If you follow fitness and wellness influencers on social media, you’ve likely seen very loud, power drill doppelgänger devices like the TheraGun in action or the TimTam Power Massager. Ditto if you frequent recovery spots like Stretch*d, recently opened by a team of fitness entrepreneurs including SLT founder Amanda Freeman, that sells the Hypervolt and even uses it in sessions. These devices, marketed for at-home use, are said to help with full body recovery and pain relief via their use of “percussive massage therapy.”
“We absolutely love these tools!” Stretch*d’s Vanessa Chu says. “We use the Hypervolt as an add-on to a stretch session. It’s amazing for relaxing areas that are particularly problematic, making them less tense and more open for a stretch. It really works hand in hand with our stretch work. By delivering 3,200 percussions per minute, it works unlike any non-machine-based tool or service can.”
Chu and Freeman say that devices like the Hypervolt, TimTam or TheraGun can be effective recovery tools when used on their own or in combination with something like Stretch*d’s services. “They help break up adhesions in the muscles that can develop over time, which can lead to pain and discomfort. The nice thing about these devices is that they really can be self-administered and you feel the results immediately.” The duo even says using them is a fun bonding experience. “We’re hosting a Hypervolt couples’ workshop next month to teach people how to work on each other properly!”
Trainers agree. Rumble‘s Ashley Wilking calls TheraGun “a game changer in the wellness industry.” The best part, she says, is that it isn’t just used for workout recovery — you can benefit from using it before, during and after your workout. “Static stretching puts strain on a muscle and asks it to ‘let go’ and extend more, whereas TheraGun uses percussive therapy — concentrated, rapid and short pulses into the muscle to activate the muscle before and during a workout, which, in turn, allows it to stretch.”
So how long should you be using these devices to benefit from their effects? According to TheraGun founder and chiropractor Dr. Jason Wersland, 30 seconds per muscle group to activate the body prior to working out. “This helps increase blood flow in the body, increases mobility and activates and stimulates your neuromuscular system.” During a workout, he says, 15 seconds will help address fatigue and reactivate the muscles being used. Post-workout use these devices for a minimum of two minutes per muscle group.
“After around two minutes of use, the central nervous system is desensitized, calm and relaxed. This minimum of two-minute timing allows the vibration to soothe or calm the body and to move some of the buildup of post-exercise toxins that often lead to sore, tight muscles.”
Wersland adds that while each duration listed is associated with working out, you can apply these steps to your day as well. “If you’re looking for stimulation or quick pain relief, follow the 30-second or 15-second treatment — if you are winding down after a long day, go for the minimum of two minutes.”
It’s important to note, however, that these devices should be thought of as effective (if not the most effective) ways to self-massage, but they’re not a replacement for treatment if you have an actual injury, despite what price tags of up to $599 may lead you to believe. It’s also worth mentioning that despite these devices being seriously loud, they’re totally painless.
If you’re looking for something less expensive, vibrating foam rollers are a thing now, too. TimTam’s Tom Frazier also points out that they’re increasing in popularity because they’re a less intimidating introduction to vibration therapy, given the awareness of the foam roller. TimTam makes a number of them, including ball-shaped ones.
“Vibration is a great way to relax the muscles and we are all about foam rollers,” admit Freeman and Chu. “If you’re going to take the time to foam roll, you may as well get twice as much out of your session with a vibrating one.” That said, while these rollers will help loosen tight and sore muscles, they won’t reach deeper muscles the way the aforementioned self-massage devices will.