Review: Theragun Percussive Therapy Device Comparison

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Using a percussive massage device for pain relief had never previously been on my radar. A TENS device (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) was my go-to for a few years to address chronic pain in my shoulder from a 2011 injury, and it gave me the desired relief. However, @Stephen arrived at a ski house about 3 years ago with an Opove percussion massage gun that he had been using for recovery during dance competitions, and @Andy Mink immediately decided he needed one. (More on their experience and comparison to come). This type of device has traveled with us ever since, because Andy travels with us more often than not. I have used his occasionally but never quite fell in love with it. Fast forward to Christmas 2021. A house guest generously gifted me a Sharper Image Power Percussion Deep Tissue Massage gun. I started to do some research on how to optimize its use and became a bit more intrigued by its benefits. Now it's on my radar.

As things tend to happen in progression, a little over a month ago I was at a trade show where Jeff was demonstrating recovery products from Therabody™. I asked him how his product was different than the average massage gun. He had answers for everything, starting with demonstrating how the ergonomic triangle design offers more ways to hold and apply percussive therapy than the average massage gun. He asked me about some of my chronic aches and pains. The most recent issue for me has been plantar faciitis. He showed me several different methods to address the tight feeling in my calf and foot caused by PF after multiple days walking a trade show floor. The day after he showed me these methods of using the Theragun, I woke up to free movement in my ankles and walked to the trade show with ease. This piqued my interest in a big way.


The two Theraguns provided for this review are the Theragun Mini and Theragun Elite.

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Both the Elite and Mini Theraguns have QuietForce technology, which definitely makes them quieter than other devices I've used. Theragun Mini, with its packable size and quiet operation, is ideal for travel, or when you're hoping not to disturb your roommates or house companions.

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The Theragun Elite is what I'll be concentrating on, including many of its features that make it Elite.
First, upon opening the box, it was clearly a quality made product, with a handy carrying case that included separate compartments for the power charger and attachments. I wanted to make sure I had a good understanding about this tool, so I researched what some of the attachments were best suited for, downloaded the app, watched some tutorials, and toyed with all the settings.

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That is when the real work began. I pulled up the routines in the app, which I found invaluable as they take the guessing out of how and where to apply the massager, whether you're using it for warm up before a workout or recovery after putting your body through its paces.

I've used the Plantar Fasciitis routine on both feet and legs and also threw in the occasional Glute and IT band routine, all available on the app. The first few nights I also used the Sharper Image Power Percussion Deep Tissue Massager as a comparison. The Sharper Image unit had a similar effect regarding the massage, but the limitations of the handle compared to the ergonomic triangle on the Theragun Elite were clear. The Elite was much easier to maneuver in different positions and angles for optimimum massage therapy.

The third night I tried the Theragun Mini back-to-back with the Elite. The Mini does not have the bluetooth option for massage cycles, and due to its compact size, lacks the ergometric handle of the Elite. Without this handle, the grip of the mini was not as intuitive, but it was definitely easier to manage than the traditional handles found on most handheld massagers. Despite these differences, the quality of massage compared to the Elite was similar, but it was a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to hold it for optimization.

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With all the time spent looking at the computer screen during ski review writing season, I've been getting the usual crick in my neck. I found a routine, available on the app as well as in the videos on Therabody's website, called Tech Neck. This routine is designed to take the fatigue out of the muscles around your neck and shoulders that develop with too much screen time. One does not need to be a skier to benefit from this routine.

In the short time I've been using percussion therapy, I have become a believer in its recovery benefits. In the even shorter time I've been using the Theragun Elite and Mini, I am convinced that these routines on the app are going to have a positive impact on my overall muscle recovery while I go about my day-to-day activities. Is it worth the price to buy a Therabody product over other alternatives? After using different competitor’s models, I have come to the conclusion that the design, applications and routines that come with a Theragun are worth the added cost in the long run.

  • Why choose the Theragun Elite? Because you want a premium massager with multiple ways to grip and prepared routines to use with the app.
  • Insider tip: The Elite comes with a charging cord. Charging base station sold separately.
  • Why choose the Theragun Mini? Because you travel a lot and want a compact percussion massager.
  • Insider tip: If you don't get the massager with the bluetooth app, check out the videos on their website.
  • One thing I would change: I would like to see at least one extra attachment provided with the Mini.

*During this long term review we have a few testers who are checking out the Mini.
About author
Tricia
Pugski Tester Tricia
Height: 5'6"

Weight: 135 lb

Years skiing: 30+

Days per year: 75+

Home mountains: Mt Rose, Squawlpine Meadows, Arapahoe Basin

Preferred terrain: Trees, of course, but making tracks in fresh corduroy brings a smile to my face, too.

Skiing style: Finesse

Preferred ski characteristics: I like a ski that is strong enough to hold an edge but soft enough to bend with some energy and feedback.

Boots: K2 Anthem Pro 120, Lange RS Purple Haze Heritage Boot

About me: "Do what you love, love what you do" are the words I live by. Skiing became my passion from the moment I turned 18; a little over 25 years later, I moved to the Lake Tahoe Basin to make skiing my life and career. Along with helping skiers face to face, I am the site manager and owner here on pugski.com and review product for various manufacturers, both hardgoods and softgoods as well as work with manufacturer focus groups to help improve ski gear for women.

Replies

Long term update: Since writing this full review I have spent some time using the Theragun Elite after hot tubbing and have noticed improved benefits.
 
Long term update:
While staying in the condo at the Gathering I have been using the Theragun on my IT band and calves in the morning before getting ready to ski because @migdriver shared some information about the benefits of using to warm up as an alternative to recovery. So far my legs and feet are really feeling great and I'm even more of a believer than I was before.
 
The Theragun Mini kept my legs and feet going nine days straight during my trip to Uzbekistan. The relief I felt after a hard day skinning and skiing was monumental. I also used the Mini to warm up before heading out. I honestly believe I couldn’t have skied/toured that much without the Theragun. I won’t leave home without it again.
 
Having both a Mini and a Pro myself, I concur that they are great tools. I am traveling with the Pro right now in Whistler (where I am skiing both alpine and Nordic) and enjoy using it on my calves, quads, and neck and shoulders.

I wanted to add that you can use the app with the Mini just as well as with the Bluetooth enabled models. You will be guided through the routines all the same, but the app won't be able to control the Mini (speed, start, and stop) or display force feedback. That is fine. I found the app valuable with the Mini before I also bought a Pro.
 
I like this one (though I don't start with the 100, I save them for later in the sequence). Also this one (minus the balls because clearly I don't travel with that stuff).
I also go through my own sequence, starting with bridging, stretching with a yoga strap, clam shells.
 
I like this one (though I don't start with the 100, I save them for later in the sequence). Also this one (minus the balls because clearly I don't travel with that stuff).
I also go through my own sequence, starting with bridging, stretching with a yoga strap, clam shells.
Ooooh I'm adding that first link to my daily routine!! Thanks for sharing.
 
Long term update:
I got lazy about my daily stretches and Theragun while on a recent trip to Snowmass.
During the ride back to Reno my back was tightening up and I was finding it difficult to do the most menial of tasks like putting my socks on.
Just the past two days I've been doing the Theragun and have added the first video of Pilates that @Teppaz posted above and woke up today with no lower back issues.

Making these two things a part of my routine is essential.

*I believe the Pilates routine is more effective than the daily back stretches I was doing.*
 
Happy it's working out for you! I have lower-back issues too and this Pilates routine has been great. Works for tennis as well.
 
Happy it's working out for you! I have lower-back issues too and this Pilates routine has been great. Works for tennis as well.
Do you have a percussive therapy tool?
 
I wanted to add that you can use the app with the Mini just as well as with the Bluetooth enabled models. You will be guided through the routines all the same, but the app won't be able to control the Mini (speed, start, and stop) or display force feedback. That is fine. I found the app valuable with the Mini before I also bought a Pro.
This is good information.
@Ron @Drahtguy Kevin and @Wendy may want to try it out. I enjoy using the routines on the app. Quite effective.
 
Update:
I'm having issues with my Theragun charging. While its on the charging stand, it says its 100%, but I take it off the stand and it won't turn on. When I put it back on the stand, it says the battery is 0%.
Same thing with the ac cord as well as the charging base they sent with it.

I contacted Therabody to see if it can help me trouble shoot but haven't heard back from them other than their request to send me the order # and serial # for possible warranty exchange.

I have been searching some articles about how to properly charge percussive therapy guns and realize that I was liekly damaging the battery by leaving it on the charging stand while I wasn't using it.

I wonder if there is a way to reset the battery on something like this.
Any insights from the community?
 
Long term update:
They sent me a replacement Theragun Elite under warranty. I'm extremely pleased with Therabody's customer service.
 
My Mini has been getting a workout the past couple of weeks. I tweaked my back and the Mini is about the only relief I get. Fast, effective and ohhhhhh so good.
 

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