Best massage gun 2022: Speed up muscle recovery and banish pain

Jane Hoskyn
29 Nov 2022

Transform your fitness programme and banish painful muscle knots with our guide to the best massage guns you can buy

The best massage guns are more than just battery-operated substitutes for a willing pair of hands. These powerful, rechargeable devices deliver a particular type of deep-tissue massage: an intense, percussive pummelling, designed to eliminate muscle knots, increase blood flow and aid sports recovery.

You don't have to be a fitness buff to feel the benefit of these versatile handheld machines. The best massage guns come with several speeds and interchangeable heads, so you can create the perfect setting for all kinds of massage needs, from post-work circulation boosters to pre-sleep muscle soothers. Massage guns are also excellent natural pain killers, especially when combined with heat and cold therapy.

Read on for our guide to buying the ideal massage gun for your sports regime or aching muscles. If you already know the kind of things to look out for, skip down the page to our best massage gun recommendations.

Our best value massage gun is now even cheaper

The Renpho R3 is a great lightweight massage gun with an excellent battery life. You can currently get the R3 for just £80 on Amazon, down from around £100. Amazon Was £100 Now £80 Buy Now

Best massage gun: At a glance

  • Best for deep-tissue sports massage: Theragun Elite | Buy now
  • Best value massage gun: Renpho R3 GM171 | Buy now
  • Best for pain relief: HoMedics Pro Physio Massage Gun | Buy now
  • Best small but powerful massage gun: Power Plate Mini+ | Buy now
  • Best budget massage gun: TYIAUS Massage Gun | Buy now

How to choose the best massage gun for you

Why do I need a massage gun?

Massage guns are power tools for your muscles. They use a rapid percussive action (think of the pummelling, pounding type of massage) that increases blood flow to the area and, as a result, helps eliminate muscle soreness and inflammation. So these devices have become very popular among athletes for promoting muscle recovery, which is an essential part of any fitness programme.

The best massage guns can be used before and during workouts, too, to warm up muscles (which again helps avoid injury and soreness) and to force out lactic acid, which can make your limbs feel stiff while exercising. But, as with stretching, you're advised not to overdo it before or during your workout. Experts suggest focusing your massage gun on each muscle group for only up to 30 seconds before and during exercise. Then once your workout is done, you can go at it a bit more, spending up to two minutes on each muscle group.

Deep-tissue pummelling also releases tension and helps to unravel painful muscle knots. If you hit your pressure points, massage can also boost the production of endorphins. So even if you're not sporty, a massage gun can do wonders for your physical and mental health, and even help you wind down for a good night's sleep.

READ NEXT: Theragun review

You can have too much of a good thing, though. Don't be tempted to use your massage gun for more than 10 minutes in one go, especially on the higher speed settings.

What features should I look for when buying a massage gun?

Massage guns are expensive bits of kit. Even our best-value recommendation costs well over £50. So before you shell out, know what you want from your gun.

If you're a regular gym-goer who takes training and recovery seriously, then a high-powered massage gun with Bluetooth and a companion fitness app will be a worthwhile investment. If you want a device to soothe sore muscles after another long day at your desk, then look for a lightweight massage gun that offers various easy-to-attach heads and gentler speed settings.

READ NEXT: Renpho massage gun review

Here are the main features you'll want to compare when shopping for a massage gun:

Speed levels: The speed with which the head of the device pounds against you is measured in percussions per minute (PPM). About 2400 PPM is about as intense as most people will want to go, but one of our best-value recommended massage guns goes up to 4800, very much the "up to 11" of the massage gun world.

What's important is that you have a few speeds to choose between, so you can opt for low-intensity massage for everyday muscle relief, medium to boost recovery, and high intensity to get rid of painful knots. Look for three or more optional speeds, which are easy to switch between while you use the device.

Amplitude: This means the depth to which the massager can penetrate your muscles. If you’re an athlete wanting a powerful machine for effective muscle recovery, go for an amplitude of at least 12mm. A couple of our best sports massage guns have an amplitude of 16mm.

Attachments: Most of our recommended massage guns come with a set of free interchangeable massage heads, usually made from foam or rubber. The standard ball-shaped head is great for massaging large muscle groups, including your arms, back, buttocks and thighs. More specialist heads such as a conical shape provides a more intense targeted massage for trigger points and smaller areas, such as your feet. Some massage guns include more unusual attachments such as a u-shaped head, which you can use to massage either side of your spine and around your achilles tendon.

Weight: All our recommended massage guns are cordless and rechargeable, and light enough to carry around. But a couple are particularly small and weigh in at under 700g, ideal for your gym bag or locker, or even for taking along on hiking and cycling trips.

Battery life: You're unlikely to use your massage gun for more than 10 minutes at a time, but you don't want to have to plug it in to recharge after every single time you use it. So look for a battery life of two or more hours, so you can leave the massage gun in your gym bag or locker without having to worry that it may run dry on you.

Charging format: A versatile charging format, such as USB-C, is really handy too, because it means you can plug the unit into your phone charger.

The best massage guns to buy now

1. Theragun Elite: Best massage gun for a really deep sports massage

Price: £375 | Buy now from Argos

The Theragun Elite tops Theragun's consumer range (there's also the £549 Theragun Pro, aimed at personal trainers and massage therapists) and is packed with features, but is it worth £375? Yes, said our in-depth review, which gave this powerful device five stars and hailed its ease of use, excellent Android and iOS companion app (which connects to the gun via Bluetooth), and deep muscle-pounding 16mm amplitude.

You also get five interchangeable foam attachments (dampener, standard ball, wedge, thumb and cone) and five speeds (1,750-2,400ppm), giving you many different combinations of surface and intensity for different muscle groups and parts of your body. You're guided through these combinations and helped to achieve your perfect massage programme by the app.

The Elite's unusual shape enables you to hold it in various ways, making it easier to reach awkward places than with standard pistol-grip massage guns. The angular shape does take up a fair bit of space in your gym bag, though. The Elite is also one of the noisiest massage guns on our list. But if you're serious about your fitness regime, or desperate to sort out those knotty back muscles once and for all, this device is a sound investment.

Read our full Theragun Elite review for more details

Key specs – Size: 24 x 17 x 7.4cm; Weight: 1kg; Amplitude: 16mm; Attachments included: 5; Speed settings: 5; Usage per charge: Up to 2 hours; Colours available: 4

2. Renpho R3 GM171: Best value massage gun

Price: £105 | Buy now from Amazon

The Renpho R3 is the other massage gun we've reviewed in-depth. It can't equal the Theragun Elite for brute power (hence its four-star score), but as the second-cheapest massage gun on our list it offers amazing value for money.

This lovely lightweight massager moves easily over your muscles to provide a thorough, satisfying massage, without penetrating so deep that it causes pain. It comes with an impressive set of speed options and foam attachments (ball, 'air-cushion', fork, bullet and flat head), and uses USB-C like almost all modern Android phones. With an excellent battery life of up to six hours, you won't need to charge the gun too often anyway. It's also much quieter than the Theragun, and easier to fit into a gym bag or travel bag.

Glowing Amazon reviews from daily runners, swimmers and gym-goers testify to the muscle-healing power of the Renpho R3, saying it "provides instant relief from sore muscles" and allows them to train harder because they know this device will soothe their muscle afterwards.

Read our full Renpho R3 review for more details

Key specs – Size: 18.6 x 20.1 x 14.4cm; Weight: 680g; Amplitude: 9mm; Attachments included: 5; Speed settings: 5; Battery life: Up to 6 hours; Colours available: 2

3. MuscleGun Carbon: Best mid-range massage gun

Price: £200 | Buy now from Amazon

Commanding a five-star rating in our full-length review, the MuscleGun Carbon is one of the best value massage guns around – and definitely our pick for a gun at £200 or under.

Despite costing half the price of the stellar Theragun Elite, it’s got higher top and low end speeds ranging from a leisurely 1,400 ppm to a fierce 3,200 ppm. Place that inside a well-shaped and balanced gun, and you've got a range of intensities to ease muscular aches at whatever angle you can manage. You’re only missing out on the deepest of massage treatments, but the 12mm depth still packs a sizable punch for the price – and you won’t need to stop for anyone with its astonishing 5hr battery life.

It’s all super simple to pack away, too: the carry case is an extremely portable, zip-up container for the gun, charger and its accessories. If you’re seeking a middle ground between suspiciously cheap and exceedingly expensive, this is the massage gun for you.

Read our full MuscleGun Carbon review for more details

Key specs – Size: 18.8 x 6.2 x 24.2cm; Weight: 0.98kg; Amplitude: 12mm; Attachments included: 4; Speed settings: 5; Usage per charge: Up to 5 hours; Colours available: 1

4. HoMedics Pro Physio Massage Gun: Best heated massage gun for pain relief and cellulite

Price: £250 | Buy now from Argos

HoMedics Pro Physio is near the top of the price range for consumer massage guns, but it really packs in the features including a special head to tackle cellulite, and built-in warm and cold temperature therapy for brilliantly effective natural pain relief.

Among the six interchangeable heads HoMedics includes with its Pro Physio massage gun are a 'heat head', which you can set to heat up to 47˚C in less than two minutes, and a 'cold head', which you can keep in the freezer. For many, these will make all the difference to training and everyday comfort. The device is also mercifully quiet, and glides smoothly over your skin or clothes, whichever head you use (barrel, ball and arrow are all included, as well as cellulite, hot and cold).

Key specs – Size: 15.2 x 13.5 x 7.7cm; Weight: 915g; Amplitude: 10mm; Attachments included: 6; Speed settings: 3; Battery life: Up to 3.5 hours; Colours available: 1

5. Power Plate Mini+: Best small but powerful massage gun

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

The Power Plate Mini+ is the smallest and lightest massage gun on our list, but it's not short of power, achieving up to a seriously muscle-whacking 3,600ppm top speed. The two interchangeable heads are really easy to attach, and this is one of the quieter massage guns you can buy, making it ideal for giving your muscles a post-run massage while you watch TV or play warm-down music, or for soothing your muscles before bed.

On the downside, the Mini+'s 9mm amplitude may not be quite as deep as you need for a sports massage, and you may find it a little too small for large hands.

Key specs – Size: 15.3 x 9.3cm; Weight: 435g; Amplitude: 8mm; Attachments included: 2; Speed settings: 4; Battery life: Up to 5 hours; Colours available: 1

6. Theragun Mini: Best small deep-tissue massage gun to keep in your gym bag

Price: £175 | Buy now from Argos

The Theragun Elite's little brother is even smaller than the Power Plate Mini+ and offers a deeper sports massage (12mm). The solid triangular handle can be tricky to grip in certain positions, but it does lend the device a handsome look and durability, which it'll need if it's being thrown around in your gym bag every morning. You only get the basic ball attachment in the box, but the Theragun Mini is compatible with all 4th generation Theragun attachments, which you can buy from Therabody.

Key specs – Size: 15.2 x 13.5 x 7.7cm; Weight: 650g; Amplitude: 12mm; Attachments included: 1; Speed settings: 3; Battery life: 2.5 hours; Colours available: 5

7. TYIAUS Massage Gun: Best budget massage gun

Price: £39 | Buy now from Amazon

It looks like something you'd whip out to blast space invaders, and you don't have the reassurance of a big brand name. But this excellent massage gun packs in a remarkable set of features for just £56 and receives glowing reviews from Amazon buyers. As well as an LED touchscreen, carry case, deep-tissue amplitude and excellent eight-hour battery life, you get six massage heads including a u-shape head for spinal massage, and 30 (30!) speed modes, going up to 3,600 strokes per minute.

The device can be rather noisy at top speed, and there really is no good reason to have that many speed options - we'd rather have fewer, which are easier to switch between. You also don't get a charger. But the TYIAUS is impressive for the price.

Key specs – Size: 15.3 x 9.3cm; Weight: 1kg; Amplitude: 16mm; Attachments included: 6; Speed settings: 30; Battery life: Up to 8 hours; Colours available: 1

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