They’re the must-have wellness accessory for 2023 but… Will a £40 massage GUN really hit the spot?
- Google searches for massage guns were up by a huge 909 per cent
- However, Anna Maxted has found that not everyone is a fan of the new product
- UK-based writer has put some of the bets 2023 offerings to the test
The latest buzz in the fitness world? Percussive massage guns which bang out short, strong pulses of pressure into the muscle tissue.
Google searches for massage guns were up by 909 per cent according to a report from online fitness store Core Balance and they’re all the rage for 2023.
These powerful purring devices, usually the size of a hairdryer and slightly reminiscent of a power tool, may be the next best thing to having a masseur on call.
Not everyone is a fan (my mother compared the sensation to a ‘pneumatic drill’), but if your shoulders feel stiff after hours of hunching in front of a screen, or if you’re super-tight after a workout and keen to get moving again, they can feel like a dream. So which hit the spot and which can buzz off? We put them to the test…
Google searches for massage guns were up by a huge 909 per cent. Percussive massage guns which bang out short, strong pulses of pressure into the muscle tissue
POWER TOOL FOR PROS
MyoPro, (£149, myomaster.com)
Relief has arrived, it boasts on the box — not a word of a lie. This was invented by professional rugby player Joe Gray, who developed achilles tendonitis in 2018.
He dismantled a drill, welded on a stool leg and made a makeshift massage gun to treat himself. This contraption was met with banter by team mates… until they realised it worked miracles on their sore muscles. Lo, the MyoMaster prototype was born. Now it’s sleeker, but retains a power tool air. ‘That’s amazing,’ spluttered my husband as I applied it to his back. I defy anyone not to squeak and sigh as it digs in to knotted muscles.
Core Balance Muscle Massage Gun, £39.99, corebalancefitness.co.uk). A fraction of the price of others on the market, but is there a difference in quality?
BEST ON A BUDGET
Core Balance Muscle Massage Gun, £39.99, corebalancefitness.co.uk)
A fraction of the price of others on the market, but is there a difference in quality? I’d say, yes. This medium-sized five-speed device comes with six attachments — including an ‘air cushion’ for sensitive tissue or joints, which my teenager found ‘relaxing’. Its amplitude is 11mm and, at full intensity, it strikes the target area up to 2,400 times per minute (though even the lowest setting feels robust). Its massage feels less precise than some other devices — applied to my quads, even at speed 1, it makes my thigh vibrate, whereas the other models don’t. That said, it does its job and it’s a great price.
HoMedics Pro Physio Massager, (£299.99, homedics.co.uk)
Oh, you clever people, I murmur, as the heated massage attachment pummels my sore hamstrings after a run. This has six attachments including a ‘cellulite’ head, but the heated one is the star. In two minutes it hits 47c and it’s a game-changer. (The price feels reasonable, is how good it is.) My family fought over this, particularly my husband, after a tennisinduced groin-strain. And while the cold spongey attachment, cooled in the freezer, doesn’t feel as icy as I’d like, it’s still pleasant.
SMALL AND NEAT BUT MIGHTY
Power Plate Mini+, (£149.95, powerplate.co.uk)
This model is sturdy, but neat and light enough for travel. Ideal for a discreet massage at your desk (‘small, quiet and properly nice,’ says my teenager.)
It has two attachments — ‘ball’ and ‘thumb’ — and four intensity levels — level 4 offers 3,000 percussions per minute. Many great brands offer a portable gun, but because they’re so dinky, you can get carried away. I buzz my shoulder at level 3 and my head vibrates. Then I check the instructions — level 1-2 is advised for shoulders. Plus, just 30-60 seconds of application is effective.
I briefly buzz around my tendonitis-prone elbow and almost instantly feel radiating heat from increased blood flow. Top notch.
FIRING ON ALL FIVE
Recovapro SE Bluetooth-enabled Massage gun with Charging Dock, (£229.99, amazon.co.uk)
A professional grade percussive massager with five attachments, including a two-pronged ‘fork’ for the spine, a ‘bullet’ head for deep tissue and a round head for large muscle groups, this is a fine beast.
It weighs 2.5lb and it felt like I was wielding Thor’s hammer.
Theragun Prime, (£275, therabody.com/uk). This has four attachments including the ‘dampener’ (which has a wide base) and ‘cone’
The Recovapro website includes 45-second tutorials on treating ailments and areas. After a long day at my desk I popped on the ‘power’ head, a substitute for the masseur’s thumb apparently (which sounds creepy, but feels great).
Even the second speed felt powerful and soon I was saying ‘oof!’ The ‘fork’ attachment looks terrifying but applied either side of the vertebrae (with my husband as massage therapist) makes me shiver with joy. Within minutes, the area felt warm and afterwards I was super-chilled. Expensive, but a real treat.
MASSAGE BY NUMBERS
Theragun Prime, (£275, therabody.com/uk)
This has four attachments including the ‘dampener’ (which has a wide base) and ‘cone’. The cone targets small muscle groups, whereas the dampener is for all over. I pair my device with the Therabody app, which helps you use your gun effectively. You choose a programme — I tried First-Time User (three minutes) — stick on the suggested attachment, press ‘start routine’ and the gun buzzes into life. Then follow the app instructions.
There’s guidance on grip and force with real-time feedback on what’s optimal. There are warm-up and recovery routines for every activity, and programmes for ailments and areas. Application of these devices can feel slightly random, so such precise tuition is invaluable.
- If you have an injury, medical condition, or you’re pregnant, please seek medical advice before purchase.
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