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Elizabeth Falk, PTA, OPTA, NASM-PES

Expert Board Member

  • Education: Saint Louis Community College, Webster University
  • Expertise: Physical Therapy, Performance Enhancement, Fitness

Bio:

Liz lives and works in the Inland Empire of CA. She was a multi-sport athlete in her youth, competing in softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and swimming. Liz swam collegiately at Webster University, where she earned her B.A. degree in Communications. She is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with an A.A.S. degree from St. Louis Community College – Meramec. Liz has advanced training in orthopedic physical therapy through NextGen PT and movement analysis through Movement Links. She is also a certified NASM-Performance Enhancement Specialist. Liz is passionate about providing parents and coaches with the knowledge and resources necessary to create a safe and enjoyable environment for young athletes.

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theragun prime review

Theragun Prime Review – Is Therabody’s Beginner Percussion Massager Worth It?

Welcome to our all-inclusive and hands-on Theragun Prime review! We’ve personally navigated the highs and lows of this renowned device to bring you an unbiased, in-depth analysis.

Get ready to dive into its strengths, uncover its weaknesses, and explore some worthy alternatives (spoiler: yes, there are better alternatives).

Are you ready to see if the Theragun Prime lives up to the hype? Let’s find out together!

holding theragun prime massager
Theragun Prime (4th generation) review by Luke.

Theragun Prime – What To Know

Theragun (currently part of the Therabody’s ecosystem) is where it all began. Their very first percussion massager hit the market way back in 2016.

Now, if you’ve been following the massage guns phenomenon you know that they began to catch fire sometime in 2018. This is when celebrities began endorsing them on social media and then everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

Therabody Massage Gun Brand

However, in our hands-on experience, no massage gun brand has outperformed Theragun. We love Theragun for its innovative design and functionality that we have personally tested.

Theragun Prime is in their fourth generation of Theragun devices. It’s the most affordable of their full-sized guns, going for $299 at Theragun.com, compared to the Elite at $399 and the powerful Pro that costs $599.

Theragun have dubbed it an entry-level massage gun, but we believe it’s a step further than their mini – smallest of the Theraguns.

Is it any good then? Let’s get right to it.


Theragun Prime Review

For the beginning, let’s take a look at the specs. Note that all measurements are verified by us!


Theragun Prime Specs (Verified!)

theragun prime features
FeatureTheragun Prime Specs
Max. Stall Force30 lbs. (our estimation)
Stroke Length16 mm (verified)
Battery Life2 hours (Non-removeable)
Weight2.2 lbs
Size8.9 in x 6.3 in x 2.7 in 
(22.5 cm x 16 cm x 7.3 cm) 
Noise 59-69 dB 16 mm (verified)
Speed options5 speeds, unlimited with Therabody app.
Number of Attachments4
ProsHigh Amplitude
Ergonomics
Bluetooth & Therabody app
Build quality
ConsLow stall force
No case included
Quite Noisy
Warranty1 year
MSRP$299
Where to buyX8YZF10 – 10% off at therabody.com
Theragun Prime specifications measured and verified according to our testing process.

First Impressions

First things first, and what is a massage gun without a carrying case? Perhaps not very courteous. But that’s our opinion, you’ll probably agree with us on this though. If we’re being fair, at that price point, the Prime should probably come in a carrying case.

It is however, in a box, with everything else packed nicely in there. The device itself, the attachments, a soft pouch (not a case, but better than nothing at all we guess), and a dedicated charger. 

theragun prime no carrying case
The whole set includes: the gun, 4 attachments, soft pouch, wall charger and manual.

In our hands, the gun itself is a testament to Theragun’s uniqueness. Even though they advertise it as an entry level massage gun, we appreciate that it stays with a similar shape as its high-end siblings.

It also does have the familiar triangular shape with multiple grip ergonomics. It’s also quite compact as we’ll see in another section.

Upon our initial handling of the device, we noticed that a significant portion of its construction was made from plastic. This gave us a particular feel for its build quality.

We would’ve loved at least a rubberized handle but maybe we’ll have to look elsewhere for now. It’s matte black.

A mix of colors would’ve made things a bit interesting, like what Ekrin did with their B37S with the satin finish. Still color isn’t a big deal here but a premium product should offer a bit of slickness.

That aside, based on our usage, we appreciate that it’s a really well put together percussion massager.


Operation

One aspect that we immediately appreciated was the simplicity of the device’s operation. This made it approachable and user-friendly, even for those new to massage guns.

The power button at the back of the device works by long-pressing it to turn the device on and off.

If you want to cycle between speeds, there are 2 arrows on top and below the power button for this. The one pointing up increases the speed, while the one pointing down decreases the speed.

It doesn’t have the OLED screen like the Elite and Pro. We are guessing that’s why they’re calling it entry-level. It does however, have simple LED indicators for speed and battery level.

theragun prime LED indicators
Theragun Prime’s simple LED indicators (speed and battery level)

In the package, we discovered a pamphlet tucked away in an Apple-style envelope, a personal touch we appreciated. Inside we found the story on Theragun, a letter from the founder (nice touch), instructions page, a quick-start guide, and information on warranty.

theragun prime user manual instruction

Attachments

In our unboxing of the Prime, we were intrigued to discover four distinct attachments. These attachments struck us as unique, and seemed to embody the spirit of the Theragun brand.

Theragun Prime Attachment Heads Set
  • The Dampener: It’s the tender attachment specifically designed to work on tender and bony areas. It’s also perfect for when you want a general massage.
  • The Standard Ball: This one Theragun designed to work on your whole body. It will work better on large muscle groups compared to the dampener.
  • The Thumb: This is a specially designed attachment meant to work the trigger points and the lower back.
  • The Cone: It’s the equivalent of the bullet point that’s found on many non-theragun percussion massagers. It’s used for pinpoint muscle treatment. You can use it on both hands and feet.
therabody theragun prime attachments
Theragun Prime attachments set.

Living up to our expectations for the Theragun brand, the Prime’s attachments were of notable quality. Made from durable rubber rather than the often used foam, we found these attachments to be resistant to rapid wear.

The dampener is the softest of all the attachments. The cone feels a bit hard, but we guess it’s because it’s used for pinpoint muscle massage.

The method of installing the attachments is pretty simple as you’d expect for any massage gun. However, the attachments feel more solid once attached compared to guns from different brands.

We noticed there are two metal ball bearings that click into the attachment. Feels more secure and durable.

theragun prime head attachments socket
A quite unique way to secure attachments.

Perhaps the only concern we have, with regards to the attachments, is that could have been a little more varied. The thumb, ball and dampener feel quite similar and we wouldn’t mind if they replace one of those with a flat head, and another of the two with a spinal/fork head. That would be, in our opinion, a better and more balanced set.


Attachment Accessories

Theragun offers a wide range of additional attachment accessories. Noteworthies are the Supersoft attachment with its foam tip refill and the Duo Adapter, allowing you to mount two attachment heads to your Theragun simultaneously.

Check all the Theragun accessories here


Size, Weight and Ergonomics

Even though the Prime looks almost similar to its two siblings in Elite and Pro, it’s slightly smaller in size. It measures 8.9” x 6.3” x 2.9”.

The size is perfect for what the device does. It doesn’t feel too heavy to wear you out as you use but it also doesn’t feel too light to not do the job properly. 

It weighs in at 2.2lbs. which is the average weight for most full-sized massage guns out there. We are a bit perplexed that it weighs the same as Elite which has extra features built in like the Force Meter, OLED screen and actually looks larger than the Prime.

That said, it feels well balanced and perfectly built. It could be the perfect gift to give to someone.

The ergonomics are good. It has multiple grips, just like its other two counterparts. It doesn’t have a rotating arm like the more advanced Pro but we didn’t feel it was necessary here.


Performance


Stall Force

This is the amount of pressure needed to stop a massage gun’s motor. This happens when the gun is pressed against the body.

The stall force is a great feature for any massage gun because it determines what kind of massage you can have. Most entry level guns do not have a higher stall force because you’ll mostly just need them for a quick soothing massage. 

Theragun Prime is advertised as being an entry level massage gun and only stalls at 30lbs of pressure. Well, it’s not impressive, to say at least. We’d forgive any other device for this but not the mighty Theragun.

After testing this device extensively, we believe that the amazing 16mm amplitude seems a bit of a waste with the low stall force. For that kind of stall force (30-35 lbs), a 12mm amplitude would be just enough. Or, In our opinion, the flipside would’ve been perfect here – i.e. the stall force should’ve been more and the amplitude shorter. 

We also noticed that the stall force is progressive and not the same throughout the speed gears. You only get 30lbs. stall force at the highest speed.

Even so, it’s not a device recommended for those with bigger muscles that need a deep to the bone massage.


Amplitude (Stroke Length)

Amplitude is how far the head moves back and forth, and no one in this industry does it quite like Theragun. We would argue it’s their biggest selling point for all their devices.

The Prime has a 16mm amplitude which is the longest in the market for now. This used to be an only-Theragun kind of thing but more brands now equip their guns with 16mm amplitude. 

The 16mm amplitude is perfect for a deep percussive massage. In fact, if you’re a body builder or a demanding user, 16mm stroke length is perfect.

However, this only works if the stall force (no-stall force) is also good enough, and unfortunately we can’t say so for Theragun Prime.

Theragun Prime Measured Amplitude
We were able to confirm the Prime’s 16mm amplitude with a digital caliper.

Performance Comparison

Let’s see how the Theragun Prime compares against its competitors.


Stall Force (lbs.)

Our Take

Stall Force: With 30 lbs. of ‘no-stall force’, Theragun Prime is great as an entry-level massager, but won’t be able to keep up with some of its competitors (all more affordable).

Stroke Length (mm)

Our Take

Stroke Length: Prime’s amplitude of 16mm is best in business, rivaled only by Achedaway same 16mm. It’s just a pity that the stall force isn’t good enough to make the best use of it.


Percussions and Speed Levels

Percussions are the ones that tell you how intensive a massage can get with a particular device. We have always held that the higher the percussions the more you can get from a device.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if the percussions are too high and the amplitude is too low, then what you’re getting is vibration therapy and not percussion therapy. Also, if a device has a longer amplitude and fewer percussions per minute, then it’s good enough for a percussive massage.

Theragun Prime has a percussion range of 1750-2400rpm (rotations per minute). In our view, this is okay because of its longer amplitude.

However, we have seen devices that offer more percussions per minute with the same amplitude – the Achedaway Pro is a perfect example with 16mm amplitude and 2800 maximum percussions per minute. 

Prime has 5 speed levels to go with the percussions. The calibration is:

  • 1750 – first speed (lowest)
  • 1900 – second speed
  • 2100 – third speed
  • 2200 – fourth speed
  • 2400 – fifth speed (highest)

We love that the lowest speed starts at 1750rpm because with it you can get a precise massage – especially if you plan to use more pressure to target a specific point.

This could also be perfect for a warm-up massage which doesn’t need to be intensive (runners will love it for sure!).

Theragun App Ppm Speed Control
Custom speeds available via the Theragun App.

Rest assured, we found the advertised percussion range correct. We used a high-precision laser tachometer to measure percussions – and it revs up to 2400 percussions per minute indeed.


Noise

Theragun claims that the fourth generation devices are quieter than the previous 3rd generation and we agree. The Prime is a lot quieter than its predecessor – Liv.

However, it’s still not the quietest of guns. At 61 dB on the top speed, it’s louder than the bigger and more powerful Elite. The sound it makes isn’t as smooth as in the Elite, too.

In fact, we can name a dozen guns in this category that are quieter than this.

Even some of the most powerful guns are more hushed – Hypervolt Plus has a powerful motor but is a little bit more piped down, others include Ekrin B37S, Opove M3 Pro Max, and Achedaway Pro.

But we will single out the Bob and Brad D6 Pro here because it’s the smoothest of them all.


Battery

It’s a non-replaceable battery that will last for up to two hours of continuous use. However, even the two hours promised here depend on how you use the device.

For instance it may not last the full two hours if you stay too long on the maximum speed or apply too much pressure. You probably won’t need all of two hours for a massage anyway. 

To be fair, there are devices with better optimized and more juiced up batteries. For example, Ekrin’s full-sized guns offer 2550mAh capacity batteries that last 4-8 hours per single charge. This while weighing the same as the Prime.


The Therabody App

The Therabody app is the perhaps the coolest thing about the Theragun Prime. It is also one feature that distinguishes Theragun from anyone in the massage gun industry.

The gun connects with the app via Bluetooth. We recommend updating the device firmware if you want to enjoy the full range of functionalities. 

Once connected (happens rather seamlessly), the app guides you through how best to use your device and also how to maximize the benefits of each massage.

There are a lot of massage routines recommended within the app. There are warm-up routines, recovery routines, and routines for different situations like daily wellness, sleep, and waking up.

It’s really cool when using the app. For instance, if you were to have a full body massage for relaxation, the app will recommend; the massage attachment (dampener here), the type of grip, and the amount of pressure to apply for each body part.

As you massage the different body parts, you can feel the intensity changing as you move on to a different section of the body.

You can also adjust the massage gun speed within the app. The app also guides you on how much pressure to apply for what body part.

You can get the App here: iOS version or Android version.


Who Is It Best For?

We advise that you consider Theragun Prime as an entry-level massage gun. It’s only good if you want to have low to semi-intensive massages.

It’s not strong enough to offer deep to the bone percussive therapy and may not be good enough for body builders or people with a lot of muscle mass.

However, it may be a good gun for those looking to manage conditions such as lower back pain, arthritis, or other related issues that require delicate treatment.

percussive therapy with theragun prime
Theragun Prime massage gun in action.

Is Theragun Prime Worth It?

The Prime MSRP is $299 which is a pretty hefty price point. Perhaps the biggest reason why you may want to look elsewhere. You can check the latest price here, just to know for sure.

In addition to almost bleeding you dry, Theragun doesn’t even offer you a lifetime warranty. The best they can do is a 1-year warranty and this with conditions that have to be met to qualify. We know of brands that offer lifetime warranties on all their devices e.g. Lifepro or Ekrin

But we perhaps won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Theragun Prime is still a good introductory device that should be okay for anyone who just wants an everyday massage. It may not be good for professionals who want the most out of a massage gun though. For instance, the stall force is a big letdown if you consider the price. 

If you just want a Theragun and nothing else, then by all means go for the Prime. If you are okay with the low stall force, we recommend choosing it over the Elite model which is much more expensive.

If you want to learn more, check out our comprehensive Theragun Prime vs. Elite vs. Pro vs. Mini comparison.

However, if you really want a bang for your buck, there are some pretty viable options that we can recommend to you. Check out the ones below!


Best Alternatives to Theragun Prime


ekrin b37s percussion massager
Ekrin B37S

Ekrin B37S

The B37S is Ekrin’s second gun after their maiden Ekrin B37. As our Ekrin B37s review has shown, the B37S is definitely an improvement of the predecessor because it comes with some new exciting features.

We’ll go ahead and call it a high-end, premium device even though it’s not as celebrated as the Theragun.

To be honest we were wondering whether to suggest it as an alternative to the Theragun prime because it has way more advanced features.

Here’s what you get with this gun:

  • The stall force is superb. Even though Ekrin have not added anything to the stall force with this latest device (it’s still 56lbs of stall force), it’s still way better than what you are getting with the Prime. This means that you can get an intensive massage even if you have a lot of muscle mass. Also, with the Prime, the stall force is progressive and feels less powerful at lower speeds. With the Ekrin B37S, even with the lowest speeds the stall force still feels strong enough to work on bigger muscles. 
  • The amplitude is perfect with the high stall force. We said before how a smaller amplitude shouldn’t be a cause for concern if the stall force is more than enough. With the B37S, the 12mm amplitude will still serve you perfectly even when you have to massage your quads, glutes, and hamstring.
  • It delivers better intensity. The B37S revs up to 3200rpms. Compared to the Prime which stays at 2400, this device offers you more options. It also has 5 speeds to go with the percussions. The 5th speed gear alternates between the highest and lowest speeds automatically.
  • It’s more hushed than the Prime. With 60dB of noise, this thing is perfect to use anywhere without attracting attention.
  • It has 6 attachments. Now there are many devices with even more attachments, but it’s worth noting that Theragun Prime doesn’t have two crucial attachments – flat head, and the fork head. 
  • It has a built-in force meter like the bigger Pro and Elite.
  • It has a far more juiced-up battery. The battery will last up to 8 hours compared to Prime’s measly 2 hours.
  • It comes in a nice traveling case. The Prime only affords you a soft pouch.
  • It doesn’t come with an app for now, but we’ve heard rumors that Ekrin is working on one.
  • It has a lifetime warranty compared to Prime’s 1-year warranty.

B37S has similar features as the Theragun Elite/PRO but way cheaper than the Prime – if you use the coupon code MGA20 you can get it for $263.99, 20% off the original $329.99 price.

MORE INFO Read our hands-on Ekrin B37S review for more details and hi-resolution photos.


achedaway pro shape design
Achedaway Pro

Achedaway Pro

The Achedaway Pro is another great alternative that gives you way more options and features. It’s also the brand’s second massage gun that’s an improvement of its predecessor. It’s a powerful gun with similar features perhaps as the Theragun Pro.

Here’s what it offers:

  1. A powerful stall force. The Prime only has meagre 30lbs. stall force. This device has an advertised 80lbs. no-stall force. We have already used it when doing our Achedaway Pro review, and we can confirm that it’s indeed powerful but perhaps only 60lbs. no-stall force. Even so, this is Theragun Pro range of power. 
  2. It has 16mm amplitude. This is also why you should consider getting it instead. 
  3. Even with the 16mm amplitude, it’s more intensive than even the Theragun Pro. It has up to 2800rpms
  4. Even with the higher percussions and it’s powerful motor, this device is the quietest we have ever tested. We think it’s about 55dB of noise even at the highest speed gear. None of the Theraguns are this quiet. It has 5 speeds as well.
  5. It has better made attachments. Although it also only comes with 4 attachments (same as the Prime), the aluminum metal finishing (apart from the round spongy attachment) is quite slick. 
  6. The battery is colossal! It has a 3200mAh capacity battery that can last up to 4 hours straight. Ekrin B37S is better but the Achedaway Pro offers you the option of a removable battery. You can buy a spare battery.
  7. It comes with a travelling case.
  8. It has a 2-year warranty.

It’s also peer to the Theragun Pro but retails at the same price as the Prime ($299). You can use the coupon code MGA60 that gives you a $60 discount and thus get it for only $239.


Review Conclusion

Before we wrap up, we’d like to share some insights we’ve gathered from using this Theragun Prime, an entry-level massage gun.

  • Our first impression was that it’s a premium-grade device. In our testing, it served us well and we found it to be ideal for users who don’t require overly intense massages.
  • We were genuinely impressed with the Therabody app during our use. The app was very user-friendly, especially for those of us who had never used a massage gun before. We found the recommended routines to be excellent and effective in our sessions.
  • However, during our testing, we felt that those seeking more power might prefer the Theragun Elite, another model we’ve personally tried from the Theragun family.
  • If you’re on a budget, we’ve also put the Ekrin B37S and Achedaway Pro to the test. Both alternatives offered us more power at a lower price point – You can also check our post dedicated to Theragun alternatives for even more product recommendations.

Lastly, if you’re unsure about which massage gun to go for next, don’t hesitate to reach out. Based on our extensive personal experiences testing these devices, we’re here to guide you towards the right choice.

Bye!


Our Theragun Prime Rating

  • Quality
  • Effectiveness
  • Usability
  • Accessories
  • Price Value
3.7

Summary

In this test review, the Theragun Prime stood out as a well-designed, entry-level massage gun. We appreciated its clever ergonomics, impressive stroke length, and unique features. However, based on our personal experience with its performance, we believe it is best suited for amateur users. Despite its hefty $199 price tag, we felt it could benefit from increased stall force to fully utilize its amplitude. Additionally, we noticed that its operation could be quieter.

Sending
User Review
3.53 (40 votes)

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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!

Current version.

February 13, 2024 Text tweaks, along with adjustments to internal and external links. (Author: Greg)

October 8, 2023 Minor external linking changes. (Author: Greg)

Jun 5, 2023 Made changes to the article to better demonstrate our hands-on experience with the Prime. (Author: Luke)

Sep 9, 2022 Minor editorial changes and more photos added. (Author: Greg)

Jun 12, 2022 Added alternatives, all of which we personally tested and compared to Theragun Prime. (Author: Luke)

Mar 8, 2022 Updated with more practical information (design, ergonomics, time on battery). (Author: Luke)

Oct 10, 2021 Added photographs from our test lab. (Author: Greg)

Sep 27, 2021 Reviewed and fact-checked by Elizabeth Falk, PTA, OPTA, NASM-PES.

Published on:

Written by:

luke massagegunadvice

Luke Deszczulka

luke massagegunadvice
Luke Deszczulka

Hi! I'm Luke, a Biomedical Engineer with a passion for sports. I'm a lead reviewer for massage guns and wellness tech products at Massage Gun Advice. Alongside a dedicated Experts Board, I ensures each review is the result of thorough testing, in-depth research, and rigorous fact-checking, providing our readers with reliable and comprehensive insights.

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