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8 Best Massage Guns and Theraguns (2023) Top Alternatives and Tips

8 Best Massage Guns and Theraguns (2023): Top Alternatives and Tips

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8 Best Massage Guns and Theraguns (2023): Top Alternatives and Tips

Therabody’s percussive therapy devices help soothe achy muscles. Here’s our guide to its lineup—and some cheaper alternatives.

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Featured in this article

Person wearing athletic clothes stretching and using massage gun on their forearm.

What Does a Percussive Therapy Device Do?

What the Experts Have to Say

Best Theragun (and Quietest)

Theragun Elite

Read more

Best for Serious Athletes

Theragun Pro (5th Gen)

Read more

The Best Theragun Alternative

Yunmai Slim Elegant

Read more

Massage guns, also known as percussive therapy devices, help relax and soothe sore muscles, whether you’re an athlete or just hunching over a desk all day. Theraguns (made by Therabody) tend to be some of the most popular. We’ve tested and like the entire range, but they’re expensive. There are plenty of Theragun alternatives out there for hundreds of dollars less. In this guide, you’ll find a mix of both for all budgets—plus helpful information from a physical therapist and athletic trainer on how these devices can help our bodies. These are our favorite massage guns.

Updated November 2022: We’ve added new Theraguns, two models from Sharper Image, and Therabody’s SmartGoggles.

Julian Chokkattu and Jaina Grey have also contributed to this guide.

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  • Person wearing athletic clothes stretching and using massage gun on their forearm.

    Photograph: Georgii Boronin/Getty Images

    What Does a Percussive Therapy Device Do?

    What the Experts Have to Say

    Jacklyn Plonski, an outpatient orthopedic and pediatric physical therapist, likens percussive therapy devices to using a foam roller or getting a professional physical therapy treatment. Here’s what she has to say:

    “As we exercise and challenge our muscles, we cause breakdown within the muscle fibers, which in turn stimulates muscle growth and regrowth, hypertrophy (increased muscle size), and strength. Mechanical stimulation of a muscle [with a device like the Theragun] causes increased blood flow and the release of histamines to the stimulated area. What this does is allow the increased blood flow to decrease the inflammatory response, decrease muscle soreness, and break up knots in athletes’ musculature.” Plonksi has seen anecdotal evidence supporting the use of a Theragun-like device, and no apparent negative effects, but she recommends people always talk to a physician before trying a device.

    Shelby Milne, an athletic trainer at the University of Pennsylvania, says athletes at the school swear by massage guns and have used them for both pre- and post-training. “The oscillations can also act as a warming modality for the muscles and tissues before the activity.”

  • Photograph: Therabody

    Best Theragun (and Quietest)

    Theragun Elite

    WIRED reviewer Jaina Grey says the Theragun Elite tenderized her muscles like nothing else. With the right foam tip, even on its lowest speed setting, it was able to relieve deep tissue pain and muscle tension with just a few minutes of use. The app integration makes it easy to create and store massage routines for recurring aches, and it’s surprisingly quiet. (It’s Therabody’s quietest device.)

    It doesn’t have a rotating arm, but it doesn’t need it. The triangle design allows you to position your hand to reach back and neck muscles. It comes with one battery, as opposed to the two you get with the Theragun Pro, but you’ll get about two hours of use on a single charge. That should be long enough for most sessions.

    Has 40 pounds of pressure and comes with five attachment heads and a carrying case

  • Photograph: Therabody

    Best for Serious Athletes

    Theragun Pro (5th Gen)

    The Pro is the most expensive Theragun and the kind of device used by college athletic departments and professional sports teams. The 2022 version is quieter than the previous generation, but I didn’t notice much of a difference in sound or use. It’s still an excellent gadget. It’s the only Theragun with a rotating arm, which makes it effortless to use on any spot that’s awkward to reach by yourself. There’s also a Supersoft attachment for sensitive areas. 

    The new carrying case isn’t as nice as what I’ve seen from other competitors—you can typically expect slots specifically for each attachment, but Therabody just has a separate soft case for the attachments so you have to carry two cloth cases. It’s no dealbreaker, but you’d expect a nicer solution at this price. I suggest saving some cash and going with the fourth-generation Theragun Pro, which will net you nearly all the same benefits. 

    Has 60 pounds of pressure and six attachment heads, plus a carrying case

  • Photograph: Yunmai

    The Best Theragun Alternative

    Yunmai Slim Elegant

    Yunmai’s Slim Elegant (SE) massage gun is simple and works well. I particularly like its attachments. They’re firm but coated with soft silicone that feels nice against the skin. Other massage guns are either rigid plastic or soft foam—neither of which feel bad—but these feel better. The SE has five speeds, including two “massage modes.” These modes feel like variations of the first speed, and I would have rather seen more varied speed options (two and three are much more powerful than one). It includes a charging base you can stick to a hard surface if you’d like.

    Comes with four attachment heads, a carrying case, and a charging stand

  • Photograph: Sharper Image

    This One Adds Hot and Cold Therapy

    Sharper Image Powerboost Pro

    Sharper Image has made a name for itself in the massage gun world with several great massagers at a range of prices. The Powerboost Pro+ is my favorite for its temperature attachment, which can go from 38 degrees to 115 degrees. You can use this one for just the heat and cold, or with pulsations like any other percussive attachment. It has five other heads, and they’re all made from a nice hard silicone. The Pro+ is one of the quieter models in this guide too. It gets louder as you increase the speed, but even then it’s not blaring. It has a charging stand, which is convenient. 

    Comes with six attachment heads, a carrying case, and a charging stand

    A cheap heating alternative: I still love the SKG F5 and it’s usually available under $100. There’s now an updated version we haven’t tried yet, but it comes with nicer attachments. It reaches 127 degrees Fahrenheit and is significantly smaller and lighter than the Sharper Image model, but you can’t use the massage function at the same time as the heat function.

  • Photograph: Sharper Image 

    A Budget Pick

    Sharper Image Powerboost Deep Tissue Massager

    This Sharper Image model is usually around $100 or less, making it the best full-size budget massage device. It gently works out all the pains and kinks in your muscles—don’t expect a ton of power behind each pulse—and it’s light and comfortable to hold.

    Comes with five attachment heads and a carrying case

    Another Sharper Image massager: Sharper Image’s Powerboost Flex ($150) is one of the only non-Therabody massage guns I’ve tried with a pivoting arm to help reach those inaccessible spots. The four attachments aren’t as nice as the Powerboost Pro+, but it’s smaller and lighter, with the same six speeds.

  • Photograph: Lyric

    The Prettiest Massager

    Lyric Massager

    I’m tired of shiny, ugly plastic, so I appreciate that Lyric prioritized function and design with its massage gun. It’s pretty, with a modern shape that’s much thinner than other guns and pleasant matte colors. (It looks more like a sex toy, which is a compliment.) Its small touch screen explains each of the four attachments and walks you through guided massages—or you can use it manually. Plus, it has an extension handle you can click on to get hard-to-reach areas like your back. 

    The company says this massager uses Rhythm Therapy based on vibroacoustic science and offers a wider frequency range and lower amplitude than other massage guns. It claims this can “help nourish the body’s parasympathetic mode” to promote rest or increase energy, depending on which function you choose. I can’t say if it was vibroacoustically soothing me to sleep, and its highest level isn’t as powerful as others in this guide, but I liked using it for day-to-day needs. There’s a new app you can use for iPhones (Android is on the way) to follow along with guided massage sessions.

    Comes with four attachment heads and a docking station

  • Photograph: iLive

    A Portable Massage Gun

    iLive Portable Massage Gun

    Most of the devices on this list are pretty compact and their carrying cases make them portable. But sometimes you need a little massager to keep in your purse or desk drawer for soothing sore muscles no matter the place. This iLive massager works for those moments. I wish it came with a carrying case, but it’s small enough to throw in a backpack or tote. It’s not powerful, but it’s soothing enough, considering the price. If you’re putting your muscles through intense training, you might want to invest in something else.

    Comes with four attachment heads 

  • Photograph: LifePro

    Most Versatile (Has 8 Attachments)

    LifePro Sonic Massage Gun

    The LifePro Sonic has eight attachments, the most of any massager we’ve tried. They have a focus on deep tissue work and specific knots; there’s even one that looks creepily like a finger (for deep pressure). It’s quite powerful at its highest level, so if you have gnarly aches, you might like it over the priciest Theragun. The Sonic is a little heavy and doesn’t have a digital display, but it offers LEDs to show the five intensity levels as well as a battery indicator. I also like LifePro’s hand massagers and eye massagers if you need a whole-body reset.

    Comes with eight attachment heads and a carrying case

  • Photograph: Therabody

    More From Therabody

    Rollers and TENS Units

    Therabody offers other muscle aids aside from massage guns, some of which we’ve tried. Its new SmartGoggles ($199) might be the best gadget I’ve tested this year. Connect them to the Therabody app to choose one of three modes—Focus, SmartRelax, and Sleep. It vibrates, massages, and heats up and makes me go into an almost catatonic state in the best way. I get some gnarly headaches right behind my eyes, and these really help.

    Foam rolling is great for releasing tension and soothing sore muscles, and Therabody has three devices that combine rolling and vibrations. The Wave Roller ($149) is the most similar to a traditional, textured foam roller, but with the vibrations of a percussive device. This one is best for full-body rolling. The small Solo ($79) and the Duo ($99) (we tried the latter), are both more portable and designed for more pinpointed treatment. Consider spending the extra $20 for the Duo.

    The PowerDot 2.0 Muscle Stimulator ($349) works for sore muscles and period cramps by using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). A reusable pad (or pads) sticks to the part of your body that’s sore, and the actual devices attach to that pad magnetically. Through an app, you can control the intensity or choose a dedicated session. I was scared it was going to hurt or feel like a shock, but it didn’t. Just start low and slow.

  • Photograph: Sportneer

    More Percussive Devices We Like

    Honorable Mentions

    We’ve now tried quite a few massage guns, and they all get the job done safely and comfortably and come with (mostly) the same attachments. Our picks above narrowly beat these out, you’ll still be happy with any of the devices listed below, especially if the price is right.

    • Theragun Mini 2nd Gen ($199): The Mini is as bare-bones as a Theragun can get, and much more portable than its siblings. It still offers 20 pounds of pressure, but the size makes it awkward to use on your back. We haven’t tried this new version that was released in 2022, but it’s nearly identical to the model we tested, just slightly smaller and lighter.
    • Theragun Prime ($299): We did not test the Prime, but based on its specs, it’s right in the middle of Theragun’s pack. The Prime uses 30 pounds of force—10 less than the Elite but 10 more than the Mini. This probably isn’t the best fit for a professional athlete constantly working their body to the max, but for everyday aches and pains, it’s more than sufficient.
    • Lairlux Massage Gun EM-03Pro ($89): Lairlux’s massage gun is great, but ultimately the foam attachments feel just OK (it comes with two foam attachments and four plastic ones). However, I love that the digital controls allow you to set it at exactly the right intensity from level one to 20, instead of what is sometimes a big jump between two levels. 
    • Sportneer Percussive Massage Device ($130): I like the Sportneer nearly as much as the Sharper Image Powerboost Deep Tissue Massager above. It comes with six attachments, including two that are metal-topped for use with massage oil. There are six intensity levels, but the last two or three feel like overkill.
    • Turonic G5 Massage Gun ($180): I really like using the Turonic. It’s light (much lighter than the LifePro Sonic above) and has one of the lowest intensity levels. That’s good for people who generally feel that “low” isn’t quite low enough on massage guns. It’s still quite powerful too. It has seven attachments.
    • Hyperice Hypervolt Plus Bluetooth ($199): If you can find the Hypervolt on sale, it’s a good option that has a Bluetooth-connected app like Therabody’s devices. It’s heavy and doesn’t come with a carrying case, though it has a small case for its five attachments. The Hypervolt Go launched after we tested this one, so we can’t vouch for it, but it’s cheaper. (It only comes with two attachments.)
  • Photograph: Therabody

    What About Older Theragun Models?

    Theragun G3

    The models mentioned above are what Therabody currently sells on its website, but you may still find older models, like the G3, for sale on Amazon. We haven’t tried them, but we’re confident they will perform well enough. (The G3, in particular, isn’t too old; it debuted in 2019.) It comes down to price. The last time we saw the G3 for sale, it was only $50 less than the Prime. (It gets 40 pounds of pressure and comes with four attachment heads.)

    If $50 off is enough of a deal for you, then go for it. It doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity, but it will still work with the app. However, if you’re going to spend that kind of money, we think you should get one of the newer models. Anything older than the G3 likely isn’t worth it, unless the price is shockingly low.

  • Photograph: Therabody

    Theragun Accessories to Consider

    Useful Stuff

    If you’ve decided to get a Theragun, there are additional accessories available. Most importantly, you can buy foam tips separately, so don’t think you have to buy the Theragun Pro to get the relief you need. You can currently get the supersoft, wedge, large ball, thumb, standard ball, dampener, and cone attachments separately. You can also purchase a Duo Adapter Set, stands, extra batteries, and wireless chargers.

  • Photograph: Therabody

    For Help Getting Started

    Therabody App

    You don’t need the Therabody app (available on iPhone and Android) to operate any of the Theragun massagers, but if you’ve never used something like this, it can be helpful. (If you buy the SmartGoogles, you have to use the app.) The app lets you choose ailments, specific body parts you want to work on, or activities like relaxing your muscles before bed, and you’ll see steps to follow to use the device to its fullest. You can also save your favorite massages to get back to them quickly. 

Medea Giordano turned her shopping problem into a career as a product writer for WIRED. She covers a little bit of everything but loves health, beauty, and pet tech. Prior to WIRED, she was an assistant editor at Wirecutter and an assistant in the newsroom of The New York Times…. Read more

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