It was the hot item on everyone’s Christmas list this year, massage guns!
These repurposed drills are extremely popular amongst CrossFitters as a personal recovery tool. They come from all different brands and have different features all aim at the same thing, myofascial release (the practice of massaging muscle to release knots and restore range of motion to joints).
With half of my gym getting one for Christmas and the other half asking which one they should get, I though it would be helpful to put out there some things I have found while researching and using these products.
What are they?
As previously stated, these are dedicated to myofascial release. For instance, if you have pain in your knee, you would use a gun like this on your quadricep to release tensions (for more specific info on how to release muscles see our article HERE).
In order to apply different types of press, these guns come with different speed settings and attachable heads. They go about using these heads by either going around in a circle or pulsing up and down, most of the market being the latter.
More settings and attachments doesn’t always mean better and less expensive doesn’t mean worse. Here we have a case of brand recognition and a lack of patented technology controlling the market.
What makes a good massage gun?
Price is usually a good determining factor for products. Get a $6000 guitar and it will be nicer than the $200 guitar. Here we have more of a case of Volkswagen vs Porsche, same company with similar cars where you pay more for a name.
In massage guns Porsche would be Theragun/Hyperice and Volkswagen would be everything else.
In my experience, the things that matter with these are build quality, noise, settings, motor power, and types of attachments.
Some of these guns can be as loud as the power tools they look like, be made of cheap plastic, and overheat after 5 minutes of use. Others are as noticeable as a whisper and can run for 2 days straight. The latter being what you want!
In working with different athlete’s massage guns I have realized that we all don’t like the one’s that sound like someone is working on a construction project and I personally don’t like the ones where the motor overheats after applying a bit of pressure when trying to get knots out.
Even more importantly it is best to find attachments that can lock into place, especially with the chisel attachment!
And on that note; the best massage guns come with a chisel attachment. This attachment, in my experience, is the most efficient at targeting and eliminating knots due to its’ density and width, making sure that you don’t lose knots and can hammer them into oblivion without the gun going everywhere.
Which One Do You Get?
I am in no way sponsored by any of company. All I can recommend is what I have used.
As far as the gun that I use it is the VYBE Pro:
The reason I like this massage gun is that it is quiet, has stainless steel attachments so you’re less likely to get it stuck on your skin, and has a durable motor that is less likely to shut down due to overheating than most.
I find that the handle is a little long but overall it feels really nice, but it can be quite expensive compared to other guns on the market. It makes way less noise than the Theragun for just as high quality item for way less cabbage.
The best budget friendly massage gun I have used is the: FLYBY Massage Gun:
Running at about $70 on Amazon, this massage gun is a little bit louder and does not have quite as strong a motor as the VYBE. But, the trade offs for price end about there. There are still all the attachments you need (note: they are all plastic. No steel tipped ones here.) and you can work these gun pretty deep into knots.
The issue I have run into with this massage gun is that the motor can overheat after extended use, about 10 minutes+, and will need a second to cool down and reset.
At the end of the day your choice will come down to budget. Buy nice or buy twice does come into place with the attachments, but, any massage gun you get will do the job decently well. You just need to find one that will last under the pressure you’ll apply to it and not destroy your ear drums while you use it above all else!
If you train hard and your muscles are sore daily, we recommend investing in purchasing a good massage gun so you can try to get blood flow back into tight areas faster!