A quick online search shows that there are lots of massage guns available for purchase. But which ones are worth your money? Keep reading for a physical therapist review of 5 of the best massage devices.
Physical Therapist Review of Massage Gun Benefits
A massage gun is one of many tools physical therapists use in the clinic and at home. If you aren’t familiar with this tool, a massage gun is a handheld, power massager that provides percussive vibration from a single head, the end of a “gun.” Conveniently, massage guns are generally more compact than other home massagers while packing a more powerful punch. Most massage guns feature a range of settings, from muscle-stirring motion to deep-tissue, rapid-fire percussion.
Using a massage gun is not just a cool fitness trend. I recommend them to my patients for decreasing muscle soreness and speeding injury recovery. Research shows that a massage gun can be used to relieve delayed-onset muscle soreness, so many athletes use these guns to help their muscles recover from a workout. The more sedentary among us can also benefit from a portable massager when treating areas of chronic pain and tension.
Finally, a massage gun is an affordable option in self-care. For the price of a single massage session, a gun can treat pain, tightness, and soreness in your muscles, day in and day out, whenever and wherever you are.
5 Massage Guns: A Physical Therapist Review
Bob & Brad Standard Massage Gun: Best all-around
The last three products on this list are designed by Bob & Brad, physical therapists with a long-running YouTube channel. We PTs specialize in treating muscle pain and tension, and for Bob & Brad’s products, that expertise shows.
Not only are Bob & Brad’s guns well-made and durable, they are remarkably effective. In fact, I recently purchased one as a gift for a family member – the highest physical therapist review I can give! I trust the Bob & Brad brand and know that this tool will work well and last a long time.
This gun has it all. The ergonomic design cushions the vibration well, and I found it’s comfortable to hold and use, even in difficult-to-reach spots like behind my back. Despite its size, it’s compact, lightweight, and portable. My favorite feature is how quiet this machine is, compared to massage guns of similar size and power. Even on the highest setting, I can talk on the phone or hear the tv without strain.
You can pinpoint nearly any area of soreness or tension with the 5 attachments and 5 settings. I’ve found that, regardless of the attachments, the highest setting on this gun is sometimes too intense for delicate areas such as the back of my neck. However, for any other muscle group, the standard massager delivers ample power and precision. You won’t overpay for power you won’t use.
Here are the specs for the Bob & Brad Massage Gun:
- 5 attachments
- 5 speeds; up to 3200rpm
- Retains charge up to 3 hours; 150 minutes continuous use
- USB C charger
Pros: Quiet for its size; lightweight and easy to use.
Cons: Can be too powerful/difficult to balance for delicate areas.
KraftGun: Best for power
If expense is not an issue, you might consider a premier piece of massage equipment like the Kraftgun. You’ll notice the difference in this product right away, from the design to the materials to the performance.
If you’ve ever used a massage gun, you know that they can be awkward to use or hold when trying to reach areas behind your back or on top of your shoulders. The Kraftgun gets around this inconvenience with multiple grip options and a longer body. You’ll be able to deliver massage power anywhere, precisely and easily.
Speaking of power, this gun is essentially a massage bazooka. You’ll achieve a deeper-tissue treatment using a Kraftgun than with any other device. Such power is well-supported by the design of the gun and the motor makeup. For instance, pushing a massage gun too far and too hard can cause it to stall. With this gun, you’ll rarely if ever experience this inconvenience; the gun is extremely hearty, with a durable stall force of up to 62 pounds.
But all these features come with a price. At $500, this gun is by far the most expensive on the list, although it’s cheaper than comparable guns on the market. All in all, such an investment will yield a high-quality, long-lasting tool that will more than pay for itself in massage appointments.
Here are the specs for the Kraftgun:
- $485 + tax (Or $365 with my discount)
- 4 attachments
- 3 speeds; 1800 – 2400ppm
- Variable Speed Setting for Recovery
- AC Charger
Pros: Multiple grips; easy to use; unbeatable power.
Cons: Expensive; lacks lower settings.
Kraftgun coupon: If you decide to purchase a Kraftgun massage gun, be sure to save $120 plus get free shipping with the PTProgress discount.
Recover Fun Massage Gun: Best affordable power
If you’re looking for a “heavyweight” massage gun that won’t break the bank, the Recover Fun Plus is a great option. Instead of shelling out as much as $500-600 for the Kraftgun or similar competitors, you can buy the Recover Fun Plus for under 200 bucks.
Despite the lower price tag, this gun is no compromise. The Recover Fun Plus has all the versatility of a lighter gun as well as the strength and durability to measure up to the Kraftgun. For precision treatment, Recover Fun Plus offers six versatile attachments, including a super-soft head for shock-absorption.
This gun features good battery length, too, lasting up to 3.5 hours, so you can use it several times in between charges. It’s also resistant to stalling out, able to withstand up to 62 pounds of stall force. So even if you plan to dig out your quads every day (I don’t necessarily recommend this), this gun won’t quit on you!
With its sturdy construction, sizable battery, and serious power, this gun is naturally heavier than other guns on this list, weighing in at 2.5 pounds. The powerful motor is somewhat noisy on the highest settings. However on levels 1-3, I found the volume was completely satisfactory and not disruptive to conversations or nearby activities.
Here are the specs for the Recover Fun Plus:
- 6 attachments
- 5 speeds; 25 – 55rps
- Battery life of 3.5 hours
- Standard charger
Pros: Sturdy construction; high stall tolerance.
Cons: Bulkier than other guns; not as quiet.
Bob & Brad Mini Massage Gun: Most sensitive; most compact
Have you ever booked a massage appointment with an unassumingly tiny, 95-pound masseuse, only to realize ten minutes into the session that they’re strong enough to beat you up? That’s the Mini massage gun, personified. At less than six inches long and weighing under a pound, the Mini is a small-but-mighty tool that will absolutely deliver the power and precision you need to break up the knots in your muscles. And because it features a tinier motor, it’s whisper-quiet.
Just because you chose a scaled-down gun doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on versatility. In fact, this gun might be the most versatile on the list. You’ll still get 5 attachments for a wide range of treatments over 5 different speeds, from gentle to intense. It doesn’t have the same power as the previous heavyweights, but I’ve found that most people don’t need a massage gun that intense.
If I had to choose only one massage gun off this list, it would be the Mini. Why? Even though it doesn’t reach the rpms of bigger guns, the Mini provides enough power for me to hit pretty much every area, including sensitive areas like my neck and forearm which would be too intense under a larger gun. Plus, it’s tiny size makes it great for traveling, storing, and toting to the gym.
Here are the specs for the Bob & Brad Mini Massage Gun:
- 5 attachments
- 5 speeds, up to 3000rpm
- Retains charge up to 3 hours
- USB C charger
Pros: Quiet; won’t overdo delicate areas (neck and shoulder); compact.
Cons: Not as high-power as the full-size guns.
Comparison of Bob & Brad massage guns
If you can’t decide between the two Bob & Brad massage guns, your needs can inform your choice. The Standard gun is more powerful than the Mini, so if you need a massage gun for hammering out your quads after a run, the Standard will probably get the job done to a more satisfactory degree. However, if you need to pinpoint delicate areas like your chest/collarbone area, you’ll do better with the Mini.
Both guns are quiet, though the Mini is quieter. Both guns are compact, though the Mini is more so. Both have a wide range of speeds, though the Standard is more powerful. Both guns offer the same types of attachments, although they are not interchangeable. And both use the same type of charger.
You’ll love using either gun for most massage needs; in fact, your family might even fight you for it. So why not get both? Together they cost around $200 on Amazon, which is less than a single massage gun elsewhere.
Bob & Brad Handheld Massager: Cheapest; best for light massage
Finally, the last device a physical therapist review is technically not a “massage gun”; rather, it’s a handheld, cordless massager that can provide some of the benefits of light massage at an affordable price.
Just like the other Bob & Brad products, this device features 5 attachments and 5 speeds, reaching 3600 pulses per minute. Perhaps its best feature is a long handle that’s perfect for massaging hard-to-reach areas like the middle of your back or behind your calves.
Compared to the guns, this device percusses at a shallower depth, so you won’t be able to achieve as intense of a deep-tissue massage for your muscles. But if you’ve tried massage guns and found them to be too intense and uncomfortable, this handheld massager might be perfect for you.
Finally, at under $40, this unit makes a great gift for all the people in your life: athletes, working adults, or even older relatives and friends. And because it’s from Bob & Brad, this product is guaranteed to be well-made and durable despite the low price tag.
Here are the specs for the Bob & Brad Handheld Massager:
- 5 attachments
- 5 speeds; up to 3600ppm
- Standard Charger
Pros: Handle accommodates hard-to-reach areas; not too intense; cheap.
Cons: Not a “massage gun”; doesn’t provide deep percussive action.
Physical Therapist Review: Summary
There you have it – a physical therapist’s review of 5 of the best massage devices on the market. I recommend any of them, depending on what exactly you’re looking for in a massage gun and what your price point is.
A massage gun won’t replace a routine of exercise and physical therapy nor put your masseuse out of commission. But in this age of DIYing, any one of these can deliver professional-grade muscle relief, at home or on the go.