the Hypervolt Go 2. Not only is it only 1.5 pounds, but it’s also cleared for takeoff in your carry-on by the TSA.
How We Tested
Our PEOPLE Tested team were taught how to properly use the massage guns to avoid injury by Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MS, a board-certified Orthopedic physical therapist and certified early intervention specialist with over 20 years of experience. They were further advised and shown best massage gun practices by on-site physical therapist Monica Saliu, PT, DPT, Co-founder & COO of Tribeca Physical Therapy. After learning how to properly use each massage gun, our testers then took them home and continued to use them pre- and post-workout for more effective muscle recovery. They evaluated each massage gun based on factors like design, ease of use, variety of speeds and attachments, and how their targeted muscle areas felt after use.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you use a massage gun?
“Massage guns can be used in a variety of situations to help alleviate soreness, muscle tension, and pain,” says Helfrich. This includes both before and after a workout. Aside from dynamic stretching and exercises during your warmup, she recommends using a massage gun on your workout target areas for about 30 to 60 seconds to increase blood flow and mobility. Post-workout, you should do your cool-down stretches followed by using the massage gun on those same areas to mitigate sore, stiff muscles while increasing circulation and flexibility.
When should you avoid using a massage gun?
While there are many benefits to using a massage gun, Helfrich says there are a number of instances when you should avoid it:
Do not use it on any body parts that have open wounds or are otherwise bruised or inflamed.
Do not use it on areas that were the site of recent surgery without doctor approval.
Do not use it on the spine or any other bony areas, like your knees, ankles, or elbow.
There is conflicting public information on whether it’s okay to use a massage gun during pregnancy. Helfrich doesn’t advise it. “There is limited research on the effects of percussion therapy on [a] developing baby,” she explains.
Helfrich also says that if you experience any pain or discomfort while using a massage gun, stop using it immediately and consult your healthcare practitioner.
How long should you use a massage gun in one setting?
“The length of time you use your massage gun will vary depending on the intensity, size of the targeted area, and your tolerance level,” says Helfrich. She notes that in general, you shouldn’t use the massage gun for more than two or three minutes per area. “Using it for too long or applying too much pressure can cause bruising and soreness, so it is important to listen to your body and adjust intensity and duration accordingly,” she explains.
Why Trust PEOPLE?
Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelancer with over 18 years of experience as a writer, editor, and social media consultant for regional and national brands, including Health.com, Forbes Advisor, and Insider. For this article, she interviewed Christynne Helfrich, PT, DPT, OCS, Physical Therapist at Hinge Health, on what to look for in a massage gun as well as any potential risks. She also consulted our in-depth testing results where our team used these massage guns pre- and post- workout for several weeks to determine each massage gun's effectiveness.
To ensure we were using the massage guns correctly, Theresa Marko, PT, DPT, MS, a board-certified Orthopedic physical therapist and certified early intervention specialist and physical therapist Monica Saliu, PT, DPT, Co-founder & COO of Tribeca Physical Therapy guided each tester through their initial use and showed them how to properly use each massage gun on their muscle groups. After testing was complete, we rated each one on its effectiveness, comfort, ease of use, stall force, and portability. The highest-scoring massage guns made our list.
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.
Up Next:The 7 Best Foot Massagers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.