You've seen it all over Instagram -- your favorite celebrities, athletes, and fitness pros sing its praises. But is the Theragun actually worth the hype? The , or percussive therapy , is said to help with , pain relief and more.
But is the device just for athletes, fitness pros, trainers and the like? And when is it worth dropping some serious cash to get your hands on one? Here's what you need to know about why the Theragun is so popular and why you should consider taking one home for yourself.
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1. It's not just for workout recovery
The Theragun is best known as a workout recovery device, but it was actually developed specifically as a pain management tool by a chiropractor. Dr. Jason Wersland, the founder and CEO of Theragun, created the device after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident. Looking for a more holistic alternative to surgery or pain medicine, Wersland found percussive therapy to be effective at managing difficult pain and built the first model of the Theragun himself. So, as a pain-relief tool, it can be helpful for a variety of ailments including tension, knots, aches, pains and yes, sore muscles.
Lissa Bankston, director of human performance at Theragun, told CNET that the way Theragun and other percussive therapy helps with pain is by interfering with pain signals to your brain. Basically, the percussion from the device is said to override the brain's pain signal, which can provide temporary relief from pain.
2. It can help you perform better in your workouts
Using a Theragun (or other percussive therapy device like the Hypervolt Hyperice) can help enhance your workout and prepare your body for exercise. According to Theragun, using the device pre-workout helps activate your muscles and increase range of motion. Fitness trainer Andrea Satyanarayana, who instructs dance fitness classes at DanceBody in New York City, said she uses the Theragun before training to help warm up her body.
"Before class I use the Theragun on my feet and calves to warm up and get ready for the jumping in dance cardio. After class I use it on my whole body, targeting my hips, back and shoulders to relax my muscles."
Nonna Gleyzer, a Pilates instructor and founder of Body by Nonna in Los Angeles, said she's used a Theragun personally and with clients since 2016 (she's worked with Tom Brady and many other pro athletes). "If the client has a muscle spasm, tight back or neck, I will use it in the beginning of the session to get rid of the pain. This way the client feels better and pain-free and can have a much more productive workout without thinking about the discomfort in the body," Gleyzer said.
3. It's more intense than foam rolling or massage therapy
When it comes to workout recovery, percussive therapy devices are often compared to deep tissue massages or foam rolling. Since the Theragun and other percussive therapy devices have serious force (up to 60 pounds to be exact) it can go deeper than say a foam roller or even a deep tissue massage.
According to Bankston, the actual muscle recovery benefit can be attributed to mechanotransduction, which is a term that basically refers to using some type of force (e.g., a Theragun or other massage technique) to create heat in the muscle, which causes the body to respond by increasing blood flow and nerve stimulation to that area. This response is part of what helps prevent delayed onset muscle soreness ( ). Percussive therapy also helps prevent the soreness you experience from lactic acid byproduct (what causes the sore feeling) that can build up during an intense workout session.
And since the Theragun's surface area is smaller than a foam roller, it can give you targeted relief in hard to reach places. "I tend to have pain in my right hip flexor and I spent a lot of time laying on a foam rollers and tennis balls trying to find the spot that was sore," Satyanarayana said. "With the Theragun I just point to the spot and turn it on and I feel an immediate release. It's expensive but definitely worth the money for someone that exercises often."
4. It can help you sleep better and manage stress
People call the Theragun a massage gun for good reason -- the device feels like an (intense) massage and can be helpful for relaxation and reducing stress. According to Theragun, percussive therapy can help reduce stress, tension, and help you sleep since it "downregulates" the nervous system. Even if you're not sure how the device will help you feel less stressed, aches and pains will keep anyone up at night. So it can't hurt to try it before bed to help soothe aches and pains so you can drift off to sleep easier.
5. It's like having your own on-demand massage therapist (for less)
If you get regular deep tissue or sports massages, you know that the expense, time and lack of convenience can be an issue. So why not try trading in a few massage sessions for a Theragun? It will cost you more up front than a typical massage session (Theraguns range in price from $249-$599, and a single massage session is typically around $100), but in the long run it can save you some cash.
Even if you don't totally stop getting massages, having a Theragun on hand can be helpful for in-between sessions or daily use.
How to know if it's right for you?
"Anyone can use one, although athletes or those who work out a lot stand to benefit the most, " Erin Pollicelli, PT, DPT and founder of STRETCH Kinetics, said. "I think people should know that it's not always easy to use on yourself; there are areas that are often tight but difficult to reach. "
So if you work out a lot and are serious about recovery and performance, a Theragun or similar device may be a good option for you. If you're still hesitant to buy one, you can always try a less expensive version before investing in a more professional-grade massage gun like the Theragun.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.