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.
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.
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.
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.
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.