Theragun mini review: a portable massage gun that's powerful enough to ease up a stiff neck but not help athlete's recovery effectively.
Therabody – formerly known as Theragun – is a household name in massage gun circles. Its products are mostly famous for their ergonomic handle that enables people to massage every part of their body effectively. This includes the back, an area notoriously hard to self-massage.
Despite the rebranding, Therabody still calls its massage guns 'Theragun', which might be confusing at first, but I'm sure we'll get used to it eventually.
Anyhow, the newest addition to the Theragun family, the Theragun mini, is different from the rest of the massage gun lot. It has a triangular handle and is said to be even more portable than the also portable, 'full size' massage guns. Therabody goes as far as calling the mini 'pocket sized'.
Well, unless you like walking around wearing cargo trousers, it's unlikely you will be able to shove the mini in your pockets. Come to think of it, pocket could backpack pocket, and in that case, you can call the Theragun mini a pocket-sized massager.
Admittedly, the Theragun mini is less powerful than its larger siblings and lacks the versatility of those. Nevertheless, I can see it being popular among office workers who might use it to ease a stiff neck after a long day in the office.
Is the Theragun mini a worthwhile investment? Read T3's Theragun mini review to find out.
Looking for something more soothing? Get a Shiatsu massager instead.
Theragun mini review: price and availability
Theragun mini review: ergonomics and design
The Theragun mini is a portable percussion massage tool that helps relieve soreness in your muscles on the go. Given the compact form factor, it has less oomph than its bigger siblings, and I hope no one expected the same strength and versatility from the £175 mini as from the £549 Theragun Pro.
Unlike more expensive models, the Theragun mini is less of an athletes device to reduce recovery times and more of an office warrior's tool to ease up that stiff neck after staring at the monitor for 8+ hours. It can be operated very easily – there is literally only one button on the Theragun mini – and the grip makes holding the mini comfortable enough for working the traps, shoulders and neck.
The Theragun mini uses the adapted QX35 Motor with QuietForce Technology. Although it is not loud per se, the mini is definitely not quiet enough to use in public without annoying people around you, especially at the highest speed setting. Using it in open spaces, such as parks and benches, is fine but not on the tube or office.
Theragun mini review: how to use it
There are three speed settings to choose from: 1,750, 2,100 or 2,400 percussions per minute. If you haven't used these massage tools before, I recommend starting at the lowest setting until you get used to the sensation, which shouldn't take long, a couple of weeks tops.
For inexperienced users, even the lowest setting will provide a strong enough massage experience. Still, once the initial break-in period is over, you will be surprised how well you adapted to the mini. As soon as the knots in your muscles have been eased, you will be amazed at how weak it feels at lower settings compared to when you first started using the mini.
That said, the Theragun mini doesn't feel weak and especially considering the small body of the device, it delivers powerful strokes even at low-speed settings. The massager head has an amplitude of 12 mm, which feel firm enough on the skin.
There is only one attachment included with the mini – the standard ball head – but it is compatible with all fourth-generation attachments.
Theragun mini review: battery life
The Theragun mini has a battery life of 150 minutes and a charge time of 80 minutes. I highly doubt that many people will use the mini for more than 10 minutes a day, meaning you won't have to charge it more than once every other week, and even when you do, it'll be charged rather quickly. Therefore, taking the charger with you when you are out of the house is not necessary.
Theragun mini review: Therabody App
The Therabody app has recently been launched and mainly functions as a library of routines you can follow using your Theragun device. Some models can even connect to the app using Bluetooth, not the mini, though, but you can still follow the 'protocols' – as the app puts it – manually.
In the app, you'll find guided routines for sleeping or soothing different body parts, and you can use the illustrations to know where to massage the body and for how long. Admittedly, it would be better to have the full Therabody App experience with the Theragun mini, but I assume some corners had to be cut to keep the price down.
Theragun mini review: Theragun percussion massagers
There are four different percussion massagers included in the Theragun family:
- Theragun mini: entry level model, also the most portable
- Theragun Prime: a simplified version of the Elite with no LED screen but still smart app compatible
- Theragun Elite: the top model for individual use with an OLED screen and customisable speed range
- Theragun PRO: professional-grade model with a rotating arm and 300-minute battery life
If you choose the Prime, you pay £100 extra for the triangular-shaped handle (great for working the back) and the app connection, but that has a slightly shorter battery life and is less portability. The Elite is the model I'd recommend for athletes, especially cyclists and runners, to work the calves and quads after workouts. The PRO is best for – err – pros.
Theragun mini review: who is it recommended for?
The Theragun mini would work well for people who have a sedentary lifestyle and exercise a bit less than average, such as people working in offices or at other desk-based jobs. I can also see it being useful for people in retail and hospitality who stand around quite a lot and probably not don't pay any attention to their posture in general.
For athletes, the Theragun mini doesn't have enough strength to penetrate the muscles deep enough and effectively help recovery. Even for them, though, the Theragun mini can provide a quick fix and relieve tension on the go without the hassle of carrying a full-size percussion massager with them.
Theragun mini review: verdict
Therabody came up with a great idea to make the entry-level model of its Theragun range accessible but not cheap, a fine line to walk indeed. Once you let go of the concept that percussion massagers are for athletes only, you will realise just how convenient the Theragun mini is.
The Theragun mini might not be pocket-sized, but it can easily fit into a larger handbag and definitely in a cycling backpack or gym bag. It is also quiet to use in open public spaces but maybe not discreet enough to be used on a bus or in a quiet environment such as an office. It's not loud enough to disturb the family members at home, but you might not want to start your session right in front of your TV when your significant other's programme is on.
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, the mini might not be powerful enough to relax muscles after rigorous workouts effectively. For them, I recommend the Theragun Elite instead.
Theragun mini review: also consider
The Hypervolt GO is a similarly small massage gun with a brushless high-torque 40 W motor, three speeds (up to 3200 percussions per minute), and an 18 V rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts 150 minutes per charge. The main difference is the handle, and, of course, the higher speed setting.