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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?
- 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.
- Lifepro DynaSphere – For those on a budget who still want something powerful.
- Minirex – a small portable solution to fatigue and muscle pain.
- Hypervolt Plus 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 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.
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.
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 as well (as compared to its predecessor, B37). Achedaway Pro is the most powerful one (feels like Theragun Pro). Minirex has the least power, but that’s a mini gun.
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 2021, we wouldn’t recommend anything below 12mm. Even if you just want something to warm up the muscles, 12mm is the right place to settle with.
This is because with a 12mm amplitude massage gun, you can easily cover both intense deep massage (with a lot of stall force of course) and a soothing surface-level 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 15-16mm amplitude.
But also look out for stall force. It’s no use going for 15-16mm amplitude but very low stall force. Sometimes the difference between a 12-13mm amplitude massage gun with more stall force and a device with 15-16mm amplitude is the intensity. The former tend to rev faster. While it’s advisable to go for low 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 (12mm in our case) but with more than enough stall force can be pressed hard against the body to achieve a deep tissue massage. The same cannot be said of a hard-punching device but with very low stall force.
Massage Guns for Athletes – Stroke Length Comparison
Conclusion Ekrin B37s is the only gun on our list with 12mm, so 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 not less than 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 12mm as discussed above. Anything less than that is a vibrational tool.
That said, most full-sized devices in 2021 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, don’t go for a device that promises 3600 or even 3800 hits per minute but only has a 9mm amplitude. As we’ve said, such devices are meant to offer vibrational therapy – surface-level massage – and not deep to the bone massage.
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.
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 and Hypervolt Plus 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.
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.
TIP Find out more in our complete Ekrin B37S review →
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 70lbs. 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.
TIP Find out more in our full Achedaway PRO review →
Urikar AT1 – For High Amplitude and Intensity
We recently got our hands on this latest Urikar massage gun, tested it and reviewed it. It’s a unique-looking massage gun but also pretty strong. Urikar got especially innovative with and introduced some new features to the massage gun world.
However, we noted in our review that it doesn’t have a high stall force as Urikar claims. What it has though is plenty of percussions. It’s able to deliver up to 3600 hits per minute even though it has a 16mm amplitude.
That means, with this gun you are not only getting deeper punches, you are also getting plenty of them. No other gun in our list revs as fast as this one.
Given the nature of its build, it’s significantly heavy – 2.8lbs, similar to Theragun Pro. It has many innovative features such as massage gun head recognition, proximity sensor (slows down the intensity when not massaging), and body map display based on the massage gun head attached.
It’s reasonably quiet given the size and the high intensity. It promises up to 10 hours on battery. 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 lifetime, but comes at a great price.
It normally retails for $269.99 but with the URIKAR200 code you can get it for $215.99 – that’s 20% off.
TIP Here is our review of Urikar AT1 →
Lifepro DynaSphere – 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 nice design – round and original. The round shape adds leverage when the gun is pressed against the body.
In terms of power, it has 66lbs. of advertised stall force. Given the compact body of this gun (3.5”L x 5.3”W x 10”H), this is awesome power. It has a 13mm amplitude, which is above our recommended threshold. The amplitude and stall force combination here means serious performance – this device punches hard.
It has a percussion range of 1200-2800rpm and 6 speed gears to go with it. We especially love that you can start as low as 1200 rpm – not many guns start that low. This can be quite helpful when you want a slow warm-up massage.
It’s a light device – weighing just 2.1lbs. It’s quiet enough – 50dB to mid-60dB. It comes with 5 nicely varied attachments. It has no pressure sensor or even dynamic modes. It does, however, come with a USB output that can act as a backup phone charger. It has a 2000mAh capacity battery that can last for 3.5-7 hours depending on how you use the gun. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.
The price was recently reduced to $119.99 but with the MGA10 coupon (10% off), you can get it for $107.99.
TIP For more details, refer to our hands-on Lifepro DynaSphere Review →
Minirex – 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.
It has many surprising features for a mini massage gun. It’s almost the same size (perhaps slightly smaller) as Hypervolt Go but has more power. It may be larger than some other mini massage guns but it has more punch than any of those guns can hope to deliver.
Rexogun lists the stall force as 22lbs. but when we reviewed it, we noticed that it had perhaps more power – one of the rare cases when the stall force is more than what’s advertised. We would say the Minirex has slightly over 30 lbs. of stall force.
Another thing we noticed is that the stall force feels rather constant across all 4 speeds. It has a 10mm amplitude – perfect for a mini massage gun. It has a percussion range of 1800-3000rpm across 4 speed gears.
It’s a very light massage gun – weighs just 1.3lbs. Although it doesn’t 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.
It 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 a USB charger.
It normally costs $279 but with this link you can get it for $179 – that’s $100 off!
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.
Both companies have awesome products worth buying – but you have to have a pretty decent budget. 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 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 some of our best picks like Achedaway Pro and Urikar AT1. 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 Urikar AT1 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 $55 (use MGA25 coupon).
- It doesn’t have a lifetime warranty. Just the 1 year, even though you are paying top dollar for it.
Hyperice – Hypervolt Plus
It’s a no-brainer that an athlete should go for Hypervolt Plus instead of the regular Hypervolt. Hypervolt Plus competes well with the Theraguns and as we discussed in our Hypervolt vs Theragun comparison, Hypervolt Plus is actually more powerful than Theragun Elite and also cheaper.
That’s because it has 45-50 lbs. of stall force (we had to figure that out ourselves because Hyperice doesn’t disclose that information), which is better than Elite’s 40lbs. It’s still not as powerful as Ekrin B37S, but it’s better than Elite.
It has a 14-15mm amplitude (again we had to figure this out for ourselves), which is the right range – sits over Ekrin B37S and just behind Theraguns, Achedaway Pro and Urikar AT1.
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 Urikar AT1 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 heavy (3lbs) – heavier than any of the guns discussed in this article. 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. It has spare batteries though – but still annoying if you have to keep charging them every time.
- 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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