If you’ve been inside a gym or physical therapist’s office over the past couple years—or scrolled through your Instagram feed—you’ve likely come face-to-face with a percussive massage gun. These popular tools look like power drills and are designed to aid recovery, decrease soreness and increase range of motion by pleasantly beating your muscles into submission.
When the Theragun and the TimTam Power Massager launched in 2016, they were in a class of their own above other personal massagers on the market. Rather than kneading your muscles with simple vibrations, they featured powerful percussive massage therapy, a form of deep soft tissue manipulation. Basically, they punched you. Rapidly.
After finding favor among gym-goers, CrossFitters, and NBA athletes like Kyrie Irving, the category began to expand, with several more products hitting the market. Now, options include the Hypervolt and KraftGun, plus more upstarts that seem to pop up each week. It’s enough to make your head spin—which would likely cause some neck pain that a massage gun could address.
With three years on the market, the companies behind the devices are now releasing next-gen versions, like the Theragun G3 Pro, and the use of massage guns for recovery looks less like a trend and more like a practice with real staying power. Here's what you need to know about the tools so you can to incorporate them into your own routine.
Why Use a Massage Gun?
“Massage guns can be used as an alternative to the foam roller as a self-myofascial release tool,” says Vinh Pham, a physical therapist and the founder of Myodetox, a manual therapy and movement clinic with locations in Canada and the U.S. He notes that benefits include everything from decreased stress, pain and tissue tension to enhanced recovery, blood circulation and range of motion.