Roundup: Which Percussive Massager Is Right For You?
Percussive devices—no, not the ones you play with drumsticks—are getting smaller, quieter, and cheaper. We look at four popular offerings.
A percussive massager is a handheld device that uses a rapid forward and backward movement to apply force to your muscles. The idea is to help stimulate soft tissues and blood flow—and, ultimately, to help your muscles recover after a workout or injury. Percussive massagers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and often have replaceable heads that allow you to tailor how focused the treatment is and how deeply they penetrate your muscles. Let’s take a look at three large units meant for home use, and one portable unit for the mobile triathlete.Section divider
Theragun Elite with Bluetooth
Theragun’s Elite is the most powerful massager in this group, but that’s not the only thing that sets it apart from the rest: The triangular shape also allows you to get at muscles you simply can’t get to with the other units. The Elite comes with five interchangeable heads, and one of them is a harder density than the others, so it’s easy to go very deep into troublesome areas. A small screen shows battery life as well as a pressure gauge so you know how much force to apply.
The Elite is the most expensive percussive massager in this group, so you’re certainly paying for the privilege to use it. It’s also easily the loudest of the bunch. While it’s not as noisy as the older version of the Theragun, it still can’t compete with the likes of the HyperVolt, so if noise is a major concern and you want a full-size unit, you’ll do better with the HyperVolt.Section divider
For a triathlete on-the-go or someone who can imagine traveling to races with a percussive massager, this is a great choice. It’s quite powerful for its size—not quite as powerful as the larger Theragun Elite, but certainly more powerful than some of its full-size competitors. The triangular shape makes it easy to apply pressure, especially when you’re using the unit on your legs, though shoulder and back work is a slightly tough reach.
Since it is a bit smaller and stripped down, there is no app integration or any screen to display pressure sensitivity. This unit is about simplicity. There’s just one button to contend with; other than that, you simply apply pressure and massage away. It’s also quieter than the Theragun Elite, so if you prefer to capitalize on the strength Theragun offers without the noise of the larger unit, this is a great choice.
RELATED: Reviewed: Therabody’s Theragun MiniSection divider
Addaday BioZoom Edge with Bluetooth
Addaday’s BioZoom Edge comes with three ways to control the unit and a decent array of swappable heads that let you tailor your massage quickly and easily. The easiest and most intuitive method is to use the blue buttons underneath your index finger. The second is via the top digital display, which is a little superfluous. The third is by using the dedicated app.
The BioZoom Edge is Bluetooth-enabled to work with the Addaday app, which offers structured sessions based on your specific needs, a session log, and other features. The unit is very quiet, but also comes up slightly short on power, particularly at the lower settings. The low price is another big advantage, but some cosmetic issues (like peeling decals) are a part of that deal, and the app is about the same as other brands. This is your unit if you want to get a full-size massager at a low price, but be aware that it may not offer as deep of a massage as its competition.Section divider
This unit is the quietest full-size one in the group but is also powerful enough to get into your deep tissues (though perhaps not quite as powerful as the Theragun Elite). The HyperVolt includes five different interchangeable heads to customize the depth and intensity of the massage—the round head is probably the most useful. Unlike the other units, the HyperVolt’s lithiumion battery is removable. HyperIce says you’ll get about three hours out of a charge, and the light around the end of the unit indicates how much charge you have left.
While the L-shaped unit isn’t always easy to position or leverage properly, especially when you’re trying to massage shoulders and lower back muscles, it’s great for its combination of low noise, good power, and ease of use.