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Theragun review: Supercharge your post-workout massage

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
375
inc VAT

Theragun is the "gold standard" of massage guns, but is it worth its hefty price tag and how does it compare to cheaper alternatives?

Pros 
Well made
Easy to use
Terrific app
Cons 
Expensive
Loud
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Massage guns are the next big thing in lifestyle tech and the Theragun is widely considered to be the gold standard. This rechargeable handheld device repetitively pounds your body with a specific amount of force with the aim of quickly activating your muscles or easing tension within them. Essentially, it’s intended to be a DIY alternative to a professional massage or a faster way to relieve post-workout muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation compared to a foam roller.

Theragun recently welcomed Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to its huge pool of international athletes that endorse the product. This includes British Olympic Champion Mo Farah, England and Liverpool footballer Trent Alexander-Arnold, American Grand Slam Champion Maria Sharapova and NBA superstar, Paul George. Apart from this, the parent company even has tie-ups as the official recovery partner of football teams, Manchester City, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain; and F1 team, Red Bull Racing.

Sports aside, the Theragun is designed for any adult to safely pick up and use, and it has a host of claimed benefits from muscle recovery, to an increased range of motion, and even better sleep. But is the Theragun worth its premium price point, or should you just buy a cheaper massage gun that you can get for less than half its price on Amazon instead?

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Theragun review: What do you get for your money?

There are four Theragun units in the range, but the one I’ve reviewed is the Theragun Elite. This costs £375 and is in the Goldilocks zone when it comes to price and features. In the box is the Theragun itself, a selection of attachments and a mains charger, plus a sleek carry case to store everything in. The Theragun Elite is available in a choice of three colours: black, white and red.


Where the majority of massage guns come with a simple, pistol-grip design where the massage head protrudes like a bulbous bullet from the gun’s "barrel", Theragun massagers have a large triangular handle, with the barrel attached at an angle to one corner. The idea is that you can use this ergonomic handle in four different ways to reach awkward-to-reach places like your shoulders and back.

The device itself is relatively light (it weighs less than 1kg), which also helps and, since it’s rechargeable, you don’t need to mess about with cables. Battery life is around two hours, which is more than enough juice for several sessions.

The Theragun Elite comes with five easy-to-clean foam attachments: Dampener, Standard Ball, Wedge, Thumb and Cone that are each best suited to treating a specific part of your body. The Dampener comes attached to the device by default and it's super-soft, so you can safely use it practically anywhere on your body - even on tender areas like your arms.

The massage gun has five different speed settings ranging from 1750 to 2400 PPM (Percussions Per Minute) - this indicates the number of times the device pulses - so you should be able to find a speed setting and attachment to suit any muscle area you want to treat.

Its other big feature is Bluetooth connectivity, which allows you to connect the Theragun to the free Therabody app on your smartphone. By doing this, you can run a range of preset routines and see if you’re applying the correct amount of pressure while using the gun.

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Theragun review: How many different Theraguns are there?

There are four devices in the latest Theragun range: the Theragun Mini, Theragun Prime, Theragun Elite and Theragun Pro.

Theragun Mini: At £175, the Theragun Mini is the entry-level device. It’s also the most compact (5.4in x 4.3in x 1.6in) and, therefore, the easiest to take with you on your travels. Available in three colours (white, red and black), it pulses with a maximum force of 20lb and an "amplitude" of 12mm. Amplitude is, essentially, the distance the massage head moves up and down. It also has three different speed settings and comes with one Standard Ball attachment.


Theragun Prime: The Theragun Prime is a fairly significant upgrade over the Theragun Mini. It costs £275, has an LED display, and applies its pulses with a maximum force of 30lb and an amplitude of 16mm. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, so you can take advantage of guided presets using the Theragun app. While the app doesn’t have a force-meter like the Elite and Pro models, the device provides real-time force-feedback. In the box are four attachments (Dampener, Standard Ball, Thumb and Cone).

Theragun Elite: This is the model that I was sent for testing. It applies its pulses with a maximum force of 40lbs and an amplitude of 16mm, and it comes with five different attachments and five adjustable speed settings. It has an OLED display and can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth for guided massage sessions, with a force-meter telling you how much pressure to apply.

Theragun Pro: This model is designed for professional use – in other words, the model that pro athletes and sports teams will use. It’s the most expensive at £550 and has a number of features the other Theragun models lack. One of its standout features is that you can rotate its head (the part where the attachment sits) in four different directions to make it easier to access out-of-the-way muscles.

The Theragun Pro comes with two removable batteries - each capable of lasting 2.5 hours on a single charge - and can apply the strongest force of the four at up to 60lb of pressure. It also comes with six attachments, including a SuperSoft attachment that you don't get by default with any of the other units.

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Theragun review: How does it compare with other massage guns?

As we mentioned before, the Theragun is considered to be the gold standard of massage guns in the same way that the GoPro is the gold standard of action cameras. The main reason for this is because the company claims that it’s able to "reach 60% deeper into the muscle than average massage guns".

We can’t verify Theragun’s claim but its quoted 16mm amplitude is better than cheaper rivals massage guns, including the top-rated TaoTronic Deep Professional Massage Gun, which has a quoted amplitude of just 12mm. That said, TaoTronic’s offering costs only £110 and it does have some great features, including ten adjustable speed settings that range from 1400 to 3200 PPM, six attachments and a claimed ten-hour battery life.


Similarly, if you're looking for a slightly cheaper alternative, the Renpho Powerful Massage Gun costs a fraction under £100, but it only has an amplitude of 9mm, meaning it won't penetrate as deep as the Theragun or TaoTronic's offerings. This massage gun has five speed settings from 1800 to 3200 PPM, comes with five massage head attachments, and it has a battery life of six hours on a full charge.

Apart from amplitude, the Theragun differentiates itself from the "massage gun" competition in two main ways. The first is its triangular handle, which offers a more ergonomic grip, allowing you to more easily massage parts of your body that might otherwise be difficult to reach.

The second standout feature of the Theragun devices (except the Mini) is Bluetooth connectivity. The only other massage gun I know of that offers similar app connectivity feature is the latest version of the Hyperice Hypervolt. However, both the Hyperice Bluetooth and the Hyperice Bluetooth Plus seem to be in short supply in the UK at the moment.

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Theragun review: What’s it like to use it?

At first, I was taken aback by the speed and sound of the Theragun Elite. Even at the lowest speed (1750 PPM), it’s still as loud as an electric toothbrush despite being the quietest device in the range and it gets slightly louder the further up the speed-scale you go.

I recommend trying it at the lowest speed first because the device does take some getting used to. When using it on my trapezius muscles (the muscles at the centre of the upper back that extend up the neck and across the tops of your shoulders), for example, I could feel my skull ringing inside my head. Surprisingly, though, the overall sensation was quite pleasant and the device felt easy to manipulate and direct, regardless of how I gripped the Theragun and what speed I used it at.


It does tend to bounce around when you use it on bony areas like your shins, but that only means you need to hold it tighter when treating those parts. I used it to treat my aching back after sitting for hours on an uncomfortable chair and the device provided instant pain relief after using it for just 30 seconds. It’s something that I could only have accomplished otherwise by spending five minutes contorting myself on a foam roller at the gym.

It’s hard to objectively quantify many of the device’s other supposed benefits, however. For example, I can't say for certain whether the app’s Sleep routine actually had a noticeable impact on my sleep, although it did put me in a very relaxed state before going to bed. Likewise, the app's Work From Home routine can quickly ease the tension in your back and shoulder muscles, especially if your home working setup is less than ideal.

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Theragun review: How does the Therabody app work?

The free Therabody app (available on Android and iOS) unlocks the device’s full gamut of features. After you create an account and pair the Theragun to your smartphone using Bluetooth, you’ll be greeted by different sections that have relevant routines within them.

Apart from sections for hardcore fitness addicts (like Workout Recovery and Studio Warm-Up), I was glad to see sections on Wellness, Ailments and Lifestyle with relevant routines. Selecting a routine tells you the total routine time, which body areas it’ll cover, and which attachment you need to use.

The Sleep routine within the Wellness section, for example, is 12 minutes long and covers the whole body using the Dampener attachment. It’s a perfect way to relax your muscles before winding down for bed.


Another useful tool is the Therabody YouTube channel that contains a series of video clips telling you how to treat specific conditions and ailments using your Theragun. Demonstrations are done by Theragun founder Dr Jason himself and they’re often around two minutes with easy-to-follow instructions.

I actually stumbled upon the videos after searching for the term “How to treat bursitis using Theragun”. Similarly, there are over 30 other videos telling you how to treat a range of conditions, including lower back pain, shin splints, tech neck, golf and tennis elbow and carpal tunnel. It’s small features like these that make the Theragun stand out among the crowded massage gun space.

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Theragun review: Should you buy it?

The Theragun claims to offer a range of benefits from faster warmup and recovery - to improving your posture, range of motion, sleep and stretching ability. These are all features that can be achieved through other means – by stretching well after your workout, getting a sports massage or using a foam roller, for instance - so it isn’t by any means an essential piece of equipment.


What it can do, in my experience, is help you attain results that would have otherwise taken much longer to achieve. It’s easy to see why that might appeal to pro athletes and sports teams pushed for time and looking for even the slightest edge over the competition.

It’s also easy to see why you might want to try one out if you’re a keen runner, cyclist, gym-visitor or swimmer with an intensive training schedule that often leaves you with sore muscles. The good news is that, if you’re even the slightest bit curious, Theragun offers a 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee. For a device this well made, and easy to use, it’s definitely worth a shot.

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