Theragun Alternatives: Best Budget Massage Guns for 2024 - CNET

Soothe your aching muscles and save some cash. These percussive massagers are cheaper than the high-end Theraguns, but work just as well.

Updated Jan. 19, 2024 4:43 p.m. PT Vibration Massage Gun

Theragun Alternatives: Best Budget Massage Guns for 2024 - CNET

CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise. Read how we test products and services.

Soreness and pain can be distracting and limiting in day-to-day life. If it's something you struggle with regularly, going to a masseuse each time you have aches can be pricey. With a good massage gun, you can relieve your stress and pain at home. But you don't have to spend as much as you would with a Theragun massager as there are plenty of cheaper options that are still great quality.

I put my muscles on the line to find out which of these affordable massage guns are worth your time. I started with the most affordable models from premium and popular massage gun brands Hyperice and Therabody, then I worked my way down to the most inexpensive off-brand massagers I could find. 

A percussion massager can come in all shapes and sizes, from full-size guns that look like hair dryers to mini ones that look incapable of generating much massaging power for your tight muscles. One model has an odd, triangular body; another incorporates two heads. In the end, I tried to get a good sampling of what's out there, with an eye toward products priced $100 or less.

Sure, this is the "value" end of the handheld massager category, but that doesn't mean any of these devices are a slouch when it comes to fighting muscle soreness. Even better, some of the prices shown here may actually end up lower, thanks to codes and coupons that come and go.

Like Therabody, Hyperice is a premium brand with prices to match. And speaking of matching, the Hypervolt Go sells for around the same price as the Theragun Mini. But I like the former more, in part because it comes with two heads instead of one and has a more comfortable gun-style design.

It's smaller than the likes of the MaxKare and Taotronics models, but also larger than the Naipo and Recoverfun. So let's call it "medium."

But, wow, is it powerful -- on par with the Theragun in terms of muscle-punching force. With only three speeds, however, it might prove a little much if you prefer a light touch. Hyperice doesn't supply a travel case, which is inconvenient, and the AC adapter is proprietary.

Between this and the Theragun Mini, I'd choose this. But there are less-expensive models that are also more versatile, so it's not my top pick.

Naipo's massager is the lightest and most compact model in the group, with a small but comfortable grip and more percussive force than you'd expect.

Other pluses include five speed settings and four different massage heads. Naipo doesn't provide a carrying case, which is a bit disappointing. But my only real complaint is that it's on the noisy side, at least compared with the other "minis" in the roundup, the Recoverfun and Sportneer.

I've seen various coupon or code deals that bring the price down on this massager, so you should definitely get it when it's on sale.

The triangular Mini exerts an impressive amount of force for its size, but the shape makes it hard to hold comfortably. What's more, Therabody provides only one attachment, a ball head; other models here come with at least two, if not four or even six -- for a lower price.

Even at the lowest of its three speeds, the Mini feels stronger than a lot of the other guns I tried. In fact, anyone looking for just a light, relaxing massage might find it a little too powerful.

Meanwhile, the unit relies on a proprietary AC adapter, not USB-C. That's one more thing to pack on a trip -- and the adapter doesn't even fit in Therabody's snug zippered carrying case.

While I'd be glad to have this on hand for deep-tissue relief, it's hard to recommend otherwise. There are too many other models with more features and lower prices.

You know the old saying: Two heads are better than one. But is that true of massage guns? I thought Fishda's Frankenstein was just a gimmick, but damn if it doesn't deliver twice the muscle-punching goodness. For big areas like thighs and glutes, I genuinely enjoyed this "bigger" massage.

Fortunately, it's not twice as loud as other guns; in fact, it's surprisingly quiet. It also has a relatively compact shape, basically a taller version of the Recoverfun Mini. But there's some heft to it: At 1.7 pounds it weighs more than any other gun in its size class. Expect arm fatigue to set in a bit sooner with this one.

It's also on the expensive side relative to other models, though that's to be expected given the dual heads. However, you can often find coupons that bring the price down considerably.

Available in three colors (including a rather dazzling red), the Recoverfun Mini is among my favorite massagers in the group. Although it's heavier than Naipo's similarly compact model, with a metal barrel that feels a little cold until it warms up, it's also surprisingly quiet. (When you're trying to relax, extra noise doesn't help.)

Theragun Alternatives: Best Budget Massage Guns for 2024 - CNET

Body Massager The gun offers four speed settings and Recoverfun supplies the "big four" attachments: ball, bullet, fork and flat. The flat one is made of aluminum, which offers no clear advantage I can see but definitely looks cool. You also get a drawstring carrying case, though you'll have to supply your own powered USB port for the USB-C charging cable.