The Best Massage Gun to Knock Out Those Knots

Tension? I don’t know her.

bySophie Baker|
The Best Massage Gun to Knock Out Those Knots
Work out your tension with a massage gun. Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

Tight, sore muscles and tense, grumpy hips and spines are a fact of life. Aging, being active, sitting, and stress all contribute to the problem. Realistically, you can’t avoid them all. But help is at hand with massage guns, which are built on methods used in physical and sports therapy, massage, and other healing fields. Percussive massage guns are designed to reach deep in the muscles and fascia (e.g., IT bands and your lower back) in ways that stretching simply cannot do, and to allow you to DIY at home. Their effectiveness has translated into skyrocketing popularity and a constant proliferation of new options to match. Selecting the ideal model to serve your needs can be overwhelming. Here’s what you should be asking to find the best option, and four choices that will treat you well. 

  • Where do you hold the most tension? There’s a bit of a “square peg, round hole” thought that goes into selecting a massage gun: The one you choose needs to suit the area you most need to address. Many larger massage guns come with multiple attachments for this reason. But new shapes are also being manufactured now (e.g., for your back and neck). They’re worth considering — especially if you don’t have someone at home who can operate the massage gun where you can’t reach.
  • What’s the cost-benefit for you? Massage guns aren’t cheap. But if muscle tension is a perpetual thing, chances are you’re regularly dishing out cash for massages, yoga classes, ointments or other treatments. Within the realm of what is financially feasible, a massage gun is an investment, so consider the long-term cost-benefit and item’s quality and durability, not just upfront cost.
  • Do you need guidance to use it? If you know anatomy well, you may not need the help. But where, how, and why your body holds tension is more complex than just “there”—and it’s highly interconnected. So if you’re looking to get the most out of your massage gun, consider brands that provide tutorials and programming. For example, the (free) Theragun app can control your device through Bluetooth, and has a large selection of guided videos.

Our Picks for the Best Massage Gun on Amazon

Top Pick Overall: Theragun Elite Massage Gun

The O.G. in the category, with many upgrades since its invention. Significantly more powerful and quieter than most, with an easier-to-maneuver grip for tricky spots.

Great for Your Spine: Theragun Wave Duo

Lay on it, put it behind your lower back while seated, use it on your hips and calves and shoulders, too (and control it via Bluetooth from your phone). An affordable, safe, and extremely effective variation on the massage gun.

Budget Pick: Aerlang Massage Gun

It sacrifices some of the features of the top pick, but it’s also about one-third the price. If you’re curious but not ready to throw down the equivalent of a car payment, a great option.

Great for Travel: Theragun Mini

A smaller (and cheaper) option from the leading manufacturer, this one is agile and effective—and more comfortable to hold than the larger choices.

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