Best percussion massager 2020: batter workout pain away with the best massage guns

The best percussion massager can ease muscle pain and discomfort at home or in the gym

Best percussion massager
(Image credit: Therabody)

With so many people living in constant back pain, there is an increased interest in the best percussion massagers lately. To make things more confusing, there are quite a few massage guns available on the market, making choosing one that’s right for your needs a difficult task.

That said, we can all agree that percussion massagers are one of the best massage tools one can use to batter away workout pain or to easy up stiff areas. The powerful motor of these devices provides effective percussive force which, combined with the soft massager heads, can rid muscle soreness from anywhere in the body.

By now, many devices come with instructions on how to use them effectively and target specific areas in the body. Let it be workout pain or a stiff neck after staring at the screen in the office all day, percussion massagers can help ease the pain, should they be used correctly.

What are the best percussion massagers?

A lot of percussion massager guns not only provide a similar massaging experience but they look pretty much the same too. This is understandable as ergonomics pose certain limitations to design: you need a handle so you can apply force with the guns and said handle will probably also house the battery, making it grip thicker and longer.

That said, our top pick, the Theragun Elite, has a unique shape which contributes to it being the top choice at the moment. The special triangular-shaped handle works really well when massaging your own body and the Elite is also light enough to hold yet powerful enough to apply some pressure on all areas of the body.

Our second pick, the Hyperice Hypervolt, has a more traditional shape but offers serious percussion powers nevertheless and it is also the most quiet of the lot. Hyperice has been also named the “Official Recovery Technology Partner” of the NBA in 2020, providing all NBA players with courtside access to its Hypervolt massager, so one can assume the Hypervolt is a decent enough unit.

The bronze goes to the Theragun mini, a super portable percussion massager that’s small enough to be carried in a handbag but still packs enough power to be effective. This no-frills percussion massager is great for everyday people who just want a simple enough device to treat a stiff neck or massage their feet.

 The best percussion massagers, in order

best percussion massager: Theragun Elite

(Image credit: Therabody)

1. Theragun Elite

Hands down the best percussion massager on the market today

Specifications
Battery life: 120 minutes
No of heads included: 5
Speed settings: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2400 percussions per minute
Stall force: 40 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Excellent built quality+Ergonomic handle is best for self-massage+Connects to the Therabody App via Bluetooth+Custom massager patterns+Carry case included
Reasons to avoid
- Relatively loud motor

• Buy the Theragun Elite directly from Theragun

Theragun has been dominating the percussion massager market for a couple of years now and with its latest Theragun range, the brand offers even more versatility to its customers. Of the four Theragun percussion massagers currently being sold, the Elite represents the Goldilocks-zone in terms of features and price: the high-end PRO is more expensive and aimed at professionals while the Prime lacks the OLED screen.

The Theragun Elite offers deep percussion strokes – 16 mm in amplitude, to be precise – and five speed options as default: 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200 and 2400 ppm. These speed options will be more than enough for most users but in case you need some more versatility and would like to set the Elite to 1837 ppm (?), you can do that through the Therabody App.

The Elite connects to the Therabody App via Bluetooth and targeted massage sessions can be started through the app plus you can also update the firmware of your Theragun too. There are quite a few different massaging options available in the app including wellness, sleep and more. Once the Elite is connected to the app, you can control the massager via the phone, such as starting and pausing sessions.

Thanks to the ergonomic handle, the Elite is great for self massaging and by shifting from one side of the handle to the other, most usually you can find an appropriate position to apply pressure to hard to reach areas such as the shoulder blades and the back of the thighs. The Elite might not have the most powerful motor on the market but it’s plenty good enough for most.

best percussion massager: Hyperice Hypervolt Plus

(Image credit: Hypervolt)

2. Hyperice Hypervolt Plus

A percussion massager designed by rocket engineers

Specifications
Battery life: 180 minutes
No of heads included: 5
Speed settings: 3 speed settings, up to 3,200 percussions per minute
Stall force: 55 llbs
Reasons to buy
+Delivers rapid percussions+Pressure sensor with light feedback+Near silent operation+Powerful motor (90W)
Reasons to avoid
-Carry case is extra

• Buy the Hyperice Hypervolt Plus directly from Hyperice

The Hyperice Hypervolt Plus (as in hyper-ice, not hype-rice) is the quietest percussion massager I tried yet it is almost the fastest one too: the Hypervolt Plus' max setting is 3,200 percussions per minute. The Hypervolt is not only faster than the Elite but also a bit heavier, not much though, but enough to help you apply some pressure on the body.

Much like Therabody, Hyperice has its own app now and it’s ‘powered by HyperSmart’, a data driven approach that recommends massage routines based on your workout activities which are being fed into the app through Apple Health and Strava (the app is only available in the Apple App Store at the moment). You can also control the latest generation, Bluetooth-enabled Hypervolt and Hypervolt Plus devices through the app.

The Hypervolt Plus has three speed settings, the max setting being 3,200 ppm which is pretty fast  but even on this setting, the Hypervolt Plus remains quiet thanks to the brushless motor and the Quiet glide technology. To make sure you apply enough pressure on your muscles, there is a LED pressure indicator on the back of the device so you know how firmly the Hypervolt is being pressed against your skin. You can probably feel it too but it is surprising to see how much you need to press the massager gun against the body for the sensor to be triggered.

The five heads included provide slightly more variety than in the case of the Theragun Elite: the flat head covers larger areas easier and the forked head works the muscle around the spine better, but you must get someone else to do that for you as you can’t apply much pressure on your back holding the Hypervolt Plus. On the upside, even if the Hypervolt Plus is being used by multiple people, the battery will last long enough so you won’t need the charge the massager too often.

best percussion massager: Theragun mini

(Image credit: Therabody)

3. Theragun mini

Highly portable and affordable

Specifications
Battery life: 150 minutes
No of heads included: 1
Speed settings: 1750, 2100, 2400 percussion per minute
Stall force: 20 lbs
Reasons to buy
+Portable design+Long battery life, compared to size
Reasons to avoid
-Less powerful than standard percussion massager-No Bluetooth connectivity to Therabody App

• Buy the Theragun mini directly from Theragun

Therabody came up with a great idea to make the entry level model of its Theragun range accessible but not cheap, indeed a fine line to walk. The Teragun mini was not designed for athletes bot everyday people who might have a stiff neck or want to quickly blast their sore calves after having to stand all day at work.

It might be advertised as 'pocket-sized' but the Theragun mini definitely won't fit in your jeans pockets. You will be able to shove it in handbag or backpack pockets, though, so it might just the phrasing that's slightly misleading.

The mini is surprisingly not as quiet as the Hypervolt but more quiet than the Elite and if you want to, you can even use it in public. You might get some funny looks but who cares when you can relieve your muscles anywhere, anytime? Let others be jealous of your Theragun mini. 

Thanks to the three speed settings and the high-amplitude percussions, using the Theragun mini will feel powerful enough for people who are not used to sports- or deep-tissue massage. However, for athletes who are, the mini might not be able to effectively relax muscles after rigorous workouts. They can just get a Theragun Elite instead.

• Read the full Theragun mini review

best percussion massager: Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun

(Image credit: Addsfit)

4. Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun

Fast paced action

Specifications
Battery life: 270 minutes
No of heads included: 5
Speed settings: 1700, 1900, 2100, 2300, 2500, 2900, 3100, 3300 percussion per minute
Stall force: 26 lbs
Amplitude: 12 mm
Reasons to buy
+9 speed settings+Instruction booklet is surprisingly informative+Carry case included+Good quality massager heads
Reasons to avoid
-Removing the heads is a bit fiddly

• Buy the Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun directly from Addsfit

Addsfit is one of the up and coming percussion massager brands – est. mid-2019 – and its MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun is a decent percussion massager, despite the fact that it looks pretty much every other massage gun on the market today. A closer observation sheds a bit more light on what sets the Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun apart from the competition.

The Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun has nine different speed settings and also the highest percussion rate of all the tested devices (3,300 rpm). On the flipside, the stall force is not the highest at 26 lbs and the 12 mm amplitude is also behind the top dogs a bit.

The massager heads included have a nice feel to them and not just hard plastic which was a pleasant surprise. The heads all share one massager base which makes changing them around a bit more fiddly at first but once you read the booklet you realise that as opposed to pulling it off, you must pull the heads down to take them off the base.

Talking about the instruction booklet: the Addsfit MAX Deep Tissue Massage Gun comes with the most informative printed instruction booklet that includes detailed info on the heads and the gun itself, great for beginner users. That said, the Therabody App and the Hyperice App both contain a heapload of info and even pre-programmed massage programs, but at the same time, their massagers are three times the price of the Addsfit MAX.

best percussion massager: ExoGun DreamPro

(Image credit: ExoGun DreamPro)

5. Exogun DreamPro

Specifications
Battery life: up to a month
No of heads included: 4
Speed settings: 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400, 2800, 3200 percussion per minute
Reasons to buy
+Ergonomic handle makes applying pressure easier+Cheap and cheerful+Long battery life+Carry case included
Reasons to avoid
-Heads are harder plastic-No UK charger

• Buy the Exogun DreamPro directly from Exogun

The Exogun Dreampro looks and feels like a decent percussion massager gun. It comes with four massager heads and a complimentary carry case, all for a very friendly price of £124/$159.

On paper, the DreamPro is on par with the best percussion massagers on the market: is has a 16 mm stroke length (much like the Theragun Elite), a brushless motor, quiet operation, high stall force, six speed settings and an ultra long battery life. The battery is said to last up to a month but I assume this very much depends on usage but it's definitely long.

Controlling the DreamPro is also easy: there is a touchscreen panel on the back and long pressing the the power button will turn the device on, then any short tap of the same button will turn up the frequency. The intensity level you are currently on is displayed on the left and the battery status is on the right. Since there is only room for two digits, the battery will be displayed as 99%, even if it's full.

I tried to find something that was wrong with the Exogun DreamPro but couldn't. It is worth mentioning that the first review unit that I received had a faulty battery but I was sent a new one straight away which was reassuring. The second model's battery was working fine.