Also known as Handheld Massagers, Percussive Massagers are a real modern technology that is making waves in the sports and fitness industry, tidal waves.
On June 19th 2018 it was also given huge exposure online by Firas Zahabi, a massive figure in MMA and George St. Pierre’s personal coach.
Firas has also appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast to discuss fitness and training techniques, both of their opinions are heavily respected in the industry.
If you’re unsure who these guys are, GSP is one of the biggest names in combat sports and also appeared in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
My point is, these 2 are fully promoting a brand of percussion massagers named the ‘TimTam’, just one of many high quality percussive massagers. Also gaining steam on Twitter, appearing in many famous sports people’s videos.
When Firas was asked why he uses one, he gave a ton of compelling reasons, which we will mention at the bottom in the FAQ, one of which resonated most, that it is simply faster.
“I can do a whole leg in 5 minutes rather than an hour of massage” he says.
In 2019 where convenience and speed are everything we desire, this puts another old time-consuming tradition to bed. Or at least reduce the need and therefore the frequency of such a treatment.
But What is a Percussion Massager?
Essentially a portable device that can fit in your hand, corded or cordless and run a massage session on any part of your body.
They work by pulsing and applying a concentrated pressure, which acts as a deep tissue massage.
Also known as a portable massager, they do vary in strength and usage, which we will break down today.
Proven to vastly speed up recovery time, a great aid for martial arts practices, athletes and any fitness fanatics.
How Do They Work and What Does it Do?
The concentrated pulse as mentioned before will unlock knots and reduce tension in muscle tissue, just like a real massage would.
Naturally, it will improve your blood flow in treated areas and recover your flexibility in movement.
Additionally, you can really focus on problem areas, by just working the same area over and over.
The hard pulses will relieve pain and speed up recovery time hugely.
The faster you can recover, the quicker you can get back to training, the more training you can do, the better you get.
It’s that simple.
Top Handheld Percussion Massagers Reviewed
1. TimTam v1.5 Massage Device
One of the models that started the wave, the TimTam v1.5 is their best seller to date and has knocked up numerous positive reviews all over the world, this was one of the first massage guns to go viral.
Of course it would, being test-driven by GSP on social media and Youtube, it was bound to happen, but let’s check out some of its useful features.
Internally very powerful and can run at around 2000 strokes per minute, easily reliving stored lactic acid and improving blood flow speedily.
The patented shaft which is threaded creates a stable structure, which can withstand the excessive strokes this massage device offers.
The head can pivot 90 degrees and the box set comes with interchangeable tips, so you can customize the massage head to meet the needs of different body areas.
Due to its popularity, it’s slightly at the higher end of the market price-wise. Although the free carry case, changeable heads, charger and lithium-ion battery do attempt to balance this.
- 2000 Strokes Per Minute
- Free Interchangeable Massage Tips
- Patented Shaft (Extra Durability)
2. Theragun G3Pro Percussion Massager
We chose the G3Pro over the G2Pro simply because it’s so much quieter now when running the treatments, which is a rarity in powerful massagers.
This is one of the high-end models which has been used by experts across the globe, you can see immediately it is designed differently than the norm, with a unique triangle handle design.
This allows you to pivot the massager left and right and hit those angles acutely, reaching areas of the body you may struggle with normally, such as the lower back, ribcage areas.
MIT Engineers have managed to reduce the sound by 50% since the G2Pro, without the power of the motor suffering.
As you can see it comes with a montage of different massage heads, allowing you to do deep tissue massages, larger areas, small areas and work out the knots with the pointed or cone-shaped heads.
All come with rechargeable batteries and a 2 year warranty.
- 2000 Strokes Per Minute
- Free Interchangeable Massage Tips
- Patented Shaft (Extra Durability)
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3. Thumper Maxi Pro Electric Massager
The Maxi Pro from Thumper is their best seller and the masterpiece of the 8 models they have created.
Working in a slightly different way to the direct impact of the massage guns, this device sends the energy perpendicular to the tissue.
This way it can push through the fascial layers which greatly reduces tension and fatigue in the muscle.
This is one of 2 models that have been branded as professional massage standard. The sheer speed of the massage heads allow for a full body massage in around 10 minutes, saving you hours and money at a shop.
No extra purchases are necessary it all comes built and ready to roll, and can be used on every part of the body. You may need a bit of help with the back area though, unless you’re Stretch Armstrong.
Manufactured with ergonomic handles which have been attached at 90 degrees which makes it easier to handle and maneuver.
- Heavy Duty and Fan Cooled Machine
- Ergonomic Handles for Easy Maneuvering
- Full Body Massage in under 10 Minutes
4. Hypervolt Handheld Massage Device
Hypervolt is another brand with their own model of massage gun that works to relieve stiff muscles and reduce soreness.
One great feature of this model is the ‘Quiet Glide’ technology, as many cheap handheld massagers are insanely loud and annoying to use, you won’t have any issues using this around other people, they won’t want to attack you we promise.
With 3 speed settings, slow, medium and fast, you’re able to have different levels of massages during your treatment.
For tougher areas, you can hammer away at 3200 percussions a minute, or for more knotted areas put it on slow and give it a thorough going over.
Totally cordless and comes with a free rechargeable battery that provides up to 3 hours of treatment per chars, obviously depending on whether you use the fast setting for the whole 3 hours, it may be reduced.
- 3200 Strokes Per Minute
- 3 hours per charge
- Quiet Glide Technology
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5. VYBE Personal Percussion Massager
For a percussion massager under $200 this sure does a great job of massaging to a high quality.
However, if you’re easily discomforted by loud, vibrating noises then perhaps opt for the Thergaun or TimTam options, this gets pretty loud.
We like to think the loudness is the sign of a powerful percussion, so it depends if it’s for light use or beastly athletes.
We like the variety in the massage tips, they have different sized heads, standard and large for small and big muscle groups, like thighs and back.
Then the cone shaped head is perfect for deep tissue massages, great at getting out those tight knots.
Racking up to 2400 strokes per minute at full speed, they also have 6 speed settings to choose from, and with each setting the stroke genuinely feels like a percussion as opposed to a strong vibration.
The company has backed it with a 1 year warranty and also a 30 day money-back guarantee in case you aren’t satisfied.
- 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Capable of Deep Tissue Massaging
- 2400 RPM over 6 Speeds
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6. Jigsaw Massager for Athletes
A great percussion massager that has gained notoriety around the world since the wave began not so long ago.
Jigsaw massagers are growing in popularity and are ideal for all parts of the body, from your calves and thighs to your back and butt!
Now we will say off the bat, unlike the Hypervolt model, this is definitely a LOUD massager, so you have been warned. But if you want proper relief with strong percussions, this is an ideal choice for full relief.
It comes with the territory and just something we have to live with.
Fully cordless and battery-powered so you can pack it in your gym bag and use it on the go, or at home, wherever is convenient.
Packed full of features such as 6 speed settings, double the standard of 3 settings, at the highest setting it reaches an RPM of 2600, which is respectable as the vibration goes deep.
- 2600 Strokes Per Minute
- 6 Speed Settings
- Economical Price
When to Use a Percussive Massager?
It is generally believed to use one in the mornings after your stretching has been done, as you will be warmed up slightly and more receptive to the pulses. Additionally, if you need to get more use out of them you can use it after your workouts when you are winding down. Simplistically you can just replace your usual massage with a percussive session, done yourself or by a friend.
How to Use a Percussive Massager?
You just run a treatment over your body, focusing on problem areas more than less problematic areas. If an area of tissue needs extra work, concentrate the pulses down around consistently. This will speed up the bloody flow and break down the muscle fibers, allowing for more flexibility, less stiffness and soreness.
Where to Buy a Percussion Massager?
With the wave of popularity, they are available worldwide, they can be found at niche massage shops and professional therapy clinics. However, they might slap a premium on here for good measure and to cover expenses. I personally prefer online shopping as I can easily compare the prices of nearly every brand available, also compare features, sizes/weight etc. Also, most e-commerce platforms offer free shipping with products of this value.
What are the Benefits of a Percussion Massager?
As mentioned on the Joe Rogan podcast, there are a ton of health benefits to using a handheld massager. Let’s look into them briefly.
- dissipates lactic acid, which leads to cramping when built up
- can help energize muscle growth
- can speed up the process of recovery in muscles
- allows the muscle to stretch during treatment slightly
- promotes stronger blood flow into the muscle tissue
- reduces pain in the soft tissue areas
- restores motion in movement, range of motion
Studies have been done, like this one in a sports journal, discussing the ‘sweet-spot’ time where we can use massagers for best sports performance. Here are some of the additional benefits they found during their research.
- Better moods and a reduction in depressive moods
- Reduction in cortisol volume
- Less pain in the shoulders and lower back areas
- A renewed perception in one’s ability to recover and the recovery time
- Better flexibility found in neck and shoulder movements
The results found in the journal were taken from a variety of different massages.
However, it is also believed that a massage from a strong percussion device can reveal a similar effect.
And at a much lower price than professional sessions at a clinic, you can just do it yourself at the dojo, gym or home.
Percussion vs Vibration Massagers
There is a difference that must be noted before deciding on one of these or a vibration massager.
Percussion massagers are for the warriors out there, who put their bodies through the mill and feel the pain afterward. Because they massage into the tissue deeply, you will gain a genuine benefit in recovery time, soreness and stiffness.
Vibration massagers, on the other hand, are more for the comfort seekers out there. You won’t get a lot of benefit physically, but mentally it will absolutely promote relaxation, relieve stress and soothe your body temporarily. A great way to unwind after a long week, however it won’t get you back training again any faster.
We love these devices and definitely will be using them continuously moving forward. I have really stiff hamstrings and they are helping me to work out the stiffness, slowly but surely. I can already touch my toes easily, but will continue to get more from it with frequent sessions.
A time saving modern therapy device that really works.
We would love to hear from you the readers.
Has it helped you to become more limber?
Did you find the treatment soothing or painful?
How often did you use them and what benefit did you feel?
Drop a comment below and let us know what you think.