If you're looking for a massage that's intense enough to relieve chronically aching muscles (think between the shoulder blades and lower back), a handheld percussion massager is a tool you can't live without. The intensity and positioning are easy to control and can go from a gentle to an intense, targeted, deep tissue massage. Percussion massagers are good for all kinds of aches and pains including fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel, sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis and more.
Perhaps that's why sports massage professionals rely on them to help treat their patients.
But, you don't have to be a massage professional to treat your aches and pains at home. Whether you're looking to help heal up a sports injury, or just hit that spot between your shoulder blades that feels absolutely delicious – handheld percussion massagers can get the job done.
We've searched high and low for the best handheld percussion massagers. This list is the result of hours of research into the science and technology behind percussion massage bring you the top 5 products we think are worth your time.
HoMedics HHP-350 Percussion Action Massager
The Homedics HHP-350 packs a lot of punch for a simple percussion massager. It has 2 custom massage heads and variable speed control that allows you to toggle between 4 different levels of intensity. The massage heads themselves have a little bit of flex, which is nice if you’re trying to lean into the unit and get a deeper massage.
The two things I liked most about this unit were the ergonomic handle and the optional heat setting. Unlike other handheld massagers, the Homedics HHP-350 makes it easy to get to those hard to reach places, like the spot right between your shoulder blades, without putting pressure on your wrists. The heat is a nice feature too because it’s actually noticeable on this unit.
If you’re looking for a well-made handheld massager with all the bells and whistles that’s also made by a brand you can trust, I recommend checking out the Homedics HHP-350 Handheld Massager.
Pure-Wave CM7 Extreme Power Massager
If you’re looking for the same type of handheld percussion massager that therapists and professional trainers use on their clients, the Pure-Wave CM7 Power Massager is the way to go. At 3,700 rotations per minute, it’s one of the most powerful battery operated units on the market and many professionals consider it the best percussion massager to use on their clients.
The real selling point for me however, its that the Pure-Wave Power Massager is like having 2 massagers for the price of one. One side of the unit delivers deep, powerful percussion massage to the arms, legs and back, while the other side offers stimulating micro-vibration for more delicate areas like the face and head.
With 6 different massage head attachments, you can customize your experience to soothe away all kinds of aches and pains. Add to all of that the fact that this massager is made of high quality materials by a company in Canada that stands behind their products, and the Pure-Wave Extreme Power Massager is a real winner.
Wahl Hot Cold Therapy Electric Massager
The Wahl Hot/Cold Therapy Massager offers something a little bit different. In addition to deep vibrating therapeautic massage, the Wahl Handheld Massager includes 7 massage head attachments. These include a heated attachment to help increase circulation and a cold attachment to reduce swelling and pain.
The heated and chilled head attachments are a real life-saver for athletes and exercise enthusiasts looking for a massager that can help speed up recovery times and reduce muscle tightness. Unlike some of the other handheld massagers we’ve reviewed, the Wahl Hot/Cold Therapy Massager is small enough to easily maneuver and won’t take up too much space in your gym bag either.
Thumper E501 Sport Massager
Thumper is another reliable and well-crafted Canadian brand (Canadians do like their massages, aye?) and the Thumper E501 Sport Massager is no exception. It has a patented drive system and 5 variable speed settings that emit anywhere from 20-40 pulses per second. This unit doesn’t just vibrate – it actually taps the muscle to penetrate deep into the fibers to help relax and heal damaged tissues.
What makes this unit stand out to us is, believe it or not, the cord. Although the Thumper E501 Sport Massager isn’t cordless, the cord is a whopping 12 feet long. They definitely had the home user in mind when designing this handheld massager – you can use it just about anywhere in the home or office without having to sit in an awkward location.
It also comes with a 2 year warranty, a DVD showing you different ways to use the product (very useful) and a carrying case – because this is one unit you’ll want to take everywhere.
Brookstone Max 2 Dual-Node Massager
The Brookstone Max 2 Dual Node Massager prides itself on offering maximum control, power and relief. But, is it true? Well, at 2,550 RMS the Brookstone Max is the most powerful handheld massager designed specifically for home use.
This lightweight cordless unit is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, so you can use it anywhere and in any position. It has 5 speed settings that go from 1,750 RMS to 2,550 RMS. But, what I really like about the Brookstone handheld massager is that it includes 3 different massage programs to pulse, energize and soothe aching muscles. Now that sounds heavenly!
What is a Percussion Massager?
A percussion massager uses percussion, or tapping motion to stimulate and massage your muscles. It’s also known as tapotement massage, which means rapid tapping (percussion) of your muscles. This is much different from your typical shiatsu massager which offers a circular kneading action instead.
Percussion massage is an aggressive type of massage that is perfect for increasing circulation and targeting large muscle groups like the back and legs. It’s also good for relieving the aches and pains of sore muscles.
The action of a percussion massager is similar to vibration, but stronger and more targeted. Unlike a some handheld massagers that just vibrate, the nodes on a percussion massager actually move up and down. This produces a kneading sensation against your sore muscles.
Who is Percussion Massage For?
Percussion massage units are often used by sports massage therapists and athletes to help heal sports injuries and accelerate muscle growth. However, you don’t need to be an athlete or body builder enjoy and benefit from percussion massage.
In fact, anyone can benefit from it. And with so many positive effects, there is no reason not to. Here are some of the benefits a handheld percussion massager can give you:
- relieve soft tissue pain
- accelerate growth and repair of muscle tissue
- increase blood flow and lymphatic circulation
- breakdown adhesions and internal scar tissue
- relieve stiff joints to increase the range of motion
- relax thickened connective tissue
Even people who sit at a desk all day could probably get some use out of these benefits. After all, who doesn’t need greater range of motion and increased circulation?
So, check out the reviews above – you might find yourself looking at handheld massagers a little bit differently than before. These are tools that can help you relax and heal right in the comfort of your home.