When the initial excitement around Theragun kicked off, I wasn’t too fazed. Would I really use a handheld massager at home? Do I have enough aches and pains to warrant dropping that kind of money on a massage gun? I decided no, and no.
Fast-forward a few years and I was offered the opportunity to review the Theragun PRO; an experience that would force me to eat my formerly nonchalant words.
If you’re new to the Theragun world, this range of percussive massage therapy devices was developed after Therabody founder Dr. Jason Wersland became injured in a motorcycle accident and needed something to help manage his pain.
The devices that saw the brand skyrocket in popularity, and success, have been designed around reducing muscle soreness, improving mobility, and increasing relaxation.
For my review, I gave the Theragun PRO a test run. This particular model boasts a rotating arm, OLED screen, two swappable batteries, five hours of battery life, wireless charging and five foam attachments. Not too shabby.
The experience is seamless from the point of opening up the box. I found the set-up process really simple; it was very easy to follow. The packaging of the device is also incredibly clean, which meant searching for different parts was a breeze.
I took out one of the batteries and popped it on charge overnight before giving the gun a go.
Being that it was my first time using the massager, I chose to set the speed to its lowest calibration, 1750. Anything higher was too intense for me. The lowest setting, I found, was powerful enough that I felt the device kneading out any sore points in my muscles.
Using the Theragun post-workout, or a couple of days post-workout, very obviously did my body a lot of good right away. I felt a significant difference in muscle tightness, and the pain I’d usually shrug off after a training session was being considerably reduced. I achieved this by holding the gun against tender body parts for about 30 seconds – even if it was uncomfortable.
Over the past few months, I’ve really put this baby to work after I started exploring my NSW local government area during lockdown. Turns out, days spent walking 20km in distance (within my 5-kilometre radius, don’t worry) aren’t too kind on my knees and hips. On days where I’ve overdone it and found myself literally limping around my apartment, the Theragun has been a godsend.
I would use the gun on my quads, glutes and hamstrings for 20 minutes at a time and the agony would subside. Yes, using the massager on tight muscles made me want to cry at times, but I can’t even explain the level of relief it offered afterwards. I’ve grown to rely on it somewhat – though I do try and avoid those big walking days where I can now.
The most relaxed I’ve felt in months
I had a positive experience with my sore muscles, sure. But where I found the Theragun’s performance really stood out to me was when I started using it before bed.
I was told by the Therabody team that “Theragun’s unique combination science creates a deep, effective treatment that, when used the right way, actually downregulates your autonomic nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. Essentially flipping on the ‘recovery switch’ to your body promoting more restful sleep to repair and restore the body”.
At the time I started using the Theragun I was (conveniently) having a pretty crappy sleep experience. When I began using the massage gun before hitting the pillow, I was shocked at how quickly my body responded.
Over the course of a few weeks I began running the device over my forearms, feet, calves and hamstrings (oh man, the hamstrings) for about one minute each before bed. Every time I did this, my body felt like a soft pile of mush afterwards, and I slept like a log. I was honestly gobsmacked each time I experienced it.
Another major plus for me was how long the battery lasted. The description of the device says you get about five hours of battery time, and because I only ever used the Theragun for a few minutes at a time, that lasted weeks for me.
What’s not so good?
Look, these devices are not cheap. If you’d like to get your hands on one, you’re looking at a minimum of $349 for the Theragun mini massager. The Theragun PRO retails at $899 (though admittedly, it is currently on sale for $855). For a lot of people, that is a big investment.
In saying that, though, if you’re often getting professional massages for $100 (or more) a pop because your shoulders are tight, maybe it’s worth it?
Punch your body better
The other element I didn’t love was how intense the massage is from the moment you turn the device on. It feels like a blur of sharp punches and I couldn’t handle anything above the lowest setting. Maybe that makes me a weakling, but it can feel aggressive if you just want to quickly knead out a sore calf muscle. Some of this, I admit, can be addressed by using a gentler attachment, however.
I also found the Theragun to be a little loud. It’s not something you can really use while watching an episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, but the noise level is not to the point where I’d be dissuaded from using the device. And it’s certainly not noticeably louder than other massage guns.
I am an absolute convert. Yes, it’s expensive and sure it’s a powerful massage, but using the Theragun PRO has made a very clear difference to my sleep quality, in addition to helping reduce post-workout muscle pain.
It’s like carrying your very own physio in a suitcase, and I can’t imagine living without one now.
This article has been updated since its original publish date to include comments regarding using the Theragun PRO during Sydney’s lockdown.