Friday 24th December, 2021

Are massage guns scientifically proven

Massage gun usage
The effectiveness, scientific validity and safety of percussion massage is badly misrepresented

While massage gun marketers claim that their machines are scientifically proven the reality is that they:

  1. miss-represent scientific evidence,
  2. make false claims, and
  3. modify their machines for clinical trials so they get better results and do not hurt people.

The result of this is that you are persuaded to buy something that is not very effective and can hurt you. In this article we will discuss each of these, then show you better alternatives.


What are massage guns
The false claims made by marketers
Safety concerns
More effective alternatives

What are massage guns (percussion massage)

To understand why the marketer’s claims are false and misleading we need to look at what massage guns are. Very simply, marketers have modified the therapeutic vibration massagers that professionals have been using for decades and have them drive their heads into your muscles. They have called this “percussion massage”. Let us illustrate what they have done with a diagram.

Vibration vs percussion vs conventional
  • The machine on the left is a genuine vibration massager. You can see that it has the large pad to send copious amounts of therapeutic vibrations deep into your muscles.
  • The tool on the right is a t-bar that massage therapists use to deliver deep (usually painful) pressure.
  • The machine in the middle is a massage gun, or percussion massager. It’s head goes up and down a lot further and is designed to drive into your muscles. Basically it is a t-bar with a jack-hammer mechanism.

The false claims made by massage gun marketers

Understanding that, lets look at the claims made by massage gun marketers.

False claim one: massage guns provide the benefits of vibration

Massage gun marketers claim that their machines provide the benefits of vibration + extras. The reality is that the amount of therapeutic vibration benefits provided by a massage gun is almost insignificant. Let us look at why.

Massage guns only deliver a small amount of vibrations

Looking at the diagram above you can see that a massage gun only delivers a fraction of the vibration a genuine therapeutic vibration massager does.

Massage gun vibrations are at the wrong frequency

The main therapeutic vibration effects occur at from 40-60 hz (vibration per second). We discuss these in our article The scientifically proven effects of vibration massage- with clinical applications . Serious massage guns drive their heads into your muscles 12-16mm. Doing this around 50 times a second would cause tremendous damage. Theraguns have a maximum of 40 hz, but even this is way too fast, as a survey of professionals found that most use their massage guns on “slow” or “medium” (1)⁠. Therefore the speed that massage guns can be safely used is way outside the frequency range that gives the benefits.

Ultrasound being used
Just like ultrasound (vibration at a different frequency) it is wrong to claim that driving the head in increases penetration

False claim two: driving their heads in makes them penetrate better

Massage gun marketers claim that by driving their heads into your muscle it penetrates better. It is the vibrations that have the therapeutic effects, and like ultrasound (vibrations at a different frequency) the vibrations from a genuine therapeutic vibration massager can go right through your body. As discussed in our article Are massage guns safe , all driving their heads in is good for is to hurt you.

False claim three: massage guns do not give you additional worthwhile conventional massage

Massage gun marketers claim that driving their heads in adds the benefits of conventional massage. To our knowledge there is no evidence that by driving their heads into your muscles massage guns give you worthwhile conventional massage benefits. It is totally unreasonable to believe that these would give you anywhere near the benefits of a proper professional massage therapist.

False claim four: massage guns are not proven by clinical trials

Massage gun marketers have conducted trials do demonstrate the effectiveness of their product. The problem is that what they are telling you is not what they are testing. While massage gun marketers are telling you about how wonderful percussion massage is because massage guns drive their heads into your muscles, when they do clinical trials they modify the machines so they do not do not drive into the muscles  (2,3)⁠. They do this so they at least get some benefits and do not hurt any patients. For details please see this article.

Safety concerns

While therapeutic vibration massagers have been safely used by professionals for decades, machines that drive their heads in like jackhammers is not. For full details, including documented cases where massage guns have causes life threatening injuries please see our article Are massage guns safe .

Your safer, more effective alternative

As we have seen marketers have modified genuine vibration massagers to create a marketing gimmick that are less effective and potentially dangerous. You are far better off getting a genuine therapeutic vibration massager. For how to tell the difference please see our article How to choose a massager . That said, most vibration massagers are built for professionals to use on their patients rather than personal use, and most personal use machines are either massage guns or ineffective "consumer" machines. Because of this we built our own.

#The General Purpose Massager

We’ve had this machine for over a decade and it’s proved to be extremely effective, economical and reliable. The only shortfall is that you are limited to massaging the region under the single head. More information about the General Purpose Massager

The Ultimate Quad Head Massager

This machine has the same ergonomic shape and effectiveness as the General Purpose Massager, but has four heads so it can massage a much larger area. More information about the Ultimate Quad Head Massager


Most of our massagers are sold through professional clinics where where the professionals use them themselves and recommend them to patients or clients. If you are a professional and wish to know more about vibration massage please check out practitioner page for more information and possibly a sample massager to try this therapy yourself. Our DrGraeme massagers were originally built by Dr Graeme for use in his clinic, and to prescribe to his patients for additional self use at home. Now these are used by colleagues and other professionals for similar purposes.


  1. Cheatham SW, Baker RT, Behm DG, Stull K, Kolber MJ. Mechanical percussion devices: A survey of practice patterns among healthcare professionals. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021;16(3):766–77.
  2. Martin JD of H and WU of winchester. A critical evaluation of percussion muscle gun therapy as a rehabilitation tool focusing on lower limb mobility. A literature review. 2021.
  3. Garc M, Jurado-castro JM, Ben J. Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment on Movement Velocity during Resistance Training 2021

We are continually adding more information on research and uses. Subscribe below to have us email them to you "hot off the press".

Dr Graeme

About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and... read more

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