7 Massage Guns Evaluated

CR evaluated percussive massagers based on handle ergonomics, ease of use, and the postural stress they put on the body.

tester evaluating massage gun with 6 other massage guns on table in front of them Photo: John Walsh/Consumer Reports

A percussive massager—sometimes known as a massage gun—offers a way to mimic the pressure or force you might get from a deep tissue massage. And you can use one from your own home, without needing to enlist a massage therapist. These powered devices have a pulsating tip that you can use to dig into muscles, working out knots and relieving pain

“Some people like to use massage guns as warm-up devices, some people like to use them for post-exercise soreness reduction,” says Paul Ritchey, doctor of public health and a human factors and ergonomics specialist in CR’s Consumer Experience and Usability Research program. In recent years, people have also begun using these increasingly popular devices to temporarily alleviate the soreness associated not only with exercise but also physical stress and stiffness from sitting in a chair all day.

Consumer Reports evaluated seven different percussive massagers, representing popular and lesser-known brands at a variety of price points: the Hyperice Hypervolt Go, Hyperice Hypervolt Plus, Reathlete DEEP4s, Renpho R3 Massage Gun, Therabody Theragun Mini (4th Gen), Therabody Theragun Prime, and Therabody Theragun Pro.

Note that though we refer to these devices as massage guns, not all of them come with the pistol grip or index finger trigger typically associated with the term.

How We Evaluated Massage Guns

In comparing these devices with one another, CR conducted an expert evaluation of the handle ergonomics on each device; evaluated the postural stress required to use the devices; graded the ability of devices to reach body areas that can be difficult to reach on your own, like the back; and looked at ease of use and noise while in use.

More on Pain Relief

Notably, this evaluation was not meant to measure whether or not these devices are effective in a therapeutic sense. People use percussive massagers to help relieve pain, release tension, increase range of motion, and more. Research on their overall efficacy is limited, but experts have told CR that when used safely, they may help alleviate muscle pain.

To inform our expert evaluation, CR first conducted an online study of 34 massage gun users to understand which body parts users target with these devices, and to gather relevant impressions of certain devices. This study was used to generate a list of 10 body areas users might target with a massage device, so we could see—using a standard ergonomic assessment—how well devices could reach certain areas, and assess whether or not trying to use the devices would stress the body in an uncomfortable way. 

“These are supposed to make you feel better, so we thought it would be interesting to see whether you were adding stress to your body while using them,” Ritchey says. 

Two study participants were photographed while using each device to try to reach the 10 target areas. Devices that scored better on our postural stress measurement made it easier to reach target areas without needing to bend or flex the wrist or arm in an uncomfortable way, with a neutral posture—which puts the least amount of stress on the body—receiving the best score. 

We also examined the handle on each device, comparing it to an ergonomic checklist used to evaluate hand tools. This assesses how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use. Device weight also factors into handle ergonomics—it can be harder to grip or manipulate a heavier device, especially for people with limited grip, arm, or shoulder strength and mobility.

Our ease of use measures are meant to assess various aspects of the user experience, including how easy it is to control the device, check battery life, change attachments, and to understand the instructions provided with each device. We also evaluated how loud these devices were in comparison with one another because according to Ritchey, users frequently note that these devices can be quite loud.

Key Findings

From an ergonomic perspective, we found grips shaped like a triangle were the easiest to hold in a variety of positions, making it easier to reach various body parts without undue stress. An adjustable arm also reduces postural stress. The more adjustable and longer devices were overall better at reaching the upper and middle back. Still, because it’s hard to reach around and hold a device behind you, most people would have a hard time reaching these target areas without help. 

“I wouldn’t get a percussive massager if I was trying to mainly get my upper and middle back areas by myself,” Ritchey says.

Lighter devices tend to score better on handle and posture ergonomic measures because they can be more comfortable and easier to hold during use. 

When it comes to ease of use, all of the devices we evaluated scored relatively well, though some had better instructions or more straightforward designs. While the most expensive device we tested comes with an OLED display, which adds a certain “coolness factor,” according to Ritchey, that doesn’t really improve the usability of the device in any substantive way, he says. 

In talking with some current massage gun users, Ritchey learned that some of these devices can generate more force than the average person may need or want. Some users said they just use them on the lowest setting, he says. But that range of power could mean that these are well suited to a wide range of users, from someone who casually works out to a more serious competitive athlete.

The attachments that come with each device tend to be pretty similar, Ritchey says, though it’s still worth taking a look at each device to ensure that it has whatever attachment you might want to hit a specific body region. Once you have a device, try different attachments to see what works best for you and the body area you are massaging—like a “bullet” attachment for a trigger point like the trapezius shoulder-area muscle, or a “fork” attachment for a region like your calves or hamstrings. (Read more about how to use a massage gun safely in our previous story.)

Massage Gun Scores

These devices appear in rank order.

Therabody Theragun Pro

Adjustable Arm: Yes

Handle Style: Triangle


Weight (lbs): 2.9

Price: $600

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
5/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
4/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
4/5

This is the loudest and by far the priciest device we evaluated, but also has one of the best ergonomic handles and is one of the best at reaching areas on the back. It has an adjustable arm, and the attachments lock onto the arm in a satisfying way that helps you know they’re well attached. 

“[I love] the intensity of the massage.[ I dislike] the noise—it’s loud,” one participant said. This device is probably best for those using it in a professional or sports setting, or for people who really want to be able to at least somewhat massage their upper and middle back on their own.

Shop: Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s, Target, Theragun

Therabody Theragun Prime

Adjustable Arm: No

Handle Style: Triangle


Weight (lbs): 2.2

Price: $300

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
5/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
3/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
4/5

Like the Theragun Pro, the Theragun Prime comes with one of the triangle-shaped handles that we considered best for an ergonomic grip. The fixed arm makes it less adjustable than its Pro counterpart, but the handle still offers a variety of holding options, including two-handed grips. It’s easy to use and has straightforward controls.

One participant said: “[What I love most is its] ergonomic grip, [and its] design promotes targeting specific spots easier, [with attachments that] provide the easiest experience on both the usability side, and providing the best experience to yield even better results on your body.”

This is a thoughtfully designed device with a nice design and carry bag, though it is one of the louder devices.

Shop: Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Macy’s, Target, Theragun

Renpho R3 Massage Gun

Adjustable Arm: No

Handle Style: Pistol


Weight (lbs): 1.5

Price: $100

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
4/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
3/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
5/5

The Renpho R3 Massage Gun might be the best all-around device for most average users, as it is small and lightweight, and relatively quiet compared with other devices. However, it’s not the ideal choice for people who want the most intense massage or the best way to massage areas on the back. 

“I love that it is not very big, and lightweight. I love the case that I have to carry in it and that it came with 5 different attachment heads,” one user said. “Since it is smaller it can be difficult to reach areas on your back if you’re doing it yourself.”

The pistol grip could add some postural stress, compared with some of the other devices, though its light weight and small form factor could help alleviate stress for some. As an added bonus, this can be charged with a standard USB-C charging cable.

Shop: Amazon, Renpho, Walmart

Therabody Theragun Mini

Adjustable Arm: No

Handle Style: Wedge


Weight (lbs): 1.4

Price: $200

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
4/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
4/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
4/5

This ultraportable device was one of the quietest we tested. It has a wedge-shaped handle and was one of the best devices for reducing problematic wrist postures. But it doesn’t come with any attachments, and won’t be able to reach most of the back.

“I like the fact that it is small to hold, I love how easy it is to use and charge. It’s compact and easily transportable,” one user said. “The mini does a great job on the muscles. My only issue is that I can’t reach the lower shoulders.”

For overall portability and quiet, this could be a top choice.

Shop: Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s, Target, Theragun

Hyperice Hypervolt Plus

Adjustable Arm: No

Handle Style: Pistol


Weight (lbs): 3

Price: $299

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
4/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
3/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
5/5

The Hypervolt Plus has a larger, pistol-grip style handle. It’s somewhat unbalanced, but the length could help some users massage hard-to-reach areas on the back.

This was one of our best devices in terms of ease of use, though the weight could make it the wrong choice for people who have issues with grip, arm, or shoulder strength and mobility.

Shop: Amazon, Best Buy, Hyperice, Target

Reathlete DEEP4s

Adjustable Arm: Yes

Handle Style: Triangle


Weight (lbs): 2.6

Price: $240

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
4/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
3/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
5/5

The DEEP4s comes with an adjustable arm and triangle-shaped handle, though it’s not as ergonomically friendly as the Theragun devices when it comes to finding an optimal grip. By experimenting with its adjustable arm, users may be able to reach the back better with this device than with some others. But unfortunately, the display and control buttons may make this device harder to use than some others.

One study participant described it as having “very sensitive controls—easy to hit accidentally and change speed. Kind of heavy, is a little loud.”

While this handle isn’t the most effective of the triangle-shaped handles, it’s nice to have a more affordable option with an adjustable arm.

Shop: Amazon, Target, Reathlete, Walmart

Hyperice Hypervolt Go

Adjustable Arm: No

Handle Style: Pistol


Weight (lbs): 1.5

Price: $200

Expert Evaluation Scores
Handle Ergonomics and Comfort: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how comfortable and easy it is to grip the device’s handle during use.
Handle Ergonomics
and Comfort
4/5
Postural Stress During Use: Based on an ergonomic assessment of how well users can maintain good wrist, arm, and shoulder postures when using the device.
Postural Stress
During Use
3/5
Ease of Use: Based on an expert assessment of how easy and intuitive the device will be for most users to learn, use, and maintain.
Ease of Use
4/5

This is another lightweight device that’s more portable—though it does not include a carry case. It has a pistol grip that’s not the most ergonomic, and is one of the louder devices. 

Our expert says this isn’t a bad option, but other devices may be quieter and easier to use for those looking for a small, portable percussive massage device.

Shop: Amazon, Best Buy, Hyperice, REI, Target

Quick Picks

If you can, the ideal way to choose a percussive massager would be to try it out in person, getting a sense for how it feels and works. But since that’s not easily doable for all, Ritchey has some suggestions for making a choice. While our scores should help you make a pick, the right choice depends in large part on which features are most important to you. 

If you want maximum adjustability and the ability to reach your back by yourself—and price and loudness are no concern—the Theragun Pro might be the choice for you. However, this is a premium product that may be somewhat more positioned for professional use, Ritchey says.

If you are just looking for a percussive massager that’s straightforward, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive, check out the Renpho R3 Massage Gun.

People with smaller hands or limited grip, arm, or shoulder strength should check out one of the more lightweight devices, like the Renpho R3 Massage Gun, Theragun Mini, or Hypervolt Go.

If grip strength is no issue, you have larger hands, and want better reach, take a look at the Hypervolt Plus, which has a longer handle.

The Theragun mini is a great choice for people most interested in portability and basic use, without the need for different attachments.

No matter what device you opt for, make sure to check out the instructions that come with the box and online. Start with the lightest setting on each device, since you may not need as much pressure as you think. It’s best to keep your wrist in a neutral non-bent position when holding devices, as much as you can.

If you’re concerned about the prices of these devices, you have other options—sometimes simple items like a lacrosse ball or foam roller can apply pressure to your body tissue and help work out knots.

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Head shot image of CRO Health editor Kevin Loria

Kevin Loria

I'm a science journalist who writes about health for Consumer Reports. I'm interested in finding the ways that people can transform their health for the better and in calling out the systems, companies, and policies that expose patients to unnecessary harm. As a dad, I spend most of my free time trying to keep up with a toddler, but I also enjoy exploring the outdoors whenever possible. Follow me on Twitter (@kevloria).