This massage gun may have interchangeable batteries and versatile grip options, but the price makes it a hard sell for the everyday gym-goer
- Beautifully designed
- Versatile multi-grip handle
- Intuitive app and guidance
- Dynamic, customised routines
- Dual batteries for continuous use
- Noisier and £170 more than main rival
- Offers similar features as next model down
Therabody (formerly Theragun) is to percussive therapy devices what Peloton is to indoor spin bikes. Since 2008, the Californian company has been creating many of the best massage guns and says its pioneering devices can reduce muscle pain, accelerate recovery after exercise, boost range of motion and even improve sleep quality.
Its experts point to a 2021 study (opens in new tab), which found percussive therapy to be more efficient than foam rolling, and able to deliver the equivalent of 15 minutes of manual therapy massage in just two minutes. All its devices are calibrated to fire at 40 times per second at maximum speed and reach 60% deeper into the muscle than average massagers.
The top-end Theragun PRO, with double the battery life of previous generations and a third more force output, is pitched at elite-level athletes – and priced accordingly. At £174 more than the next Theragun model down, and £170 more than its closest rival, the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro, the question is: what exactly does that extra money buy?
On first inspection, that extra cash buys a beautifully designed, evenly balanced, pleasingly tactile device. The PRO’s matte black body is interrupted only by flashes of blue neon, and it comes in an equally premium all-black carry case, with inset foam padding to hold it in place and an extra battery cartridge.
At 2.9lb (1.3kg), the PRO is slightly heavier and bulkier than the Elite and Prime models, yet it retains Theragun’s triangular shape, which has come a long way since company founder Jason Wersland’s prototype, which looked part-pneumatic drill, part-hand mixer. The three-way handle helps target hard to reach areas, such as your mid and upper back, while providing more grip options to reduce strain on your hands, wrists and arms.
The gun has the same in-built speeds as the Elite: 1,750, 1,900, 2,100, 2,200 and 2,400 percussions per minute (PPM). A tap of its cleverly positioned button, just below an OLED display, cycles through these options, and you can customise three further speed settings within this range if those don’t hit the spot.
The PRO’s stand-out feature is its dual external batteries. The Elite requires a charge once its 2.5 hours of juice runs out, but the PRO’s batteries are removable and interchangeable. Each 16V rechargeable lithium-ion battery runs for 150 minutes, and only takes 75 minutes to charge, so you can top up one while using the other for virtually continual all-day use.
One button on the front of the gun releases the cartridge for rapid reloading, while another button unlocks the PRO’s second upgrade: an adjustable arm. This allows the barrel of the gun to be set in four positions, in an arc covering roughly 100˚. It sounds clever, but I rarely found the need to switch, given the versatility of its grip.
A more impactful new feature is Therabody’s custom-built, commercial-grade QX150 motor. It delivers up to 60lb (27kg) of unwavering force, an extra 20lb (9kg) of oomph over the Elite, which perhaps explains its increased size and weight – and suitability for ultra-muscular specimens.
All that extra horsepower does have its downsides. When run at its highest and lowest settings, the PRO drowns out the Hypervolt 2 Pro in an audio comparison test. That meant I was banished to the spare room if I wanted to use my Theragun for a pre-bed routine and running it while watching Netflix was – in my wife’s words – “out of the question”.
Along with its carry case and extra cartridge, the PRO comes with a compact charging stand and small pouch for its six head attachments. These include the standard ball, dampener, thumb, cone, wedge and a new supersoft attachment, supposedly preferred by older users to treat sensitive injuries like tennis elbow.
To help customers make the most of their expensive new toy, Therabody offers a complimentary percussive therapy digital course, taught by Theragun Master Trainers, with every purchase of the PRO, Elite or Prime models. More casual users will find the dedicated Therabody app more practical.
The app integrates with Apple Health, Google Fit and Strava to create customised routines based on your recent activity. You can also log ailments and challenges such as back pain, tech neck or poor sleep, and the Bluetooth-enabled app will coach you through each session, highlighting the optimum grip, force, frequency and technique you should use for each muscle.
While the range of routines means there should be something for everybody, I was disappointed that only two catered specifically for running: one six-minute lower-body warm-up drill and one 13-minute run-recovery session. Regressions and progressions for each routine would be a welcome addition.
The Theragun PRO has a range of professional-grade features. Its limitless battery life, thanks to the interchangeable 16V cartridges, and versatile multi-grip handle will deliver tangible returns for serious athletes looking for marginal gains and massage therapists hoping to expand their repertoire of treatments. At £549 it is, however, a much harder sell for the everyday gym-goer or runner.
I felt much more confident using the massage gun than I have with rival brands due to its intuitive app and versatile triangular grip, and the pre-run and post-run routines quickly became a staple of my cardio workouts.
On the other hand, 2.5 hours of battery was more than enough for my sporadic use, rendering the secondary battery an expensive and unnecessary addition. I rarely found the need to switch the adjustable arm from its default position. And while it’s undeniably enjoyable to use – and pleasing to behold – the Theragun Elite (£375) and Prime (£275) offer similar features at more reasonable prices.
So, to answer my earlier question, that extra £174 buys you 2.5 hours more battery, 9kg more force, three more arm positions and one more head attachment. If your pockets are deep enough and you can’t envisage settling for second best, the exquisitely crafted Theragun PRO won’t disappoint. Paying for it might just sting a little.
Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix (opens in new tab). Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.
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