If you are looking for a thorough and comparative review of the various massagers from Therabody (company behind Theragun), then you have landed on the right page!
Officially launching its first product in 2016, the company has quickly become very popular and commercially successful.
Unlike many other electronic massage devices created in the past, the “massage guns” from Theragun have proven to work well and the positive feedback is overwhelming!
In fact, the popularity that these massagers have gotten has created a wave of companies trying to capitalize on this trend by creating similar products.
Some of these are more copycats than others, but you can be sure that you are getting the best quality products with Therabody.
In addition, the company is investing a significant amount of resources into continuous research and development of their products to provide the best percussive therapy.
The company now has various patents and pending patents in major markets, and their current product line consists of four products: Theragun Pro, Theragun Elite, Theragun Prime, and Theragun Mini.
These all belong to the fourth generation of products by Therabody, but it is the first time that they offer four distinctive products.
In this review, I will be taking a close look at all three and discuss why or why not they could be worth spending your hard-earned money on.
Summarizing Comparison Table
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Theragun Pro Review – The “Ferrari” of Massage Guns
The Theragun Pro is the most powerful of all the massagers from Theragun. It is made of durable plastic and powered by an industrial-grade Japanese motor.
It has speed options between 2400 – 1740 percussions per minute (40 or 29 percussions per second) and a stall force of 60lbs / 27 kg, which means the maximum force the device can sustain before its speed is reduced to 0.
Like all the massagers, it got a stroke length of 0.6″ / 16 mm. In other words, this is the distance traveled from full retraction to extension (a.k.a. amplitude).
The product comes with 6 different attachments/massage heads. Together with the adjustable arm that can rotate 90-degree, you can customize and reach various spots on your body with ease.
It has a mini OLED display showing among other things battery life and a force meter, which will give you real-time feedback of the force being applied. The massager connects with bluetooth to your smartphone with a special app.
The Theragun Pro has 2 strong lithium-ion batteries that are removable and each with a battery life of 150 minutes. Because the charger is capable of fully recharging a battery in about 75 minutes, you can use the massager for very long periods.
The new QuiteForce technology has significantly reduced operational noise, making it relatively silent.
It will reach a noise of approximately 65 – 70 decibels depending on the speed setting.
Check out the Theragun Pro in action in the video below.
What Is New In The Theragun Pro?
The Theragun Pro is the fourth iteration and a lot of improvements have been made.
In case you are wondering, here is a short summary:
- The design got a complete overhaul. Theragun Elite and Prime also use this new design.
- New gearbox design reducing the noise by up to 55%
- Stronger batteries with extended battery life.
- More massage heads are now included
- Increased adjustability to the angle of the massager
- It got a little bit heavier weighing in at 9 lbs / 1.3 kg.
- OLED Scren with force meter
- Smart phone app integration
Theragun Elite Review – The “Ford Mustang” Equivalent
Not as sophisticated in its capabilities or long-lasting, the Theragun Elite is the high-tier massage gun from Therabody.
It is made to fit everyday users, professionals and athletes who need the power and advanced features of the Pro, but maybe not all of them. The massage arm has a fixed angle and can’t be adjusted.
Theragun Pro vs Elite – both have a stroke lengths of 0.6″ / 16 mm, speed options between 1740 – 2400 RPM. However, the Theragun Elite won’t take the same amount of load since its stall force is 40 lbs / 18 kg.
Like the Pro, It also has a OLED mini display and a force meter. It connects with bluetooth to your smartphone with a special app.
showing among other things battery life and a force meter, which will give you real-time feedback of the force being applied.
The less powerful motor does come with one benefit; the Theragun Elite emits less noise. All handheld percussion massagers are in general quite noisy, and the Theragun Elite reaches approximately 60 – 65 decibels depending on the speed setting
It has a built-in battery with a battery life of 120 minutes.
It comes with five massage heads/attachments which are compatible with the Pro.
Theragun Prime Review – The Budget-friendly Version (“Volvo Sedan”)
Theragun Prime covers all the essentials you look for in a quality-oriented, general purpose massager.
Many of the features seen in the other models have been removed in order to lower production cost, and by doing so the company can offer the model at a much more competitive price.
The machine can still give you a good massage and has the same stroke length, as well as RPM. Tts built-in lithium-ion battery will last about 120 minutes.
The massage arm has a fixed angle and the Prime can sustain a maximum force of 30 lbs / 13.5 kg.
The rpime is silent and only produces 55 – 60 decibels when operating.
It comes with four massage head attachments. The Prime has no display but does come with bluetooth and can connect to your smartphone with a special app.
Theragun Mini Review – The Minimalistic Massager
Therabody has proven its commitment towards developing new technology, researching improvements and giving their customers better products.
The Theragun Mini is the latest product of their intentions to introduce a massager for everybody. True to its name, the Mini is a highly compact, ultra-portable massager to-go that is your buddy for any occasion.
Weighing in at just 650 grams and measuring 6 in x 5.3 in x 2.25 in (15.2 cm x 13.5 cm x 7.7 cm), you can take it anywhere you go in its soft case.
The Mini has a stall force of just 20 pounds though. But with a mere 50 – 60 decibels when being opereated, its noise is so low that it is comparable to that of a phone vibrating.
See the Mini in action in the video below.
Comparison – Theragun Pro vs Elite vs Prime vs Mini
The 4 massagers all have a similar design and look except for the Mini.
The Theragun Pro is larger and weighs more than the Elite, which is larger than the Theragun Prime, and the Prime is much bigger and heavier than the mini.
However, the differences are not that big as you can see in the table below.
Theragun Pro vs Elite – Both machines have a lot of the same capabilities, and they both offer the same speed range. While the motor in the Elite is not as powerful as in the Pro, it does have the benefit of being a bit less noisy. If you want the 90-degree adjustability, that makes self-massage easier, then your only choice is the G3Pro. In terms of battery life, the Pro is the winner. Both have OLED displays, force meter and smartphone app integration.
Theragun Elite vs Prime – They have the massage arm set in a fixed angle. The Elite has 5 massage heads whereas Prime has 4. The motor in the Prime is not as powerful as in the Elite, however it does emit less noise. The Prime comes without OLED display and force meter.
Theragun Prime vs Mini – There isn’t much to compare here, as most of it is obvious. The Mini is highly compact and portable. This comes at the cost of lower stall force, 1 attachment, weaker motor and adjustability. However, it has a lower noise output and slightly longer battery life. The Prime has bluetooth and connects to your smartphone. The Mini can’t.
As mentioned above, all the Theragun massagers do make some noise while being operated. This is a common thing with handheld massage devices, and if the noise is a big concern I suggest you check get the Prime.
To make this more relatable, a normal conversation at a restaurant is about 60 decibels, and when you are speaking/whispering in the library it is around 40 decibels.
All Theragun massagers have built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, but with the Pro you get two powerful and removable batteries.
The Massage Heads Explained
The Theragun massagers come with a variety of different massage head attachments each design with a specific purpose(s).
The total number that is included in the purchase depends on the model, but they can also be bought separately.
Depending on which body part you are targeting and how sore/delicate that muscle tissue is, you can choose the right attachment for the job.
The “dampener” and “standard ball” are your go-to options for general use. While the dampener is good tender or bony areas, the standard ball is a good choice for treatment during a workout.
The “large ball” is designed for large muscle groups like the quads and glutes, and the “wedge” can work your shoulder blade and IT bands.
For increased accuracy, you can use the “thumb” for trigger point therapy or the lower back. With the “cone” you gain even more precision and it is great for targetting smaller muscle areas and trigger points.
The “supersoft” attachment is perfect for giving sensitive areas a hard massage without irritating them.
All attachments are antimicrobial, non-porous, and hygienic. If you apply lotion or essential oils or if you sweat, all can be wiped away easily.
Above you see the attachments that are included in the purchase. All massage guns come with a travel case, with the Pro and Elite having a protective carrying case and the Prime and Mini having a soft one.
All Theragun massagers come with a 1-year warranty. 2-year warranty in an EU country.
Bottom Line – Choosing The Right Massager
The Pro comes with two interchangeable batteries that each have 150 minutes of battery life, but unless you need to use the massager very often or for long periods, I doubt it will be necessary.
Most people will be looking at 10-20 minutes of massage, and then both the Elite and Prime have more than enough battery life.
With that being said, the extra force in the Theragun Pro could be useful to make quick work of thick muscle tissue like large thighs, e.g. if you squat a lot.
The Theragun Prime is a good option if you don’t need a lot of deep tissue massage, e.g. you are mostly looking to massage your sore upper back and neck that you get from working long hours at the office.
The Mini is the massager to go for if you need one anytime. It is perfect for people having some chronic problem or a long-term issue which requires treatment. It can be carries easily and has a long serviceable life on a single charge.
Do The Theragun Massagers Really Work?
I want to start off by saying that there is an overwhelming amount of positive anecdotal evidence that these handheld percussion massagers work.
By “work” I mean that they help alleviate sore muscles and can be used to reduce recovery time in athletes (both pros and amateurs).
This does not just apply for the Theraguns, but also many of their competitors like the TimTam or the Pure Wave.
I have tried them myself and it does truly feel like they work. First of all, using them on sore muscles feel great, but it also makes me more excited about working out again because I feel less sore.
With that being said, you might be surprised to know that the research on the topic is surprisingly vague and it is something that affects massage in general and not just these machines.
In fact, when looking to the scientific evidence it is not clear at all how massage “works” or to what extent. Furthermore, many of the claims you will read online are nonsense!
In my opinion, these are the most notable effects that evidence suggests:
- It could help alleviate delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Read more about it here (meta-analysis).
- Potentially speed up muscle recovery and performance due to the so-called myofascial-release. Read more about it here(meta-analysis).
- Could make you happier and more relaxed by decreasing cortisol and increasing the level of the two neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
If you have small to moderate issues e.g. tight neck and upper back, using a massager could spare you from going to a masseuse, physical therapist or chiropractor.
And if your issues are worse than that, the massager could perhaps help you recover faster and make the treatments less frequent or fewer.
From that perspective, getting one of these massagers from Theragun could prove a cost-effective alternative since visiting a professional clinic quickly adds up!
Who Can Benefit From These Products?
In the typical marketing material from Theragun (and their competitors), you will either see the massage device(s) being used by:
- athletes or other performance professionals like dancers or actors, or
- physical therapists, massage therapists or chiropractors.
There is definitely a “professional kind of vibe” behind the Theragun products, and there is the fact that these two groups are qualified users, however, the massager still works by alleviating sore and overworked muscles.
In my opinion, it should not really matter whether your sore muscles are a result of exercising extra hard or working long hours at the desk.
It might be both, which I think is true for many people.
Since we are all spending so much time sitting down working or studying at computers, I would argue that everyone could benefit from getting one of these easy-to-use massagers.
Let me ask you this question: when was the last time you felt sore around your neck or upper back?
Looking At Your Phone, Stress, and Overexertion
A lot of us get sore around the upper back and neck!
There are a couple of reasons that might explain why, but typically it is due to the many hours we sit down and focus on things in front of us, like computers, books, televisions, smartphones, etc.
The result is that we tend to lean forward and hunch over. Sometimes people even do that while standing up.
This will put a strain on your body, it tightens muscles in your hip, neck, and back. It leads to soreness and in worse cases muscle pain, cramps, and bad headaches.
In addition, most of us have busy and stressful lives. Overexertion and stress will also tighten up the muscles, in particular in your upper body.
While getting a massage is not the solution, it can definitely provide a great deal of relief, and it might have other benefits which I will discuss below.
You can always beg your better half for a back and neck rub (which I often do), but that will rarely get you enough in my experience 🙂 This is where the Theraguns comes in handy for an easy “point-and-shoot” percussive therapy.