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It can be after a long day on the job, following a harder than usual workout, or just any day that ends in “y.” We’ve all been there, and “there” is reeling from muscle pain. A 2016 survey published by the CDC states an estimated 20.4% (50 million) of U.S. adults had chronic pain. It's no wonder then that the market of personal massage tools ranging from small and targeted to big and full-bodied is completely saturated. And that's part of what makes it so difficult to find the best massager. It helps to know what to look for, and that's where we look to the experts.
“Look for [a massage tool] that is easy to transport and have in your life daily,” says Whitney Tucker, a performance and wellness coach in New York City. “Otherwise, it will end up at the bottom of the closet with shoes you forgot about.” Fyt personal trainer Jayne Gomez suggests a deep tissue massager that utilizes percussive therapy. “Deep tissue massage helps to treat muscle pain and improve stiffness [and] percussive therapy is known to help muscles recover faster, reduce the lactic acid buildup that causes muscle pain, improve range of motion and flexibility, and encourage blood flow,” she says.
Keep in mind that deep tissue massagers may not be the best option for everyone, though. “Just like there are some cases in which you should not get a massage because of any pre-existing medical condition, you should heed those same guidelines when using a deep tissue massager,” Gomez explains. “In other words, if you have an injury, sprain, or any other chronic condition, make sure you talk to your doctor first before using a deep tissue massager.”
Ready to give it a try? Below, discover the best deep tissue massagers to buy right now.
Best Overall: Power Plate Pulse Portable Handheld Massager
Sleek, strong, and simple to use, the Power Plate Pulse comes ready-to-go right out of the box. Power Plate has been leading the whole body vibration category for over 20 years, so we trust its ability to do a great job when it comes to percussion therapy. With four vibration levels (instead of the standard three) and six targeted attachments, this is our choice for the best overall targeted deep tissue massager.
Editor Favorite: Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
We know that back and neck pain are the most common afflictions to affect us all (hello “tech neck”) so that’s why this affordable, adjustable, and all around awesome back and neck massager is one we consider a must-have. With three different speeds, eight deep-kneading Shiatsu massage nodes, and an advanced heat function, this designed-to-go-anywhere massager is totally worth it.
Expert Favorite: Hyperice Hypervolt Massage Gun
Both Mike Simone—certified trainer and founder of Human Fit Project and Digital Fit Project—and wellness coach Whitney Tucker are fans of the Hyperice Hypervolt. “Hypervolt by Hyperice is powerful, quiet, and very versatile,” Tucker says. “It does require a user to be able to mobilize and maneuver themselves into the best position for therapeutic massage, [but] it is well worth it.“
With percussion therapy being the method du jour among the fitness elite, it makes sense that this machine—which not only relieves muscle soreness and stiffness but also improves range of motion, promotes circulation, and even accelerates warmup and recovery—is also the choice of pro tennis player Naomi Osaka.
Best Bundle: TimTam Power Massager Pro
If you’re a streamlined shopper who wants one massager that does all, this is going to be your best bet. With a little bit of everything—including a percussion massage tool complete with warming and metal tips, an app-enabled, wireless transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device with 15 power levels, and even a heated, battery-powered vibrating massage ball—this TimTam power massager with a 175-degree articulating head is going to be the best bundle you will find for the money.
Best Splurge: TheraGun G3PRO Percussive Therapy Device
It’s called Pro for a reason. This is one of the top-of-the-line percussion therapy tools you can buy, and it’s worth every penny. Featuring multidirectional arm positions to make any sore part of the body reachable without strain or discomfort, the convenience doesn’t stop there.
Included in the pack is a second lithium-ion battery pack so the industrial-grade Japanese motor never has to go without a charge. The Theragun G3Pro is scientifically calibrated to reach 60% deeper into muscle than the other massagers out there, and at 40 times a second, it provides some of the best therapeutic benefits to the body you can find.
Best for Beginners: Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller
Triggerpoint is a mainstay in the foam roller space, and for good reason. Simone agrees: “It's a good middle of the road option. Not too hard, not too soft.” One might go as far as to say it’s just right. It has three surfaces designed to give the relief of a good ole’ fashioned hand massage—high and firm to mimic fingertips, tubular to feel like full fingers, and flat like the palm of the hand.
Best Massage Ball: SKLZ Targeted Massage Ball
This might look like any other ball, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. At only five inches, this targeted massage ball from SKLZ has a specialized texture that helps stimulate circulation while relieving pain associated with tension in large muscle groups through deep tissue compression massage. Add to that it’s portability, dependability, and cleanability, this low cost, high reward ball is good for anyone no matter their fitness level.
Best Myofascial Massager: FasciaBlaster Big Daddy Massager
Created and patented by Ashley Black after years of conquering Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), this targeted tool focuses on fascia, the thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber, and muscle in place. By focusing on this group, FasciaBlaster helps to minimize the appearance of cellulite, reduce excess fluids, improve circulation and enhance lymphatic drainage—all while feeling hella good.
Best Smart Device: JaxJox RollerConnect Vibrating Foam Roller
Adding smart technology into our lives proves overwhelmingly useful. Take, for example, this smart foam roller from JaxJox. It features five vibration intensity levels to help you recover faster, seven pre-programmed activities to match your workout, and three different exterior massage zones to alleviate muscle soreness and improve overall range of motion.
Use an IPhone's Bluetooth to sync with your Apple Health app and track your recovery just as you track your performance. The JaxJox app even provides guided recovery routines for newbies and pros alike.
Best Full Body Massager: Adako Zenith Massage Chair
Using automatic body analysis allows this 3D massager to adjust to your height and weight. It uses a zero-gravity function, which positions your feet above the head, relieving lower back stress and improving circulation.
Not enough? Don’t worry, there’s more. While you relax with your feet kicked up, an air-driven pressure massage system works your arms, legs, and incorporates stretching, turning, head, and waist twisting. It’s even heated, and built-in Bluetooth encourages you to relax to the tunes of your choice, or call in on mute to those conference calls.