If you’ve spent time in a gym, physical therapy office or been on social media recently, you know that massage guns are all the rage these days. With new brands popping up every week (or so it seems) the decision of which one to pick has become an increasingly daunting task.
Massage guns are relatively recent inventions that have gained a lot of popularity. These devices provide rapid strikes to the body (called percussions) that effectively increase blood flow, relax tense muscles and reduce injury risk. They provide similar benefits to deep tissue massage therapy, except the devices can be used anytime and anywhere, and the effects can be felt within minutes.
If you are in the market for one, you are probably wondering which massage gun to buy? Let’s sift through the marketing hype and take a closer look and some of the top things to look out for when purchasing a massage gun.
Product Quality and Reliability
The last thing you want is to invest in a machine that malfunctions in the middle of your workout, or dies after just a month of use. Of course there’s always the chance that you will get a faulty product – but that’s where the manufacturer warranty comes in. Invest in a device that is built from quality materials and offers a strong warranty. The device should look premium and feel sturdy in your hand.
A solid warranty is a good indicator of reliability, but one major thing that most people forget is that a warranty is only as good as the company that honors it. With the shift from brick-and-mortar stores towards e-commerce, it’s easy for less reputable companies to offer enticing three year, five year, or even lifetime warranties, only to disappear after making the sale. Or, they hide pricey fees in the fine print of their warranty policy, rendering the warranty more hassle than it’s worth and essentially useless.
For many years, massage guns were notorious for being loud and obnoxious. They sounded like power tools, so as far away as you can get from a relaxing massage experience. In loud gyms or open areas, you could get away with an obnoxious massage gun, but do yourself, your ears, and your fellow gym-goers a favor and limit the noise.
Look for a device that uses a brushless motor, since they are quiet enough to use in your home late at night without disturbing your sleeping child, spouse, or roomates.
The majority of the time, a battery life of 45 minutes to an hour is suiteable for a single user, as that session length would be perfect to complete a full body treatment in one continuous session before requiring a charge. However, there are certain times that a longer battery life, such as three or four hours, can come in handy.
If you compete in athletic events and tournaments, travel, or want to use the massage gun in a professional setting such as physical therapy offices or gyms, longer battery life is critical.
With a three hour battery life, a device could last over a week between charges if used 20 minutes per day. It’s a quality of life feature that ensures you don’t have to continually check that your device is fully charged before taking it anywhere.
Look for a device that has a swiveling head, as the different angles allow you to effectively target all muscle groups and still maintain your wrist in a neutral position throughout the massage. It’s a seemingly insignificant difference, but when you’re holding a 2.5lb device vibrating at 3200rpm for 20 minutes, the position of your wrist makes a world of difference.
Second, find a device that makes it easy to reach all areas of your body. The swivel head plays an important role in that, but so does the device handle/grip. Some devices have handles with multiple different gripping points, giving you more flexibility in holding the device when reaching. However, areas like the back can still be hard to target without the help of another person.
Power and Efficacy
Without getting too technical, three main parts make up percussions from a massage gun:
- Speed (measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM).
- Stroke Length (how far does the head attachment travel with each revolution).
- Stall Force (the amount of pressure applied to the body).
Speed is the number of times the massage head strikes the body per minute. This is usually expressed in RPM, or revolutions per minute. Therefore, a speed level of 3200rpm means the device is striking your body 53 times per second. This number is thought of as “strength” or “intensity.” Look for a device that can offer a wide range of RPMs and several adjustable speed settings since there will be times you need a light massage and others you simply need quick tension release.
A higher stroke length results in more of a “pounding” sensation that travels deeper into the body, and a lower stroke length results in more of a soothing vibration feeling. Standard stroke lengths go from 6mm up to 16mm. For most users, 10-12mm offers a balance between relaxation and relieving tight knots. For users who are extremely muscular or professional athletes, a stroke length of 16mm might be more effective but too much for average users. Those seeking only relaxation, a massage gun is likely not the best choice.
Lastly, stall force is the amount of pressure applied to the body before the motor stalls. If you are a professional athlete or are very muscular, the ability to press the massage gun into your body with more force can come in handy for targeting deep knots. However, a high stall force would likely be too intense for an older or less athletic users, or for those with tender, sore muscles. Look for a device that has a stall force that suits your specific use.
Keep these considerations in mind when deciding on which massage gun to purchase:
- Reliability and Product Quality
- Battery Life
- Power and Efficacy
Pick a high-quality device from a reputable brand that provides a solid warranty in case something goes wrong. Ensure the device isn’t too loud and has a battery life that suits your intended use. Ergonomics are essential – a swivel head and having the ability to treat all areas of your body with ease will truly elevate your user experience. Lastly, make sure what you’re buying works effectively and find a stroke length and stall force that is right for you.
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