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Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but recovery is a crucial part of the process. Managing and promoting muscle recovery after a workout can help you get the most out of your fitness routine, and it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. A massage gun can make a big difference in  and speeding up rehabilitation, and there’s a huge market out there to choose from.

Like many things, massage therapy became much less accessible during the pandemic, and the market for personal massage guns exploded to fill the void. There are tons of options out there when it comes to shopping for a new massage gun, and finding the best one for your needs can certainly be a challenge. So let’s break down the ins and outs (so to speak) of how these percussive massagers work and why they can be so helpful.

A massage gun uses the force of percussive therapy — also known as vibration therapy — to manipulate your body’s soft tissue. They’re essentially backed by the same  that as the optimal tool for treating a sore muscle after a workout. From recreational gym-goers to  and people with chronic pain, a lot of people love percussive therapy from these powerful massagers.

Percussive therapy has been shown to  while reducing muscle pain, lactic acid buildup and muscle fatigue. It can also help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. A percussion gun allows you to focus on a certain muscle group or muscle knots for immediate pain relief. It can also improve your range of motion and flexibility, encourage blood flow, help with muscle stiffness and more. Percussive therapy may even help with  and . Also, not that you should invest in a muscle massage gun for this reason alone, but the  look insanely Insta-worthy. Just  about using a massage gun if you have any injuries beyond a muscle ache from a tough workout. 

We’ve tested more than 30 massage guns at this point, and the following six are CNET’s picks for the best massage guns for 2022 for muscle recovery and pain relief. We’ll continue to update this best massage gun list as we see fit.

Therabody

The Theragun Prime is part of the fourth generation of Theragun massage guns. Its prior equivalent was the Theragun Liv, which used to be in this list of best massage guns, and is also .

The Theragun Prime’s main impressive feature is that it’s much quieter than its now-defunct counterpart. In fact, the Prime rivals the famously quiet Hypervolt Plus in terms of volume level — that’s a massive improvement from the Liv.

The improvements don’t stop there, though: Where the Theragun Liv only had two preprogrammed speeds and came with two closed-cell foam attachments, the new Theragun Prime has five built-in speeds (from 1,750 rpm to 2,400 rpm) and comes with four closed-cell foam massage gun attachment heads.

At $299, the Theragun Prime is pricey, but doesn’t induce sticker shock quite like the Pro G4 (below). This percussion massager sometimes goes on sale for $249 or even lower, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

To me, the improvements make the Theragun Prime seem well worth the price. The competition to the Prime, to me, is the original Hypervolt: These two massage guns have many similar features and hover around the same price range. The choice is yours for the making!

David Carnoy/CNET

< is pretty dang impressive -- especially compared to the previous line of Therabody massage guns. (The Theragun G3, a similar percussion massager version, was previously on this list. You can to learn more.) 

The Theragun Pro G4 is, first and foremost, much quieter than its former iteration. Loudness has been a chief complaint of Theragun buyers since the company’s early days, and the brand finally made a move to remedy that. 

I’m not saying the Pro G4 is silent — the noise level is still louder than most other massage guns — but it doesn’t rattle my brain like the G3 did, thanks to Theragun’s new QuietForce Technology. If you’re an athlete or serious exerciser who can deal with a massage device that sounds like a muted turkey carver (and you’re willing to pay top dollar for percussive therapy at your fingertips), the Theragun Pro G4 is a great choice for you. 

With up to 60 pounds of force, a rotating arm and ergonomic handle, a deep reach of 16mm into your muscle tissue, and speeds up to 2,400 repetitions per minute, the Theragun Pro is built for those who need legitimate percussive therapy multiple times per week. In short, this percussion massager is the real deal, but it’s probably not worth it for the average exerciser. 

Previously, the TimTam All New Power Massager was my pick for the best high-powered massage gun, but if you have money to spend, you can’t beat the power and relative quietness of the Theragun Pro. 

Sportneer

This $130 percussive massage gun from works surprisingly well for the price. It delivers six speeds of percussive therapy and reaches up to 220 watts and 3,200 repetitions per minute. 

Depending on what power setting you use, the battery life on this massage gun can last from two to six hours. I used the Sportneer device before and after workouts, as well as on rest days, and I never felt dissatisfied with the deep tissue massage experience.

The Sportneer massage gun comes with six head attachments, two of which have metal tips. You can use the metal attachments to massage yourself with , essential oils or pop them in the freezer for a touch of cryotherapy. 

This percussive massager is also relatively quiet: The website claims the massage gun reaches a maximum of 40 decibels, which is a softer noise level than the volume at which most people listen to music.

I previously reviewed the Sportneer K1 massage gun, which is another good value device from this brand for $30 less.

Ekrin Athletics

In the percussive therapy arena, there’s a common trade-off: power for sound. It’s tough to find a moderately priced and quiet yet powerful massage gun. Ekrin Athletics has created just that with its B37 massage gun. 

The Ekrin Athletics B37 massage gun packs all the leading industry standards, including an ultra-quiet motor (even quieter than the Hypervolt, in my opinion), multiple speed and pressure settings that deliver up to 56 pounds of force, an eight-hour battery life, an ergonomic design and a convenient carrying case with several massage head attachments. 

At a list price of $230, the value is phenomenal — it’s a low price for the value you get, as the Ekrin massage gun compares to the well-known and highly desired brands in the percussive therapy arena. And, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty, so there’s really no reason not to at least try the Ekrin Athletics B37 massage gun. 

Ekrin Athletics is a relative newcomer on the muscle gun scene, but make no mistake: This brand, founded by two former collegiate athletes, is raising standards and lowering prices for percussive therapy.

Hyperice

The Hypervolt Go is the newest launch from Hyperice, and it’s lighter, smaller and the most affordable gun in the Hypervolt line. At less than $200, it’s a great deal for a gun that’s nearly as powerful as the full-size models that retail for $300 and up. It weighs 1.5 pounds, making it ideal for travel when you don’t want to compromise precious space in your carry-on or gym bag. 

I tested the Hypervolt Go and was seriously impressed at how powerful the gun felt. Compared to the Hypervolt (which I also tested), I almost could not tell a difference in terms of force. The full-size Hypervolt does come with more attachments (the Go has two), but the Go also has three speed settings, which is still impressive for a small gun. If you’re new to massage guns and are looking for a solid product to try at a lower price, the Go is a great product to start with. 

— Mercey Livingston, CNET contributor

Achedaway

The Achedaway Pro is a favorite for super-sore days. Quiet and easy to handle, this massage tool features five power and speed settings ranging from 1,700 to 2,800 rpm, which according to the company are suited to wake up muscles, release fascia, eliminate lactic acid, provide deep tissue massage and facilitate muscle recovery.

Its list price of $299 is closer to the high end of things — actually, this Theragun alternative is up there with the top-level — but the Achedaway Pro often goes on sale. The Achedaway massager feels sturdy, doesn’t make the inside of your head rattle and provides varying levels of muscle relief massage that are suitable for sore muscles. 

The higher power settings felt great when I wasn’t sore, but didn’t hurt tender muscles, either — a perfect combo in my book. Like many other massagers, the Achedaway Pro comes with multiple head attachments for massaging different muscle groups. The rechargeable battery is removable for easy and portable charging. 

Also tested

We tested the following percussive massage guns over the last two years. Though they didn’t make the cut for the above categories, many of these are still great products. Check them out and see if one might be the right choice for you — and be sure to check for on-page coupons to bring the price down even further.