The massage gun niche has gotten very crowded in the last few years. When Theragun officially launched in 2016, it revolutionized the percussive massage industry. It was a novel take on the standard massage, one that doesn’t need the help of a masseuse to do. Since then, many other massage gun brands have popped up. With so many options available now, which massage gun is the best? Is Theragun still the “gold standard” of massage guns, or is there a new king of the hill?
Percussive therapy is a technique used primarily to soothe sore muscles. You’ve probably seen the videos on social media – muscles rippling as a power tool-looking device delivers bursts of pounding pressure into tissues. This pummeling motion is designed to relax tight muscles and improve blood flow, thereby relieving the soreness. It’s also been proven to help in the reduction of inflammation and improvement of muscle function.
Initially introduced as a tool for athletes, virtually anyone experiencing muscle pain can actually use a massage gun. But how do you know what massage gun to buy? What’s the best massage gun in Australia right now? For this review, we compared the widely-acknowledged leader of the pack, Theragun, and relative newcomer, Hydragun.
Before we go into an in-depth review, let’s go over the massage gun basics. As already mentioned, massage guns all pretty much look the same. That is, they look like power drills. Except instead of drill bits, they come with attachment heads that deliver the punches into muscles. The key elements to look for in a massage gun are:
- Battery Life
Speed refers to how fast a massage gun delivers the punches to muscles. Amplitude is how deep those punches are. Together, speed and amplitude determine how much power a massage gun has. You want a device that can give you a deep tissue massage as needed, but is also flexible enough to offer lighter, relaxing massages.
Portability, of course, is important because let’s face it. You’re getting this device to lug around, either at home or the gym. Otherwise, you’d just get a massage at a spa. So what you want is a massage gun that is easy to tote around. That means one that doesn’t weigh an arm and a leg (because who wants the extra work out after you’ve actually done the work out?) A carrying case is also ideal.
Finally, most massage guns in the market come with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The average battery life is 2-3 hours on a single charge.
Some secondary factors to consider are:
- Design – Is the massage gun designed to be easy to use? Is the material durable?
- Noise Level – Will using this device attract the attention of the entire gym? Does it sound like you’re actually drilling something?
- Warranty – What sort of coverage is included? Is the company reputable? How responsive is their customer support?
Now that you know what to look for, let’s get on with it.
Theragun has several different models of massage gun available. For this review, we’re going to focus on the latest model, the Theragun PRO. This was released early 2020.
We’re comparing it against the Hydragun. The Singapore-based company recently launched in Australia and has only one model available for now.
What do you get with every purchase?
- Theragun PRO device
- Carrying case
- 6 Attachment Heads – supersoft, dampener, standard ball, wedge, thumb, cone
- Travel Pouch (for the attachments)
- 2 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Battery Charger
- 2-Year Warranty
Retail price: $899
- Hydragun device
- Carrying case
- 6 Attachment Heads – 4 Regular (Ball, Flat, Bullet, Fork) and 2 Stainless Steel (Flat, Round)
- Battery Charger
Hydragun includes a free universal adapter for countries that do not use UK-type, 3-pin plugs.
Retail price: $399
You’ll notice right off that the Hydragun costs less than half the Theragun price. Let’s see how it stacks up performance-wise.
What We Love
Both the Theragun and the Hydragun promise to help with workout recovery. They’re supposed to relieve muscle tension, relieve soreness, help with warming up and cooling down, soothe pain, help with relaxation and all the other benefits that massage can give.
To be perfectly honest, both these devices can do all those. Using any of the two devices for a few minutes before working out did help loosen muscles. Coupled with some light stretching, you’d find some improvement in your range of motion. They were also great to use after working out and on active rest days. They did help with recovery time. The period when your muscles are achy definitely became a bit shorter. It’s fantastic after leg days, too.
Now that we know both massage guns work as advertised, which one did the job better?
First off, let’s talk power. The Theragun has 5 built-in speeds – 1750, 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2400 percussion per minute. However, the device can be connected via Bluetooth to the Theragun app and it will allow you to choose any speed within the 1750-2400ppm range. The device amplitude is 16mm.
In comparison, the Hydragun comes with 6 speed settings, ranging from 1200-3200ppm. It has no Bluetooth capability. It comes with an 11mm amplitude.
So, the Theragun can provide a deeper penetration into muscle tissues compared to the Hydragun. However, the Hydragun allows for a better range of customization because it has a wider range of speed settings.
If you’re the type who typically goes for deep tissue massages, the Theragun is the best bet. But if you prefer more variety, especially for days when muscle soreness is very bad, the Hydragun’s lower settings are a lifesaver.
Getting a Move On
Our second criteria is portability. In this case, it must be mentioned that while both massage guns do come with carrying cases, the Theragun’s case is boxy and is only enough to fit the actual device. It does come with a pouch to put the attachments in, though.
Meanwhile, the Hydragun’s carrying case is sleeker. It fits the massage gun itself, all the attachment heads and the charger. There are depressions in the inside of the case that are the exact shape of everything inside so they don’t go flying all over the place when you carry it.
For portability, we think the Hydragun has the Theragun beat.
A massage gun is supposed to be a convenient device. You don’t want one that needs to be charged constantly before you use it.
The Theragun battery can last up to 150 minutes (2.5 hours). But, it comes with an extra battery with the same capacity. In total, you can get up to 300 minutes (5 hours) of use.
The Hydragun does not come with a spare battery. But a single charge can last up to 6 hours. Granted, the charging time can take up to 3 hours.
Now it must be noted that you won’t need to use any of these devices for 5 or 6 hours straight. In fact, we strongly discourage using these in any single muscle area for more than 10-15 minutes. The battery juice is really something that should last you a number of days (unless several people are using the device). So we’ll judge this on the basis of convenience. On the one hand you have the Theragun that lasts 5 hours, but you have 2 batteries that need to be charged separately. On the other hand is the Hydragun with no extra batteries but one single charge gives 6 hours of use. Which one would you choose? Yeah, we chose the Hydragun, too.
With the main features out of the way, let’s talk about the extras.
The Theragun design is very distinctive. While it still looks a bit like a power tool, its triangular base separates it from all the other devices in the market today. It feels very sturdy. It also feels quite like the premium device it is. One edge that this design has is it allows for flexibility with holds. For hard to reach areas like the back, the ergonomic handle is quite handy. It also helps that the attachment heads can be adjusted into 4 different angles. Because the Theragun is a hefty 3.1lbs, the way the handle was designed helped with ease of use.
What is a little off-putting about it though is the noise. Despite being marketed as one of the quietest Theragun models available, it’s still rather loud. It certainly sounds like a power drill in use.
The lighter Hydragun (only 2.3lbs!) is more static in its design. For one, it looks much like you’d expect a gun to look. The attachment heads cannot be angled differently. However, one plus point is the handle is angled 99-degrees instead of 90-degrees. We found that this slight adjustment made for a more natural hold. It didn’t strain the wrist as much as a regular right angle might.
The Hydragun, according to their website, is made of Aerospace-Grade Aluminium. We’re not quite sure what exactly that means but suffice to say it does have a nice finish and also looks very durable. But what we particularly like is the nano-silicon-wrapped handle. It’s soft enough to hold but isn’t slippery even when our hands get sweaty.
In contrast to the Theragun, the Hydragun is so quiet. The website states it’s only 30-50db, just a tad louder than a whisper. It sounds unbelievable but we have held the Hydragun almost next to our ears when massaging our shoulder muscles and it is quiet.
So, the powerhouse that is the Theragun versus the promising Hydragun, which is the best?
For portability, battery life, customizability, noise level and make, we choose the Hydragun. It doesn’t hurt that its price point is more affordable than the Theragun.
Are massage guns worth it? Definitely. But even if you can afford the Theragun, why would you buy it when a more affordable massage gun can do everything it can just as well? With Theragun, it feels like you’re buying the name along with the features. With Hydragun, it feels like you’re actually getting all the features of a massage gun without having to shell out too much cash. And that’s certainly a win in our book.