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Knee pain is a very common problem that can affect your daily life. When you have knee pain, normal activities like running or squatting can be very uncomfortable or seem impossible to do. Using a massage gun for knee pain is a popular approach, but does it work?
The short answer is yes, but understanding the details of when and why to use a massage gun for knee pain can have a major impact on your success.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes of knee pain, the best way to use your massage gun for knee pain, and some of our top recommendations for massage gun devices.
- What Are The Causes of Knee Pain?
- Will A Massage Gun Help Knee Pain?
- How to Use A Massage Gun for Knee Pain
- Best Massage Gun for Knee Pain – Our Top Choices
- Theragun for Knee Pain
- Closing Comments
Trust Us, We’re Experts
Massage guns are relatively new on the health and wellness scene, and research is still being done to prove many of the benefits and common uses for massage guns.
However, the MassageGunAdvice team is made up of massage gun experts with lots of experience in the field, and we’re always reviewing the most up-to-date massage gun information to inform our articles.
This post is written by a licensed physiotherapist, Dr. Alex Stone, DPT. This article has not been reviewed by a medical doctor. We recommend consulting your medical doctor before starting a new exercise or self-care routine.
What Are The Causes of Knee Pain?
Knee pain can be caused by many different conditions, but there are a few conditions that stand out among the others.
Many of us have heard of Osteoarthritis (OA), which is pain and stiffness at a joint due to wear and tear of cartilage that lines bones within a joint 1. Another form of arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and joint damage similar to OA 2.
Both OA and RA cause knee pain by breaking down cartilage in the knee joint, which increases compressive forces between bones and causes pain or damage. This is especially true during activities like squatting or going down stairs where the knee joint is bending under body weight, which can be especially irritating.
Related Find out more about best massage gun for arthritis.
Tendinitis and Bursitis
The word tendinitis describes pain and inflammation of a muscle tendon, while the word bursitis describes pain and inflammation of fluid-filled sacs called bursae. Both tendinitis and bursitis are especially common among runners and athletes because of repetitive stress on joints and muscles in most sports.
Two of the most common knee tendons affected by tendinitis are the patellar tendon (on the front of your knee) and the hamstring tendons (on the back of your knee). The most common site of bursitis in the knee is the prepatellar bursa, which sits underneath your kneecap 3.
Both tendinitis and bursitis can seriously limit your ability to run, squat, and perform other activities in your daily life.
Knee pain can also be the result of more serious injuries such as ligament sprains, muscle tears, or fractures.
The most commonly injured ligaments in the knee are the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), however injuries to the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) can also happen during a sports or a sudden accident.
Ligament injuries typically don’t heal well because of poor blood supply, and must be taken care of properly to avoid long-term knee problems.
Muscle tears in the knee occur when a muscle is suddenly overstretched, such as during a heavy squat or explosive kick. When this happens the muscle fibers become torn, making the muscle feel painful and weak.
In the case of a full muscle rupture, the muscle is no longer able to generate motion. Muscle tears typically heal with the right treatment, but full ruptures usually require surgery for full recovery.
When a bone cracks or breaks, it is called a fracture. Fractures in the knee can happen to the thigh bone (femur), leg bones (tibia and fibula), or kneecap (patella).
A few of the most common types of fractures in the knee are stress fractures and avulsion fractures. Stress fractures occur due to repetitive overuse or strain on the knee, while avulsion fractures occur when a muscle tendon pulls a piece of bone away from the knee 4,5.
Your knee can handle a lot of activity, but it also needs rest. Exercising, running and jumping often without proper recovery can lead to overuse injuries in your knee.
There are many types of overuse injuries, and most of them fall into the categories mentioned above. For example, a runner who never takes rest days might experience patellar tendinitis, a MCL sprain, stress fractures, or even early onset osteoarthritis.
It’s important to recognize overuse injuries separately from other types of knee injuries because they happen by overtraining and can usually be prevented with the right training program.
Will A Massage Gun Help Knee Pain?
Massage guns are a newer technology, which means there isn’t a lot of research on the true benefits of massage guns.
However, there is research that shows similar effects to traditional massage for muscle recovery when a massage gun is used properly 6.
When it comes to knee pain, massage can be helpful because it relieves tension in the muscles around the knee, improves circulation at the knee joint, and decreases pain. All of these factors combine to allow for more mobility at the knee and better performance.
The benefits from using your massage gun are generally temporary, so you’ll need to use it regularly to keep getting the positive effects. Even though effects are temporary, regular massage gun use can mean better tolerance for exercise and rehabilitation for your knee, which will help you reach your goals faster.
How to Use A Massage Gun for Knee Pain
When trying out your massage gun for knee pain, it’s important to focus on a few key factors to get the best results possible:
First, aim to use your massage gun for 1-2 minutes on each major muscle group that you’re working on. Examples of muscle groups around your knee include your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf.
Second, try to relax the muscle groups that you’re using your massage gun on. Depending on the position that you’re in, you might need to use extra pillows to help support your leg in the best position.
Next, use enough pressure between the massage head and your muscle to cause mild discomfort, but not pain. If you feel pain, burning or numbness, stop immediately.
Finally, never direct your massage gun head over bone or nerves, as these structures are sensitive and could be damaged. If you’re unsure about how to use your device safely, talk to your doctor first.
For the larger muscle groups surrounding the knee, consider using a flat or ball attachment to get best results. If your knee or the surrounding muscles are more sensitive, try a cushioned or padded attachment to prevent pain.
One treatment for knee pain that compliments massage gun use is physical therapy, which focuses on exercise and lifestyle changes to help support your recovery and performance goals.
Your physical therapist may also use percussion massage therapy (a massage gun) during your sessions to get better results.
Some other common treatments for knee pain include heat or ice, stretching, and an exercise program that fits your specific needs.
Here’s a quick summary so far based on frequently asked questions:
Is a massage gun effective for knee pain relief?
Yes, a massage gun can be highly effective for knee pain relief. While your massage gun will not “fix” your knee pain, it will help the muscles around your knee relax while making you better able to do activities that will help your knee recover.
How often can I use a massage gun on my knee?
We recommend using your massage gun once per day, however, make sure to assess your body’s response before your next use. During each session, aim for 1-2 minutes for each muscle group.
Is it safe to use a massage gun on the knee?
Generally speaking, it’s very safe to use a massage gun on your knee. However, make sure to follow the rules and avoid using your massage gun directly over bone or sensitive nerves. If you feel pain, stop immediately.
Best Massage Gun for Knee Pain – Our Top Choices
One of the most important considerations for managing knee pain is choosing the right device. You’ll want something powerful enough to get the job done right, but versatile enough to use on other body areas as needed.
But how do you make sure that you’re choosing the best knee pain massage gun?
Ekrin B37 – Our Top Recommendation
We vited the Ekrin B37 the best value massage gun for good reason, and the first is amplitude.
Amplitude is the amount of distance traveled by the massage gun head during each hit – guns with low amplitude feel more “vibrational” while guns with higher amplitude feel more “punchy”.
The B37 falls right in the sweet spot for amplitude, not too vibrational and not too punchy, making it a great knee pain massage gun.
Another reason we think this is the best massage gun for knee pain is versatility.
The B37 has enough stall force to effectively work on the larger muscle groups of your legs, but isn’t so powerful that you can’t use it on other areas of your body. Even better, it won’t slow down under pressure like many of its competitors.
Speed matters too, and this device can move between 1400 and 3200 RPM – faster than most and especially impressive given the stall force of the B37, allowing you to pick between a more aggressive or cautious massage.
Off-the-shelf, the B37 comes with several attachments to use on different body areas, which is important if you have more sensitive or hard to reach areas you want to work on.
This device is built with quality in mind and comes with a lifetime warranty from Ekrin.
Ekrin B37 normally costs $229 but with MGA20 coupon you can get it here for $183.99 which is 20% less.
Read More Our full Ekrin B37 review.
Bob and Brad D6 Pro – High Amplitude Choice
This device is the latest offering from the famous YouTube PT duo, and it’s a great option for managing knee pain. In fact, we think the design and specs of the D6 make it a great knee pain massage gun alternative to the industry-leading Theragun PRO, which we can’t say for many other devices.
Similar to the Theragun PRO, the Bob and Brad D6 is a high-amplitude (16mm) option that can deliver high stall force while revving at 2500 RPM. It also comes with a great set of attachments that includes soft and semi-soft options to address your knee pain.
One caveat to this device is size – it’s a bigger gun and weighs 2.8 lbs (versus Ekrin at 2.2 lbs). Despite its size the D6 does have comfortable ergonomics, however, we think this is where the Ekrin B37 proves to be a more versatile option overall.
If you’re interested in purchasing the Bob and Brad D6 Pro gun on Amazon, be sure to apply the MGAD6PRO code at checkout to receive an extra 10% OFF your order. Additionally, you may be able to take advantage of a $50 Amazon coupon, which was available during our last check.
Read More Our in-depth Bob and Brad D6 Pro review.
Opove M3 Pro – A Budget Pick
This device from Opove is an excellent budget option for those who can’t afford high-end devices such as the Ekrin B37 or Bob and Brad D6. Despite its low price tag, it’s still a decent percussion massager for knee pain.
The M3 Pro 2 offers 12mm of amplitude, which falls right in the sweet spot, and comes out swinging with 40 lbs of stall force – not as much as Ekrin or Bob and Brad, but still pretty good.
This device revs at 2600 RPM (we measured), which is on-par with the D6 but much slower than the B37. However, this does offer the user a slightly quieter experience.
This gun uses a T-shape design, which isn’t the best for ergonomics. However, since it’s a light device with a firm rubber handle it still holds well in the hand.
You can purchase the new Opove M3 Pro for just $119.99 at opove.com, which we suspect is an introductory price since it was only released a few months ago. Don’t miss out on this deal and order yours today!
Read More Check our dedicated Opove M3 Pro review.
That wraps up our top picks for the best massage gun for knee pain – But what about Theragun?
Theragun for Knee Pain
You’ve probably heard of Theragun since they are considered the pioneers of percussive massage therapy, but should you consider getting a Theragun for knee pain? We think absolutely, yes!
Theragun makes premium devices that are well-suited for just about any job, especially knee pain.
The Theragun family include:
It’s important to keep in mind that Theragun devices are punchy, with most devices offering 16mm of amplitude. Because of their high amplitude, they don’t rev as quickly as some other options.
For example, Theragun speed tops out at 2450 RPM versus the Ekrin B37 at 3200 RPM. Theragun devices are historically very loud, but they have improved recently with new releases like the Theragun Pro 5G and Theragun mini 2.0, which are much quieter than previous models.
Another important consideration is warranty. Most Theragun devices come with a so-so warranty (1 year for the mini, Prime and Elite – 2 years for PRO), but keep in mind that some competitors like Ekrin offer a lifetime warranty.
Theragun still has a lot to offer though, and those who splurge on their full-sized models will get a great selection of attachments. This includes basic designs like a ball and flathead, but Theragun also makes specialized attachments like the wedge and thumb to address areas of the body with different curvature.
Extra attachments can be bought separately through their online store, including the SuperSoft attachment which is specially designed for massaging sensitive body areas – another reason Theragun understands how to make a great percussion massager for knee pain.
Using Theragun Pro for Knee Pain Massage
All full-sized Theragun models are built with a triangular handle that makes them very ergonomic. We think this is one of the best designs for getting to difficult body regions, like your back.
In 2023, all Theragun devices can connect to your phone via Bluetooth to be controlled through the Therabody app for targeted massage treatment.
Aside from that, Theragun devices are similar to many other options on the market today.
But Which Is The Best Theragun for Knee Pain?
In our opinion, most Theragun devices will do a great job at helping you manage your knee pain. That said, the biggest difference between each model is stall force, ranging from 20 lbs (the mini) to 60 lbs (the PRO).
|Number of Attachments
|Pro at therabody.com
|Elite at therabody.com
|Prime at therabody.com
|Mini at therabody.com
*discount code valid only for one product in a cart.
If money is a factor, for the full-size massager, the lower-end Theragun Prime should be an effective option for most. However with better attachments, way more stall force, and step-by-step instructions on an LED screen, the Theragun PRO G5 is one of the most versatile devices on the market today.
You really can’t go wrong, and even the new Theragun mini is a great option for knee pain now. The new and improved mini is smaller, comes with 3 attachments, and even offers Bluetooth connectivity while still being the cheapest of all Theragun devices.
So, do we recommend Theragun for knee pain? The short answer is yes, but it really comes down to your budget.
Knee pain can be difficult to live with, but having the right tools and strategies can make a big difference. We hope this answers all of your questions about using a massage gun for knee pain and gives you some ideas for what massage guns are best for the job.
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- 2.Wasserman A. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(11):1245-1252. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150658
- 3.Rishor-Olney C, Pozun A. statpearls. Published online September 6, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557508/
- 4.Drabicki RR, Greer WJ, DeMeo PJ. Stress Fractures Around the Knee. Clinics in Sports Medicine. Published online January 2006:105-115. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2005.08.002
- 5.McCoy J, Nelson R. statpearls. Published online August 8, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559168/
- 6.Bervoets DC, Luijsterburg PA, Alessie JJ, Buijs MJ, Verhagen AP. Massage therapy has short-term benefits for people with common musculoskeletal disorders compared to no treatment: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy. Published online July 2015:106-116. doi:10.1016/j.jphys.2015.05.018
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Post Update History
Here's a quick rundown of all the tweaks and edits we've made to this article to keep it accurate and up-to-date!
September 16, 2023 Minor content update for better readability and experience. (Author: Greg)
Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS
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