10 Best Massage Guns for Workout Recovery in 2023


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Sep 16, 2023

10 Best Massage Guns for Workout Recovery in 2023

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us? Massage guns are at the forefront of at-home athletic recovery. Here's what you

Our product picks are editor-tested, expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site. Why Trust Us?

Massage guns are at the forefront of at-home athletic recovery. Here's what you need to know about the buzziest fitness tools you can get.

REST AND RECOVERY are critical parts of training for athletes and fitness buffs alike—and massage guns are at the forefront of at-home athletic recovery. Not only do massage guns aim to help relieve your sore muscles, but they can actually help improve circulation and your range of motion after tough workouts. They're more compact than a foam roller, and pack way more punch when it comes to targeting your muscles. (If it's your neck that's giving you issues in particular, here are our best neck massagers.)

But let's be real: The massage gun market has become totally saturated. And with so many options out there, it might be hard to decipher which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. (Although if you really want to save some dough, you can attempt to turn a jigsaw into your very own massage gun. This guy did.)

With specific recovery routines and wish lists in mind, the below massage guns represent some of the best options on the market in 2023—including a deep dive into different models from Theragun and Hyperice, the two most popular massage gun brands out there.

Discover why we love each percussion massage gun model below, then keep scrolling to read advice from our experts on what to look for and the best practices for use.

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This pocket-sized model is perfect for transport and portability. If you like to use your massage gun while you're still at the gym or otherwise on the go, this is the one for you. It weighs a total of 1.43 pounds and has 150 minutes of battery life with three different speed settings and one attachment.

"This is hands-down my favorite massage gun. It’s small enough that I can travel with it anywhere, and despite its odd shape, I find it easy to hold and use. It’s my go-to for loosening chest and IT bands," says Samuel.

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Theragun's latest model is a humdinger. The 4th generation Theragun PRO includes a 300-minute battery life, a rotating arm, and an ergonomic grip. It also features four different arm positions and six attachments, plus five different percussion settings: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2400 percussions per minute, with up to 60 pounds of force.

This gun is a favorite of our very own Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., MH Fitness Director. "Partly because I have such fine control of the settings. It’s well-weighted too, which is why it’s one of the first devices that lets me comfortably treat my upper back."

Unlike other Thergaun models, the Pro also has 'smart' capabilities with the Therabody app to track progress and data with Bluetooth connectivity. And it has an OLED screen complete with a force meter for good measure. Phew!

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Hyperice’s updated mini massage gun fits easily in any purse or backpack, and at just 1.5 pounds, it never weighs you down. But it still gets three hours on a single charge, delivers three different intensities, and has multiple attachments to attack different muscle groups.

Senior Fitness Editor Brett Williams' favorite part? "I've stowed this everywhere from my gym bag to carry-on luggage before—I've never had an issue making it fit. Even though it's much smaller than the standard models, it still packs a punch."

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The new Hypervolt 2 Pro is Hyperice's premiere massage gun. It has the strongest percussion technology of all their devices, complete with a brushless high-torque 90W motor.

You won’t find a more accessible massage gun than the Hypervolt 2, which is why Samuel got his parents one of these. "The dial is easy to adjust and gives my parents the feedback they need without overwhelming them with info."

It's shaped like a pill for a comfortable grip and weighs just 2.6 pounds, too. Featureing five different percussion speeds, you can effortlessly transition between using the 2 Pro's new digital speed dial. Like other models, it also connects via Bluetooth to the Hyperice app.

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While the Theragun Elite model is a slightly smaller option compared to the PRO, it still packs all the punch needed to provide quick relief to even the sorest of muscles.

"I love the weight of the theragun elite; at 2.2 pounds, it’s heavy enough to deliver a strong pulse but light enough to shove into a backpack," says Samuel. "This has underrated durability, too: Its taken plenty of bumps and jostles in my gym bag but keeps on rocking."

It has five different percussion settings and deploys up to 40 pounds of force. It comes with five attachments and has a 120-minute battery life. It's also integrated with the Therabody app via Bluetooth and OLED display.

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The standard entry in Hyperice's Hypervolt line isn't as high-powered as its follow-up (see more on that just below), but that doesn't mean that it can't get the job done. The lightweight device weighs only 2.5 pounds, so it won't sit like a rock in your gym bag. It has three different percussion speeds and five different head attachments to vary your experience. Plus, Hyperice's motors are extremely quiet allowing for a peaceful massage experience.

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This version from NordicTrack retails for $179 on the brand's site, which makes the $34 price tag on Amazon nearly unbelievable. But with a 4.5 star rating from buyers on the e-commerce site, you better believe it. With four interchangeable massage heads and five speed settings, this affordable massager competes with the likes of Hyperice and Therabody for a fraction of the cost.

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The Compex Fixx 1.0 Massager delivers up to 3,200 percussions per minute, meaning it's a suitable option if power is what you're after. The device features an adjustable-angle arm for reaching all areas of the body with ease.

It's easy to use, and comes with four different massage heads to target different muscle groups. The device also has three different speed settings and a rechargeable battery, which provides up to 90 minutes of use on a single charge.

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With 7 interchangeable head attachments and 5 speed settings, the Mebak 3 offers a similar experience to higher end models at a more reasonable price.

It's portable and quiet, with a working sound level of only 35-50dB. Weighing just over 2 pounds, it comes with a compact carrying case for easy transportation with all attachments. Plus, according to the brand, it can last up to 2-3 weeks on a fully charged battery with normal daily use.

The Power Plate Pulse exceeds most other comparable products on the market when it comes to battery life. Its six vibration intensity levels and 6-hours of use from a single charge make it a cut above the rest.

According to the brand, it's also quieter and 20% lighter than its predecessor model, making it a great upgrade for users. It now comes with six attachments and features an antimicrobial coating to prevent the spread of everyday bacteria (so don't be concerned about using it while sweaty).

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To learn more about what to look for in a massage gun, we spoke with Pham and Josh Orendorf, a physical therapist, certified personal trainer and the owner of Paceline Physical Therapy, in Franklin, Tennessee.

“The three most important things for me are reliability, noise, and battery life,” says Orendorf.

“I need something that I know is well-made and won’t malfunction during operation, especially because I’m using it on injured athletes. Noise is the next most important factor. I need to be able to talk to my athletes over the noise of the gun without yelling at them.”

Noise: Pham agrees that keeping treatment quiet is a major priority. “Personally, noise to me is number one,” says Pham. “I want to be able to use the massage guns in public, and having it sound like a power tool would make it unusable.”

Battery life: Next up is battery life, as Orendorf says he also can’t have guns dying in the middle of treatment. He says that he expects a massage gun to last several full days without requiring a charge. “You’ll also want to be able to throw the gun in your bag or take it on a weekend trip without worrying about finding an outlet,” he says.

Reliability: Orendorf notes that reliability is still key and that it’s worth investing in a legitimate brand with high-quality standards rather than a knockoff. “Be prepared to spend at least $250 to $350 for a quality product,” he says. “I would be very suspect of guns in the $100 range.”

Power and speed: Sufficient power and speed is essential to effectively penetrate the muscles and promote blood flow. Look for a massage gun with a high percussive force and adjustable speed settings so you can deliver adequate force to different muscles.

Attachments: Different attachments can provide different massage techniques and sensations that may be suitable for different muscles. Look for a massage gun that comes with a variety of attachments to target different muscle groups and areas of the body.

Portability: A portable and lightweight massage gun is ideal, especially if you plan to use it on the go or travel with it. Consider the weight, size, and the case included.

Additional accessories and features: Of course, even the best guns leave room for improvement. Some options come with convenient travel cases and charging stands—something Orendorf would like to see more products offer. He also mentions that dishwasher-safe attachment heads would make for easier cleaning. And, as the market continues to progress, he hopes for smaller (yet still powerful) designs and Bluetooth app integration.

Renato Sanchez, PT, DPT, a physical therapist from Bespoke Treatments San Diego recommends first asking yourself why you’re considering a massage gun in the first place.

"What are you looking to get out of one? Is it for recovery, pain relief, or helping you reach your fitness goals? If you answered yes to any of those, then you might be a good candidate to add one to your shopping cart," he explains.

"There’s plenty of research to show massage guns have the ability to increase mobility, decrease pain and soreness, and improve overall performance. It won’t be the fix-all tool to dramatically improve your health, but it will be a valuable supplement to your routine," adds Sanchez.

“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.

“You can use it pre-workout to warm up the muscles and post-workout to decrease tightness and soreness,” adds Pham.

Want to learn exactly how you should be using one of these buzzy tools? Check out our how-to-use massage guns guide for instructions for best practices before, during, and after workouts.

You don’t want to spend hours up hours using your massage gun. Instead, you’ll want to spend 90-120 seconds on any given muscle group, floating the gun across that area, according to Samuel. "Aim to follow the direction of the muscle fibers. That means running your gun across your chest, from the center toward you shoulder, instead of running it up and down your chest."

But be mindful to not run your massage gun across joints; you want to keep it focused on the soft tissue only.

"And don’t try to aggressively drive the gun deep into the muscle, expecting more 'relief.' Using a massage gun shouldn’t hurt," explains Samuel.

Massage guns have gained a lot of popularity in recent years as a tool for muscle recovery, but do they really work? The blunt answer is they can. But it all depends on how, when, and where you use them.

These massagers offer rapid, percussive strokes designed to penetrate into the muscle tissue, stimulate blood flow, and help to break up adhesions. The research on the effectiveness of massage guns for muscle recovery is promising, but still limited.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research found that using a massage gun on the quadriceps muscles after exercise resulted in a significant reduction in muscle soreness and an increase in muscle flexibility compared to a control group. Another study found that using a massage gun after exercise improved blood flow to the muscles and reduced muscle fatigue.

So, they can help with muscle soreness with correct use, but shouldn't be used as a replacement for other recovery methods such as rest, proper nutrition, active stretching and dynamic mobility work.

We asked Sanchez how folks can get to those hard-to-reach areas with their massage guns. Here's his take:

"Massage guns mainly target superficial muscles making it hard to isolate deeper musculature. Therefore, yes, the location of muscles can impact the effectiveness of this modality.

There are various types of massage guns out there, if you’re in the market for one make sure to do proper research. I think it’s safe to say the majority of people can reach the front side of their bodies using a massage gun, but you’ll need decent shoulder mobility if you’re looking to target the mid and low back. That’s when you’d want to get a massage gun that is more ergonomic or can be adjusted.

If mobility is a limiting factor you may consider trading the massage gun for a lacrosse ball for pin point contact. Sometimes you might just be better off asking a friend, what’s the saying…I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine?"

At Men's Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. For this story, we spent hours researching the top-rated massage guns online and testing 8 out of the 10 listed above. We also interviewed experts including physical therapists Vinh Pham, Josh Orendorf, Renato Sanchez.

Our writers and editors are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality. Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage, which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

For the past two years, Men's Health's Fitness editors and writers have been testing the top percussion massage guns for post-workout recovery. Experts, including our fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and fitness editor Brett Williams, NASM, reviewed the best massage guns from the two major brands we see most credible in the industry: Therabody and Hyperice. When evaluating each device, we looked at factors like durability, effectiveness, and portability. We also considered price point, as some massage gun models pack a better overall value than others.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He's logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men's Health in 2017, he served as a sports columnist and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.

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REST AND RECOVERYBest Compression Boots Best Ice BathsBest Home Gym EquipmentBest Fitness TrackersBest Tech Gadgets for MenBest Tech Gadgets for MenRead more: Best Running ShoesRead more: Best Running ShoesRead more: Best Home Gym Floor MatsRead more: Hyperice Normatec Go ReviewRead more: Best TreadmillsRead More: Hyperice X ReviewRead more: Best Adjustable DumbbellsRead more: Best Shoes for Standing All DayRead more: Best Weightlifting ShoesRead more: Best Indoor Rowing MachinesNoiseBattery lifeReliabilityPower and speedAttachmentsPortabilityAdditional accessories and features