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Massage guns have become synonymous with athletes. In the age where most sportsmen and women work so hard to make it to the top, recovery has become a top priority.
Massage guns have taken the sports world by storm especially in the last few years. Even though the sports recovery tools market keeps evolving, with new tools being invented every time, there is no doubt that massage guns are having their say thus far.
Today we’ll look at the best massage gun for athletes. What is the top athletes massage gun? What stands out in a percussion massager for athletes?
In This Article hide
- What Athletes Should Look For in a Massage Gun
- Best Massage Gun for Athletes – Our Picks
- What about Theragun and Hypervolt? – Two Percussive Industry Giants
- Best Massage Gun for Athletes – Bottom Line
But it hasn’t always been massage guns when it comes to recovery. Foam rollers were here before and are still here among other devices and machines.
But using massage guns feels way better (and easier) than having to roll on a foam roller. They are also more effective than foam rollers, e.g. allow pin-pointed treatment of trigger points.
But it’s not always easy to pick the best massage gun given the hundreds already flooding the market – both from premium brands and no-name ones. Choosing the best from the hoards can be tough.
That’s where we come in, we will tell you all you need to know. Just follow along!
In a hurry?
If you are looking to just get your massage gun and can’t read through the entire post, here are some suggestions worth looking at before you go your way;
- Ekrin B37S – It’s the best overall, has been for a while. It screams quality and versatility. It’s followed closely by Achedaway Pro – a strong and powerful percussion massager.
- Bantam – a small portable solution to fatigue and muscle pain.
- Hypervolt 2 Pro or Theragun Pro – if you have the budget for a premium brand.
What Athletes Should Look For in a Massage Gun
When you are trying to find the best massage gun for athletes, there is only one question to ask yourself: What do you need it for?
Generally an athlete will need a massage gun for one of these two reasons:
- Recovery. This is post-workout treatment where deep tissue massage matters the most, and
- Warm-up. This is where you need an intensive but surface-level massage to wake up and warm up the muscles before you begin your workout.
With these reasons in mind, you can then go ahead to look for a massage gun that suits your needs.
TIP Are you a runner athlete? If so, check out our post about best massage guns for runners.
These are some of the things to look out for in a massage gun to help with your intended needs.
This is the amount of pressure it takes to stall the motor of a massage gun. It applies when you press the massage gun head against your body. Every device has a certain amount of pressure that it can withstand.
With athletes, stall force plays an important role in whichever massage gun they choose to go with. Most well-trained athletes tend to have denser muscles and low body fat. This means that the muscles, even though well developed, are easy to massage.
However, such athletes will still need a device strong enough to break through large muscle groups like hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
But athletes with bigger physiques like basketball players, bodybuilders and weightlifters have way larger muscles in most parts of their bodies. These athletes will need a device with a lot of power to withhold the pressure against the body.
There are massage guns that can serve these two groups of athletes. That said however, we advise going for a massage gun that not only has a good amplitude (at least 10-12mm) but one that has at least 40-45lbs. of stall force.
For the bigger guys, go for 50-60lbs. of stall force. Obviously this kind of power is only available with full-sized massage guns (and here are the strongest ones we’ve tested). Mini massage guns have less power, and shorter stronger length as well.
We suggest that you don’t go for cheap massage guns that cannot offer anything beyond 30lbs. of stall force. Many massage guns that cost $100 or below simply have no power to deliver deep tissue massage. Their motors often slow down percussions a lot, or even stall completely when some more pressure gets exerted.
Athletes Massage Gun – Stall Force Comparison
Conclusion When it comes to stall force, it’s worth to keep in mind that brands list a maximum possible stall force, and such is typically available only on the top gear. Here, Ekrin B37s shines, as it has 30% more power on lower gears. Achedaway Pro and Theragun Pro are the most powerful on top speed. Tiny Bantam has the least power, but is still surprisingly powerful for a mini device.
Amplitude is the massage gun head travel distance when the device is revving. It’s measured in millimeters.
For athletes, this is an important massage gun aspect. In 2022, we wouldn’t recommend anything below 10-12mm. Even if you just want something to warm up the muscles, the medium amplitude is the right place to settle with.
This is because with a medium amplitude massage gun, you can easily cover both intense deep massage (with a lot of stall force of course) and a soothing surface-level but high-revving massage.
Again here it’s important to note that the higher the amplitude the stronger the punch you can get. So, if you are heavily built, with large muscles, we suggest opting for a massage gun with 14-16mm amplitude.
But also look out for stall force. It’s no use going for 14-16mm amplitude but very low stall force. Usually, the difference between a 10-12mm amplitude massage gun with more stall force and a device with 14-16mm amplitude is the intensity. The former tend to rev faster – keep it in mind. This is why a high-amplitude Theragun Pro revs up to only about 2400 rpms, while 12mm Ekrin goes up to 3200.
While it’s advisable to go for lower amplitude, it’s not wise to choose a device with low stall force even if that device has the longest amplitude available.
A device with low amplitude but with more than enough stall force can be pressed hard against the body to be effective even on those larger muscle groups (the motor will keep revving with high intensity when pressed). The same cannot be said of a hard-punching device but with very low stall force.
Massage Guns for Athletes – Stroke Length Comparison
Conclusion Our top pick Ekrin B37s’ amplitude is within a sweet spot of 10 to 13mm. It can do gentle/soothing massage but can also be pressed aggressively against the skin without stalling the motor. Those 14-16mm guns will provide heavy-hitting punches, so a bit different characteristics. For mini guns, we recommend stroke length of not less than 9-10mm.
What about Percussions?
Percussions are easy. Here different brands experiment with different things. Sometimes high amplitude means low intensity (low percussion range). But that can also be tricky if you don’t know massage guns that well.
That is because vibrational massage guns also tend to rev faster at top speed. Again what we’d advise here is to check that the amplitude is at least 10-12mm as discussed above. Anything less than that is a vibrational tool, usually without any reasonable stall force.
That said, most full-sized devices in 2022 tend to rev with over 3000 hits per minute at top speed. There are few instances where some devices don’t go over the 2500 hits per minute mark. Such devices aren’t bad, it just means that they have high amplitudes.
Again just to reiterate, devices that promises 3600 or even 3800 hits per minute but only have a few mm amplitude are meant to offer vibrational therapy.
Vibrational therapy can be effective, but usually require super-faster vibrations (like a Rapid Release Therapy device, which revvs up to 10,000 rpm – very effective device). For a percussion massager, however, even a high 3800 rpms isn’t often enough when the amplitude is low.
Programs and Speeds
Go for a device that has 4-5 speeds.
There are devices that promise 20 to 30 speed gears. These only tend to complicate the operation of the percussion massager.
The highest number of speed gears acceptable shouldn’t be more than 8, and that’s when the intensity of the massage gun is quite high and the percussions are reasonably spaced.
Look out also for massage guns with pre-programmed massage modes (where the intensity changes automatically or with more pressure applied).
There are massage guns that have a pressure sensor fitted in. These have become popular with many advanced devices.
The sensor helps you to keep tabs with your massage (maintain consistency). However, it’s sometimes just a fancy addition and not a must-have feature, especially when you already know how to use a massage gun.
Devices with pressure sensor include Ekrin B37S (well executed one), Hypervolt 2 Pro or Theragun Elite and/or Prime.
Other Factors you need to look out for
- Build quality – The device should be well put together with high quality materials used.
- Weight – the lighter the device the easier it is to handle during a massage. Ideally go for 2.2lbs or 2.5lbs. Devices like Theragun Pro, or early Hypervolts, weigh more.
- Size – Cheap guns tend to be bulky. We prefer more compact devices. In our list we also chose to include one mini massage gun for those who run while on their travels.
- Ergonomics – We love brands that try to be innovative here. Any attempts to make ergonomics attractive is welcome here.
- Accessories – We look for the number of attachments included (5-6 is enough to massage the whole body) and if a travel case/pouch is included.
- Noise – We shortlisted devices with a maximum 65dB in noise level (on top speed). You can easily have a conversation during a massage.
- Brand trustworthiness – We suggested devices from brands you can rely on.
- Battery – We looked for devices with enough battery capacity and ones that offer more time on battery. However, most guns today can go for 1-2 weeks on a single charge. Bigger batteries means heavier guns.
- Warranty offered – Most cheap massage guns offer no warranties or offer just a 1-year warranty. Best brands offer more or sometimes lifetime warranties.
- Price/ Value for money – Go for a product that offers more for less.
Best Massage Gun for Athletes – Our Picks
Here’s what we believe are some of the best massage guns for athletes.
Ekrin B37S – Best Overall
Ekrin’s latest device and by far the most powerful. It’s a significant improvement of its predecessor, the Ekrin B37. While the original B37 offered us a lot of power for a relatively new device from a new brand, this new device has even more power.
It has the same 56lbs. of stall force as the B37 but there’s 30% more power on those lower speed gears. This makes it a very versatile massage gun considering that many other massage guns only achieve high stall force on the highest speed gear.
If you have time to go through their consumer feedback page, you’ll realize just how much athletes love this massage gun. Apart from the high stall force, it has a 12mm amplitude – you won’t need more with the high stall force.
It has a 2000-3200 rpm percussion range and 5 speeds to cycle through. The 5th speed has a dynamic mode that allows you to cycle between the highest and lowest speeds.
It comes with 6 nicely varied attachments. The attachments have the easy to use ”push and twist” locking mechanism – much more convenient than a traditional locking mechanism when you need to forcefully push the attachment in (and then pull it out in the same way).
Using the device is also very easy. There are LED lights to indicate speed and battery charge level. It has the typical Ekrin slanted handle that makes for awesome ergonomics.
B37S has a retroactive force meter – the best execution we’ve seen. It’s a light device, weighing just 2.2lbs. It’s reasonably quiet and comes with a Samsung branded battery.
It has a lifetime warranty and lifetime customer support from very enthusiastic Ekrin support folks.
It usually costs $329.99 but with the MGA20 coupon, you can get it for only $263.99. The price is slashed by 20%. Buy it right here.
LEARN MORE Find out more in our hands-on Ekrin B37S review →
Achedaway Pro – High Amplitude, High Performance
Another massage gun that we love recommending to our readers. It’s a different value proposition from our top pick above, but most athletes will appreciate what it has to offer.
For starters, it’s the most powerful gun on our list. Achedaway advertise the stall force as 80lbs. However, we did our tests and found out it’s about 60lbs. or perhaps 65lbs. which is amazingly powerful. Perhaps even more powerful than the mighty Theragun Pro.
To make things even better, it has a 16mm amplitude (the best in the business). The combination of high stall force and high amplitude makes this gun the perfect fit for guys with a lot of muscle mass (think bodybuilders and weightlifters).
It has a percussion range of 1700-2800rpm – not as intense as the Ekrin B37S above but something different given the high amplitude. It doesn’t have a pressure sensor but comes with a detachable battery (you can get it with a spare battery too).
The battery has 3200mAh capacity. However, the time on battery isn’t as impressive as what is on Ekrin B37S – 2-4 hours compared to B37S’s 8 hours. So if you plan to use it extensively, it would be wise to buy it with a spare battery.
It’s a very quiet massage gun – quieter than the B37S. We measured the noise level and got 45dB to just over 60dB. It’s heavier than the B37S – 2.6lbs.
It usually costs $299 but with MGA50 ($50 discount) you can get this device for $249. It is even cheaper than the B37S, and totally worth it.
LEARN MORE Find out more in our complete Achedaway PRO review →
Opove Apex – High Amplitude, Affordable
Opove got especially innovative with ergonomics (it is super easy to use and maneuver) but also introduced some good performance features in this device.
For starters, it is a high amplitude device – 14mm. While this is 2mm less than Achedaway Pro or Theragun, it is the same as the new Hypervolt 2 Pro. Rest assured, it is capable of giving a good punch.
The stall force is also pretty good. It ain’t a 60lbs monster, but it does a reasonable 45, maybe 50lbs. We think it is strong enough, and even demanding athletes should find it sufficient.
It doesn’t come with a pressure sensor, it doesn’t come with other fancy features, but it is a solid percussion massager and likely the best value for the money device when it comes to high amplitude massage guns.
Plus, the weight/balance of this device, and how well it holds in hand is just fantastic.
Any cons? Well, not many.
It doesn’t rev as fast as other devices with the similar amplitud – that could be the only one. It only does 2300 rpm on its top speed (it has three) which is short of Theragun Pro’s 2400, Hypervolt 2 Pro’s 2700 or Achedaway Pro’s 2800. But does it matter? We don’t think so, it does the job pretty well.
Given the nature of its build, it’s reasonably light – 2.27lbs, just a tad heavier than Ekrin B37S. It’s a quiet one too. Perhaps not as quiet as Achedaway Pro but very close.
It promises up to 2-3 weeks on a single charge. Realistically however, you get 5-7 hours depending on usage – still pretty awesome.
It has a 1-year warranty, a bit sad it’s not more, but comes at a great price.
The Opove Apex normally retails for $199 but you can currently get it for just $159 – that’s 21% off. Buy it at Opove.com.
LEARN MORE Refer to our ihands-on Opove Apex review for more details and pictures.
Addsfit Max – For Athletes on a Budget
If you find our top picks expensive so far, here’s one that gives you power and versatility and comes at a great price – almost a steal given what you are getting.
It has a standard T-shape design – perhaps a bit uninspiring in 2022, but nicely rounded and well put together. It also has one of the best attachments we have seen.
Not only they are incredibly soft, almost silky-smooth in touch, but they also introduced a pretty clever mounting system where you install a special adapter just once, and then switch between 5 different tips without every time having to pull out an attachment from the device.
In terms of power, it has 35lbs. of advertised stall force and 10mm amplitude, which is within our recommended threshold. Sure, it is not the most powerful device out there, but given the price, it is actually pretty good.
But while the amplitude and stall force combination here mean decent performance, the perceived intensity/power of this device comes from a super high 3300 rpm maximum percussions (per minute) – the highest revving device on our list. We actually verified that with our laser tachometer and found it accurate.
It has 9 speed gears to go with it which seems too many, but is perhaps justified given the wide percussion range this device comes with (1500 – 3300 rpm).
We love that you can start as low as 1500 rpm – not many guns start that low. This can be quite helpful when you want a slow warm-up massage.
The weight is reasonable – 2.34lbs with the flat attachment mounted. The ergonomics, however, is so-so comparing to devices with slanted handles, such as Ekrin B37S or the Apex.
It has no pressure sensor or dynamic modes. It does, however, come with a decent 2500mAh capacity battery that can last for 3 to 4 hours depending on how you use the gun. The battery is removable, so you could have a spare one and never run out of juice.
What about the noise? The truth is that it’s quiet enough but only at the first few speeds. It gets noticeably louder at the top speed. But hey, it is 3300 percussions per minute, so it can’t be as hushed as, say, Opove or Achedaway. We can live with that.
Another reason why we have picked this device is the warranty. It is not the lifetime warranty, but 3 years isn’t bad. All you have to do is to register the device on Addsfit website (free of charge).
And then, there’s the price. It is the only under-$100 device on our list:
The price was recently reduced to $115.98 but with the MASSAGE25 coupon (25% off), you can get it for $86.97 – the most affordable gun on our list.
LEARN MORE For more information and pictures, read our full Addsfit Max Review →
BANTAM – Best Small / Portable Gun for Athletes
This one’s for athletes who need something compact but powerful, this one will do just fine. It’s a nice travel companion for athletes.
Ekrin lists Bantam’s stall force as 35lbs. We would say the Bantam has slightly over 30 lbs. of stall force, which honestly is an amazing result for device that small. It outperforms many full-size guns while being one of the smallest ones – pretty amazing.
It has close to a 10mm amplitude – perfect for a mini massager. It has a percussion range of 2000-3200rpm across 3 speed gears. Which means that the range is actually the same as in its bigger brother Ekrin B37S.
It’s a very light massage gun – weighs just 1.1lbs. Although it does come with a carrying case, it’s designed to fit in a workout bag. It has 4 attachments that are perfect for all muscle groups.
Bantam has a decent battery that can last for up to a week before you need to charge it again. It also has a USB charger for convenience – the only gun in our list with an USB-C charging port.
It normally costs $149.99 but with the MGA20 you can get it for $119.99 – that’s 20% off! You also get a lifetime warranty! Check it out at ekrinathletics.com.
What about Theragun and Hypervolt? – Two Percussive Industry Giants
This article wouldn’t be complete without talking about Theragun and Hypervolt – two industry giants.
Both brands target athletes with their products and spend insane amounts of money to sign famous names as investors and ambassadors to their side. They are also active sports sponsors.
Theragun on the other hand joined hands with Redbull Racing Formula 1 team. They also sponsor clubs like Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain or Arseal.
They team of athletes and ambassadors include Sir Mo Farah, Paul George, Maria Sharapova, Collin Morikawa and recently added Cristiano Ronaldo, to name a few.
But which ones are worth spending the money on?
Theragun: Pro (strongest) or Elite (Reasonable purchase)
Theragun Pro is the most advanced of all Theraguns. It has a rotating arm and dual batteries. But there’s a chance you will not need any of these.
It also has a great stall force (60lbs.) that is on par with some of our best picks above. But you will have to fork out $599 to get it – too expensive for common folks who just want a massage.
Theragun Elite on the other hand is not only about 30% cheaper than Pro, it’s also powerful enough for a lot of users – unless you have lots of muscles and need a freakishly strong massage gun for the largest of those muscles.
Elite has a 16mm amplitude – the longest one thus far in the industry and same as Achedaway Pro. Elite therefore provides enough punch to treat sore muscles after a workout or game. It has a percussion range of 1750-2400, which is perhaps not as intense as Ekrin B37S or Achedaway Pro, but still decent enough.
Similar to the Pro, Elite has an OLED display and a built-in force meter. It also has Bluetooth connectivity which works excellently with the Therabody app – this is what makes it stand out from all our picks above.
It has 5 built-in speeds including adjustable ones via the app. It has 5 attachments and also comes with a carrying case.
But there are a few cons worth noting:
- It’s probably the loudest gun here. Pro is still the loudest gun we’ve ever encountered (exceeds 70dB) but Elite isn’t very quiet either. It may perhaps be excusable but compared to hushed Achedaway Pro, (the quietest) it’s pretty loud.
- The battery is so-so with 2-3 hours of battery time. It doesn’t feature a detachable battery like the Pro.
- Elite is still pricey – with no discount may be too high for some people. With $300 you can get the Achedaway Pro with a spare battery and still pocket $80 (use the MGA50 coupon).
- It doesn’t have a lifetime warranty. Just the 1 year, even though you are paying top dollar for it.
Hyperice – Hypervolt 2 Pro
It’s a no-brainer that an athlete should go for Hypervolt 2 Pro instead of the regular Hypervolt 2.
Hypervolt 2 Pro competes with the Theraguns but as we discussed in our Hypervolt 2 Pro review, its predecessor, Hypervolt Plus was even stronger. The Plus was actually more powerful than Theragun Elite (and also cheaper). The new Pro 2, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be as strong.
That’s because it has about 30-35 lbs. of stall force (we had to figure that out ourselves because Hyperice doesn’t disclose that information), which is behind Elite’s 40lbs. It’s also far behind Ekrin B37S, not to mention Achedaway Pro.
But It has a 14mm amplitude (again we had to figure this out for ourselves), which is the very right one – sits over Ekrin B37S and just behind Theraguns, Achedaway Pro.
The fact that it has a partnership with the NBA clearly means it’s a top device with a great build. But perhaps a few things disqualify it from topping our list or even appearing on it:
- Unimpressive ergonomics – We prefer Ekrin, Achedaway Pro and Opove Apex because they actually try to be innovative here. Theragun has the best ergonomics in the business – but even they don’t make it on our list.
- It has enough power yes, but so do Theraguns and some of our picks have even more power and intensity.
- It’s heavier than many of the guns discussed in this article – 2.6 lbs. This may not be a problem for bigger athletes, but for female athletes or guys with small hands, it may be uncomfortable to hold for long.
- Battery performance is not so great for a full-size device.
- It comes without a carrying case – the only device on our list without one.
- It has just the 1-year warranty.
Given its price point, apart from the Bluetooth connectivity and the Hyperice app support, the device doesn’t offer anything special that our picks above don’t already have. In fact, those have better performance features and offer the best bang for the buck.
Best Massage Gun for Athletes – Bottom Line
Hopefully you now know what the best massage gun for athletes is. You also know how to pick one when you go shopping.
It suffices to say that there are many options to choose from and we have certainly given you a lot to think about with this post.
Our best pick, Ekrin B37S, stands out with its power and simplicity. But we have also given you plenty of other guns in case you like them.
Theraguns and Hypervolts remain the celebrities of massage guns but keep in mind that they have their shortcomings and come at a costly price.
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