Massage guns offer pain management and muscle healing. Here’s how to choose one.
Maybe your New Year’s resolution has you faithfully working out. Or you’ve had one too many marathon Zoom meetings. Or maybe you slept wrong and now your neck and shoulder are all tingly and stiff.
In any case, you need to find some relief for your sore and aching muscles. But with the threat of COVID-19 still lurking in the background, going for a massage isn’t exactly the safest thing to do at the moment.
Well then, why not try a massage gun?
Last updated on 11 May 2021. Prices of exercise equipment and apps are subject to change without prior notice.
Table of contents
- How do massage guns work?
- Things to note when using a massage gun
- 5 Best massage guns for every user type
- What to look out for when buying a massage gun
How do massage guns work?
An item that became popular fairly recently, massage guns are handheld devices used by athletes and therapists to warm up stiff muscles before exercising. It is also used to treat pain and soreness, post-workout.
Used regularly, massage guns are said to help the body recover from the strenuous exercise, reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow, improve or restore mobility and get rid of muscle knots.
Massage guns follow the therapeutic principles of percussive and vibration therapy. The first iterations were mostly shaped like a handheld drill. Recently, newer models with different shapes, such as the Theragun’s ball head, have also sprung up.
In essence, a massage gun uses a pulsating head to deliver a vigorous massage to the affected area. This creates a similar health effect as traditional massage therapies.
Things to note when using a massage gun
Most massage guns have different speeds for a range of intensities, so you can choose a setting according to how sore or painful your muscles are.
They also come with different attachment heads to target different muscle groups.
Their portable nature allows you to perform a self-massage at any time, but certain areas such as the back may be difficult to reach on your own.
Massage guns are generally safe and suitable for use without training. Apply common sense when using – if it’s too painful, you’re using too much pressure.
Move on to other areas when the skin gets red and flushed, and avoid sensitive areas such as major arteries in the neck, or bony protrusions like the elbows, kneecaps and ankles.
5 Best massage guns for every user type
|Brand and model||Battery life||Speed and settings||Special feature||Price|
|Xiaomi Merach Nano Pro||7 to 12.5 hours||1600 to 3200 RPM, 3 settings||Light and portable||$99 at Shopee|
|BUTYCE Y8 Prom Max||Up to 24 hours||1300 to 3200 RPM, 7 settings||Ultra long battery life||$163 at Amazon|
|Hydragun||3 to 6 hours||1200 to 3200 RPM, 6 settings||Quiet (30 to 50dB)||$399 at hydragun.sg|
|Theragun Prime||Up to 2 hours||1750 to 2400 PPM, 5 settings||Integrates with Apple Health and Google Fit||$439 at Lazada|
|Hyperice Hypervolt||Up to 3 hours||Up to 3200 RPM, 3 settings||Bluetooth connectivity with Hyperice app||$599 at Lazada|
Best for: on-the-go users
Weighing in at just 360g, the Nano Pro is ideal for those who want the option to treat muscle soreness on the go. Simply throw this into your gym bag, handbag or briefcase and you’re good to go.
This massage gun may be light in weight but not in features. It packs up to 12 hours of battery runtime, which means you probably only need to charge it once every two weeks.
Additionally, it has three settings, making it suitable for a wider range of treatment areas.
Best for: heavy-duty use
With a single charge that lasts up to 24 hours, this massage gun is made for heavy-duty use. This means it can be shared by multiple members of the house, or among the badminton team after a workout session.
The device comes with seven different settings from 1,300 to 3,200 percussions per minute, and eight attachment heads (the most on the list) for greater flexibility in treatment areas and types.
It is also exceptionally quiet, with maximum noise topping out at around 55dB.
Get this one if you’re looking for a wallet-friendly, multi-use massage gun that you don’t have to charge all the time.
Best for: those who prefer a quiet, low-noise massage
Touted as one of the quietest, yet full-featured massage guns on the market, the Hydragun boasts whisper-quiet operation of 30 to 50dB (for reference, a normal conversation is around 60dB).
If you need to use your massage gun in a low-noise environment, such as the office during your lunch break or around bedtime, the Hydragun should suit your needs nicely.
At $399, it’s not the cheapest model out there, but you’re getting six speeds going up to a full 3,200 RPM and up to six hours of battery life.
Best for: casual gym goers
Weekend warriors and casual gym goers wanting a more premium experience might do well with this one.
The Theragun Prime is the basic model from Therabody, one of the leading brands in the field of percussive therapy. As the fifth iteration since the first improvised model in 2009, it sports the brand’s signature triangle design.
It is also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can pair the device with your mobile phone for enhanced functionality such as treatment reminders and personalised routines.
The Theragun Prime offers five settings, topping out at a less intense 2,400 percussions per minute. Its battery life is relatively short at two hours, so be sure to keep the charger handy.
Best for: serious athletes
Hyperice is the other leader in the massage gun market, so it’s no surprise that their prices are on the higher end too.
If you’re willing to splurge, you’ll find the Hypervolt to be a solidly built, powerful massage gun that delivers up to 3,200 percussions per minute.
Yet, with its patented technology, noise levels are kept low – at least lower than you’d expect given the power this massage gun generates.
Hypervolt is also capable of connecting to your mobile phone via the Hyperice app, allowing for automated operation via guided routines.
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What to look out for when buying a massage gun
Massage guns can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Fundamentally, they all work the same way, so it can be difficult to justify paying premium prices for the high-end brands.
The price difference usually boils down to the massage gun’s build and finish (plastic vs metal), features (number of settings, Bluetooth, auto shut-off) and other secondary characteristics.
Where you buy from can also affect the price somewhat. Original websites may hold sales during popular shopping seasons, but overseas sellers may offer a lower retail price.
Some online marketplaces may offer credit card discounts and promotions too.
If you’re a casual user and don’t foresee heavy-duty use, it might be best to choose according to your budget.
As massage guns have moving parts, you should expect some amount of noise when in use.
Generally, you can expect larger models meant for heavy duty use to be louder than their smaller counterparts.
However, most new generation massage guns are quieter than their predecessors, and generally can be used while watching TV or holding a conversation.
Still, you may want to avoid a session during bedtime if you’re sharing your room with a light sleeper.
Battery life for massage guns can differ widely, from a couple of hours to a full day of use. A longer battery life, while convenient, may not be as important unless you need to use your massage gun on the go.
This is because you use the massage gun for a few minutes at a time when treating localised areas. Larger areas such as the entire back may require a longer session, but it is unusual to have the device running for hours at a time.
Massage guns are a quick and easy way to knead your aches away, but just how much are you really saving? We calculate the difference between massage guns and actual massages below.
To find out the actual cost of a massage gun, we’ll be calculating the cost per use for the most affordable and expensive massage gun listed in the table above.
|Name and type of massage gun||Price of a massage gun||Number of uses||Price per use|
|Xiaomi Merach Nano Pro||$99||Once every two weeks, 26|
Once a week, 52
|Hyperice Hypervolt||$599||Once every two weeks, 26|
Once a week, 52
A DIY-massage for less than the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal? Sign us up!
Yes, we know that they are definitely more expensive, but by how much exactly? Calculations below are based on a 60-minute body massage at an affordable no-frills massage chain.
|Name of massage chain||Price of a 60-minute body massage||Number of visits a year||Price per year|
|Ancient Dynasty Massage & Spa||$50||Once every two weeks, 26||$1,300|
|$50||Once a week, 52||$2,600|
The cost really adds up, and this doesn’t even include travel time, the effort needed to dress up, public transport fares, car park fees or cost of petrol!
Most massage chains offer packages that range from $200 to thousands of dollars. While that would help lower the cost per session to around $40 or $45, it would still set you back by $1,040/year and disrupt your budget for the month.
To put things into perspective, that same amount is equivalent to an all-inclusive 4D3N staycation at a 5-star hotel or a sizable investment pot to cash in on the latest cryptocurrency hype.
So, which should you choose?
|Massage gun/massage chain||Name||Price for 26 uses/visits||Price for 52 uses/visits|
|Massage gun||Xiaomi Merach Nano Pro||$99||$99|
|Massage gun||Hyperice Hypervolt||$599||$599|
|Massage chain||Ancient Dynasty Massage & Spa||$1,300||$2,600|
Our calculations show that even if you were to pick a higher-end massage gun, you will still be saving a whooping $2,001 a year!
The initial cost of a massage gun might be slightly steep for some, but if you require massages frequently, this option will make the most financial sense.
Not to mention, even if you overwork a massage gun and need a replacement, its total cost is still more affordable than actual massages for a year.
The downside is that you can’t exactly relax in peace as you would have to self-massage or
bribe ask your partner for help with hard to reach places.
Going for an actual massage, on the other hand, is more expensive and time-consuming—as you’ll have to physically make your way to the shop. But in exchange, you get 60-minutes of pure uninterrupted muscle kneading bliss.
Our take? Don’t settle for either, go for a mix of both. Purchase a sturdy mid-range massage gun that can be used whenever your aches start creeping up, and pair it with a monthly wellness session at your favourite massage chain. This way, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds without busting your monthly budget.
Regardless of how much you are prepared to spend for a massage gun, don’t let the expense go to waste. Make sure you purchase it with a cashback credit card. Apply for one through our simple comparison tool and you could get rewarded with cash or attractive prizes!*
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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.