Regular exercise is damn good for you, but comes with a curse: You're guaranteed to forever be carrying around low-grade aches in your worn, knotty muscles.
The DIY solutions are stretching and foam rolling, which can feel like chores to squeeze into your already limited exercise schedule; the professional solution is massage, which is glorious but too expensive for most of us to enjoy regularly.
Technology has given us a middle ground: percussive massage, aka massage guns. You might've seen these advertised in your social media feeds — they're basically handheld devices designed to pummel your problem areas dozens of times a second.
It looks weird... but it works
You're probably thinking that a self-punching machine doesn't sound… fun.
That's what I thought before I trialled a Theragun — the brand that's to massage guns what Apple is to smartphones.
After using this thing for a few weeks, my initial scepticism is gone. I am converted. This is a gym rat's dream machine.
Despite what it looks like, percussive massage doesn't feel like punching yourself: the Theragun's head glides over muscles with surprising lightness. A quick sweep pre-workout — guided by a handy how-to app — noticeably loosens shoulders and hips. A longer session post-workout feels bloody brilliant, especially on the legs and lower body, back, chest… all over, to be honest.
The Theragun was invented by US chiropractor Dr Jason Wersland, after he survived a motorcycle accident and discovered that there weren't any available tools to treat his chronic pain.
"As a result, I made something for myself and it worked. It worked better than I could have ever imagined," said Wersland via email, adding that the Theragun can also help with modern-day ailments such as plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel, mastitis, "tech neck", and sciatica.
So what's the catch?
A minor downside of this dream tool is the noise it makes: not loud enough to terrify children, but loud enough to annoy housemates if you use it while they're trying to watch TV. (The latest G3 model is far quieter than its predecessors, which resembled power tools.)
A more significant downside is the cost: The G3 is $549 while the G3Pro, with an adjustable head that allows you to reach further into those trouble spots, is $849. (There's even limited edition Theragun Gold, which sets you back nearly $1500.)
That price tag puts it beyond the range of the average gymgoer.
But there's a bright side: some physios predict these devices will become commonplace in gyms. In the not-so-distant future, it might be common to look into the stretching corner to see a stranger sighing in pleasure as they brush a massage gun over every muscle.
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According to Sam Downing, the secret to wellbeing is just to keep it simple. A qualified personal trainer, fitness instructor and nutrition coach, Sam is also a writer focusing on everyday health.
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