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I had never heard of “Percussive Therapy” or “Massage Guns” until I read an article in Men’s Running.
At first I was sceptical of course: a converted jigsaw should help me to run or to recover? On the other hand, the machines seem to have been used in fitness and weight training for quite some time.
Sponsored Post: Affenhand provided me with the products for this review at my request. This had no influence on the content of my post. The article is written indipendently and reflects exclusively my personal experiences.
Inhalt / Content
Vibration therapy – what is it all about?
You might know those vibrating plates in gyms – that’s not what it is about. ;) Rather it is about a form of self-massage with the help of a device that transmits vibrations to the tissue with high speed and high amplitude.
This should achieve similar effects as with a real massage: relaxation of the muscles, treatment of trigger points, release of tension, improvement of blood circulation, higher mobility. Therefore many physiotherapists seem to use such devices, if you can believe the many instructional videos on Youtube.
The advantage of these massage pistols, however, is that they can be easily applied to all problematic areas of the body and should be superior to other forms of self-massage (e.g. Blackroll!). This of course made me curious! :)
Fortunately there is a wide range of these devices on the Internet, but at the same time there seems to be only one big top dog: Theragun. This is certainly not the cheapest product on the market, but it is backed up by a qualified retailer and no China shop.
Theragun offers three versions of its massager. The beginner’s version is called LIV and is the model for everyone at a reasonable price – if you can speak of cheap at 250 Euro ;) For athletes they recommend the model G3, which for just under 400 Euro has slightly more equipment. The top model G3Pro costs more than 600 Euro, but offers more possibilities for professionals, e.g. with an exchangeable battery.
I would probably have chosen the Theragun LIV, if the friendly advice from the Affenhand-Team hadn’t advised me so clearly to G3. And in retrospect I am very glad that I listened to them.
If you don’t know Affenhand: they are the ones with the gorilla. ;) I noticed the Fitness-Onlineshop mainly because there are many good recovery tools like the PowerDot 2.0, the Compex devices (I already had both in the test) or the Sidekick Massage Tools. So it is worthwhile to have a look there as a runner as well.Review
That’s how it should be: the Theragun G3 is delivered in a high quality packaging. This contains an also high-quality transport bag, in which the device and all accessories are very well accommodated.
Besides the Theragun, the package also includes a charger and a total of four different attachments for the massager: the (soft) Dampener, a (slightly firmer) standard ball, the Thumb and a very nasty Cone. ;)
The application possibilities of the attachments are explained in the corresponding, very chic App. They can be easily and safely attached to the arm of the Theragun G3 and quickly replaced if necessary.
The massage pistol itself has two buttons on the handle: a on/off switch and a switch for changing between the two available speeds (40 and 29 bpm).
The socket for the supplied charging cable is almost opposite. A LED indicator on the edge of the handle provides information about the charging status. When fully charged, the battery should last 60 minutes – depending on the pressure applied, of course.
Experiences in application
So what happens now, when you turn on the infernal device… ;) It gets loud – about the same as a regular cordless screwdriver. The motor has to move the arm with a frequency of 40 hearts and an amplitude of 16 millimeters. The G3 is the last of the three models in the video comparison.
I find the volume level absolutely ok – but it can disturb other people in the same room. Watching TV at the same time is only possible with increased volume. With application lengths between 30 seconds (warming up) and two minutes (releasing tension) this should not be a big factor.
Basically, after switching on, you can start directly and work on the area to be treated – similar to the way you would do it with a massage. To do this, you first move slowly and without pressure along the affected muscle. The Theragun will then indicate hardening (with a little experience) by means of light vibrations.
If you prefer to follow a manual, the Theragun app is a useful guide. By the way: the special (triangular) shape of the massager makes extreme sense when using it. It allows you to always have the right grip to reach the desired area easily. I can easily reach every part of my body and can even massage my entire back. Although I gladly accept help for it. ;)
Also the attachments seem to me to be very sensitively compiled. They offer a wide range of pressure areas and hardnesses. I have relatively quickly developed a good feeling for when I want to use which attachment. The Thumb, for example, is ideal for the lower back, while it would be much too hard for my shoulders. Only the Cone is used very rarely. You can reach deep muscles quite well with it, but at the same time you have to be really careful with it.
I have to admit that I was using the Theragun G3 much more often than I would have suspected at the beginning. For weeks it has been always at hand and was also with me on vacation. With treatment lengths of about two minutes, you can repeat this about 30 times before the device needs to be recharged. That was never a limiting factor for me. On the one hand, the LED-display gives information about the charge level at any time, so that one can act in time. On the other hand, the treatment can already show that recharging makes sense: with a little more pressure, the engine stops working. It can be switched on again immediately and used for gentle massages, but it lacks a little (battery) power.
But the key question is, of course: does it really work? I would say yes. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first. A tense neck wasn’t just fine again even after 1-2 treatments – that was my expectation. Also the Theragun can’t do miracles. But the best proof that it makes a difference is my frequent use.
I could observe two phenomena. In the case of painful areas, the Theragun can “anaesthetize” the area relatively quickly and permanently. The pain is gone almost immediately, the underlying problem of course not. But it is simply a very good first measure, which can also be very well localized. Afterwards, warmth will help and later perhaps a further treatment with a soft attachment. Problem solved.
In all cases in which I would otherwise have used a Blackroll, you can get on very well with the Theragun. First you “feel” the muscle group with the Theragun and then you take care of conspicuous areas more intensively. Thereby you consciously leave out the pain points and work around them. After a few minutes of a second treatment you will often find that these points have almost disappeared and you can now massage the whole muscle group carefully. By the way, you should always think in terms of muscle chains, i.e. not only treat the buttocks, but also the hamstrings and the lower back.
As already mentioned above, in my product research I only ever came across the recommendation “Theragun”. The only serious competitor is probably the Hyperice Hypervolt. Apart from a small advantage in price and loudness, the device does not have many benefits. Neither in terms of amplitude nor power it seems to be able to hold a candle to the Theragun. I have included a video, which should show this difference. Whether this really makes a statement about a better effectiveness, I cannot say. But it shows the difference between the two devices.
The high price certainly does not tempt to a spontaneous purchase. But I can only advise against looking for other much cheaper models. In my experience, power and amplitude of the device are a decisive factor. Then better go for the entry-level model LIV or save a bit.
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