The Theragun Mini is a palm-sized percussive massage tool that may not have as much power as the full-sized version, but possibly more use
Lightweight, easy to use, quiet
Still not exactly cheap
Theragun Mini, Theragun.com
We’ve definitely been fans of percussive massage, now more than ever, because it allows triathletes to self-treat minor aches and pains before they require professional attention. As we continue to be wary about contact with others, now is the exact time to look into anything DIY, especially if it can help you repair the damage you’ve done by running more than usual, riding indoors on the trainer, and/or sitting at an unfamiliar and uncomfortable desk/chair combo. In these times with restrictive training and unique working conditions, we’re finding more ways than ever to hurt ourselves, and not everyone is going to feel great about seeing a masseuse for help.
What the Theragun Mini Does
For anyone who hasn’t heard of percussive massage before, it uses a pulsing tip of various shapes and density to cause vibrations in the muscles, stimulating blood flow and loosening tight muscles. From devices as simple as DIY reciprocating saw-based massagers to high-end massagers with multiple speeds, lots of angles and tips, and near-silent use, even professional physical therapists are finding percussive massage helpful in treating muscle soreness. Theragun (now called Therabody as they’ve begun offering a wider range of products recently) has typically been on the upper end of the price scale, but also very adjustable, powerful, and well-made. Their only downside has been a typically louder-than-most amount of sound. (We compared Theragun and Hypervolt in a recent Face-Off, where Theragun struggled with loudness.)
What Therabody Gets Right
Even when taking into account the other higher-end percussive massagers Therabody now offers, the Theragun Mini does a great job standing on its own. In terms of battery life, the Mini goes for 150 minutes on one charge, while all but the $600 Theragun fall short of that. In terms of speed, it doesn’t lack at all—offering three speeds to the other models’ five, but still hitting the upper and lower ends just fine, which is likely enough for anyone but a professional.
The shape, design, no-slip grip and texture, and size are all fantastic, and I’d be willing to bet that the Mini gets more use simply because it’s so small and easy to carry. There’s something to be said for grabbing this thing while you work or watch TV to knead out little tightnesses well before things get serious. If you’re more likely to use it because it’s so inconspicuous, that’s actually a big deal. Also, the unique shape does a great job at reaching odd angles on your body—something I was nervous about that the multiangle guns did well with.
Finally, the thing that we were most interested in: the sound. Below, we’ve posted a comparison video using a smartphone decibel meter being held at ear distance from the Theragun Mini on low, medium, then high settings. Then, we’ve recorded the sound level at a reasonable distance while watching TV at a normal volume—at a volume where someone could be sleeping in the other room and not be woken up. The results quantify what we knew right away—this is a MUCH quieter device than anything Therabody produced before. You could easily watch TV in a room of other people and not disturb anyone. You might even be able to use it in the same room as someone sleeping, as at all speeds it’s about as disturbing as a fan on low. This is a HUGE improvement and something that really pushes this product over the edge into something that can get a lot of use.
What Therabody Still Needs To Work On
While the Theragun Mini is a vast improvement, in my opinion, over the “guns” they’ve made so far, it’s still not the perfect device. At $200, it’s not exactly an easy gift option (which is what it should be). I would think a device like this, with no Bluetooth/smart features and a simple AC adapter (not USB) should be right around $100 before people start buying them up. Though it’s still cheaper than everything else Theragun makes, this is decidedly a consumer-focused product that’s still a little pricey for the regular person who doesn’t know if it would work for them or not. Other than that, it would be great if it came with other tips, like the other models in the line, but as someone who only usually needs the one it comes with, it’s not a huge deal. (We’ve had physical therapists confirm that this tip is what they use 90% of the time as well.) All in all, not a lot of complaints.
Therabody Theragun Mini: Those Conclusions
As someone who was a little perplexed and let down by the noise-to-price-to-use ratio of the earlier generations of Theraguns, the Mini feels very validating. I’d expect this device does much better—especially for non-pros who just need it for little things here and there. The fact that there are so many poorly made percussive devices that look like the other models of Theragun make this one definitely stand out in terms of design as well. I would strongly recommend this tool as not just an intro to percussive therapy, but as a solution for 90% of triathletes looking to perform a little DIY PT during these uncertain (and soreness-inducing) times.