Let’s face it – if you’re working out then you’re going to get sore or stiff muscles at one time or another. I mean I can’t count the number of times I’ve pulled a muscle and wished for some relief 1 said Jeffrey Toobin, ba-da-dum
But just because you don’t have time for regular massage appointments it doesn’t mean your muscles shouldn’t get the attention they deserve. Enter the Sharper Image Massage Gun.
Found at fine retailers like Amazon and Costco 2and not as fine ones like Wal-Mart, the deep tissue massage gun promises relief from tension and tight or stiff muscles. And to put that to the test, I ponied up $65 (+ tax!) to review this deep tissue massager.
As usual, these thoughts are my own and your mileage may vary. So, without further adieu, let’s get started. Use the menu below to skip around or just to see my final rating.
What is a Percussion Massager?
First, let’s do a quick overview on what a deep tissue massager actually is 3 yeah, I ended a sentence on is..so sue me. Also known as a massage gun or a percussion massager, a deep tissue massager is a handheld device that is used for massage therapy by using (some) vibration and (mainly) pressure to reduce tightness, improve range of motion, and speed up recovery. And massage can actually (indirectly) improve performance.
Calling it a massage “gun” is bit of a misnomer as the shape of the massager is usually more resembles a drill or reciprocating saw. In fact, my first and original massager is actually that — a Worx reciprocating saw with a custom ball-like attachment, as you can see below.
Anyways, unlike other soft tissue work like foam rolling, percussive therapy massage guns can penetrate deep into, stimulating your muscles and helping release tension. In fact, according to Homedics,
Percussive therapy loosens soft tissue and increases blood flow. Fascia, which wraps around your muscles and joints, can become inflamed and cause pain. Research has shown that tight fascia may also limit your range of motion.
When a muscle group is stiff and limits the range of motion of a specific part of your body, other muscles will overcompensate. That puts you at risk of potentially serious injury.
It’s not only used by for relief, but physical therapists even use it to help promote recovery from injuries or surgeries such as ACL repairs. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the Sharper Image massager.
Sharper Image Massager
Packaged in an attractive and descriptive box, unboxing the Power Percussion Deep Tissue Massager is simple and easy. You just lift the lid of the box and it unfolds and reveals a nice carrying case. Printed on the inside of the lid is a some more information about the massager, such as information about the lithium ion batteries, the brushless motor, and anti-stall electronics. Overall, it looks (and feels) very professional.
There are 5 main items included in the box.
- Carrying case
- The massage gun
- An attachment case – which houses attachments
- 6 different interchangeable attachments, each of which hit your muscles slightly differently while in use
- Household power (DC) adapter
For you neat freaks, you’ll be happy to know all items fit neatly inside case. Not only is that good for organizing, it makes traveling with the percussion massager much easier. It’s easy enough to throw into a gym bag and have it function as your sports recovery sidekick after a workout.
One last note, the case itself is nicely done. It has a decently hard shell while the inside is molded to perfectly fit all the rest of the items.
Evaluating The Massager
Much like when I’m reviewing adjustable dumbbells, there are a few things I look for when evaluating a massage gun:
- Ease of use – Is the massage gun intuitive? Can I easily adjust the intensity of the massage? How quickly can I change the attachments?
- Construction – Is it well built or does it feel cheaply made? How’s the battery life?
- Effectiveness – Does it work well?
- Miscellaneous – How noisy is it? What kind of value does it provide?
So how does the Sharper Image Massager rate? Well, read on…
Testing the Sharper Image Massager
Ease of Use
This one is simple to rate: it’s fantastic. Weighing in at 12 ounces, the massage gun itself is pretty light and very comfortable to hold. It has a nice long handle with a soft, gray non-slip covering.
Changing the attachments is as simple as taking one out of the case and pushing into (or pulling it out of) the head of the gun. They’re held in place by friction and don’t move around when in use yet are quick and easy to change. It works surprisingly well.
Turning on the massage gun is also intuitive: you simply flip the small switch at the bottom of the handle. When you do, a ring around the bottom will handle will light up to let you know it’s on. At the same time, there’s a small lcd display that lights up on the back of the gun. The display will show your battery life, given as a percentage remaining.
One quite note on the battery life – Sharper Image claims up to 4.5 hours of life. While I didn’t specifically test that, after the initial full charge, I used the deep tissue massager over a span of a couple weeks and still had over 60% battery remaining. Suffice to say, the battery is powerful enough for this massager.
Anyways, once turned on, there’s a small button on the back panel you tap that starts up the massager. Simply tap the button again to cycle through the different speed settings — starting with 0 (off) and going all the way up to 6 (intense).
Overall, going from case to deep tissue massage is simple, quick, and easy.
The build quality is very good, especially at this price point. The massage gun has a nice solid feel without being heavy. Using the Sharper Image massager for long stretches at a time is easy and comfortable, especially when compared to my previous option.
Everything feel well put together with a nice, polished fit and finish. Even the dark gray finish with just some orange highlights looks good. The handle is long and not too thick so it’s comfortable to hold.
The LCD display is small and basic – it only shows the battery life or the current intensity – but it’s bright and easy to read. And while you can’t skip intensity levels, it’s very quick to cycle through them all.
Everything else — from the case to the various attachments – are well made with no obvious or glaring quality issues.
While not the most powerful massager I’ve ever used, it is still pretty powerful and effective. The variable, user-controlled intensity levels are great and will be strong enough for the vast majority of people.
I used the Shaper Image massager to target sore muscles, for pain relief, and to loosen up some knots in my muscles. It’s easy to use on your legs, arms, and I even use it on my neck, albeit on lower speed. You can use it on own upper back but you’ll need a partner to help out if you really want to target that area.
And while there are 6 different intensity levels that work all the different part of your body, I would’ve preferred an option for just slightly maybe more power as I like an intense massage . That’s being a bit nitpicky, especially at this price level, but it’s really the only fault I can find.
Beyond that, the attachments are all great although I don’t really find a huge difference between then. Some of them, like the cone, are great for deep tissue percussion relief while other like the larger ball are good for overall comfort and recovery.
They all do have different penetration levels 4 phrasing! based on their shape, but I find that I generally just stick to a couple of them with the smaller foam ball being my overall favorite.
There’s a small booklet included that describes the function of each and also gives some recommendations on which one to use at specific times. Either way, there’s no harm in trying them all and figuring which works best for you.
Sharper Image claims their massage gun is whisper quiet via their “quiet drive technology.” While that is a bunch of marketing speak, as massage guns go, this is very quiet.
In fact, it’s much quieter than my makeshift massage gun, maybe on the order of 2/3 quieter, and in line with other modern massage guns. And while I wouldn’t say it’s “whisper quiet”, you can certainly hold a conversation or watch TV easily without it being distracting.
Lastly, the value of Sharper Image massager is really good. Normally, this retails for around $80 or so 5at least at Costco and you can occasionally find it as cheap as $65. At that price, I think it’s a steal.
And while it’s not a Theragun, you’re not paying the $300-$400 that most of those command. I don’t own one of those – though I have used them – but I think you get at least 80% of the performance of those at probably a 1/5 of the price.
If you’re looking for an easy way to massage those sore muscles, relieve tension, or just relax there’s no reason not to try the Sharper Image massage gun. And while it might not provide immediate pain relief like a true massage would, this is quick, effective, affordable, and can easily be used in the comfort of your own home.
You can adjust the intensity levels and quickly change attachments to get anything from a light massage to a deep tissue massage. It’s also comfortable, very quiet, and comes with a handy case. All in all, for the price, this is the best massage gun I’ve used. Highly recommended!