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Theraguns are percussive devices used by athletes to help them warn-up and recover from their workouts and competitions. They have become increasingly popular in recent years. John Shepherd takes a look at the Theragun Elite.
Theraguns were invented around 2008 by chiropractor Jason Wersland. Wersland was unfortunately involved in a bad road traffic accident in the States when riding his motor bike. Paradoxically he was on his way to his final exams to become a chiropractor. The crash left him in a lot of pain – particularly soft tissue pain.
And it was because of this that during his convalescence he determined to invent a machine which would treat his injuries and manage his pian. Using DIY skills and bits and pieces of various devices he constructed a rudimentary Theragun. The rest as they say is history as Wersland gained backing and support for the use of his devices - so much so that Theragun, now branded under Therabody, is the leading percussive therapy brand in the world.
Putting it to the test
I trialled the Theragun Elite the second from the top of the range model in the company’s line-up behind the Theragun Pro. I found it has everything that any athlete would need for such a device (the Pro has, for example, a greater stall speed and storable programmes). The stand-out feature for me was the app guidance and Bluetooth connectivity.
Many times, athletes will get a hold of a device for massage or warm-up but do not know how to use it specifically, well the Therabody app takes away all the head-scratching. You connect your Theragun to the app and you can allow it to take over and lead you through a specific session.
I found this very intuitive to use and obviously of great value when starting out to use the device.
You can, for example, select the body part you want to work on from the app, and with the Theragun connected, work for a specific time on that body part. The app shows which attachment to use (there are five) and the recommended grip, for example, so that you can more comfortably get it into the area that you want to treat.
And a graphic indicates how to sweep the device across the relevant area making sure you get maximum benefits. A further cool feature is the fact that the app will actually switch the Theragun off after each treatment. You can also manually control the amplitude of the Theragun from 2400PPM to 1750PPM depending on the type of effect you desire and vary the pressure you apply (the stall speed being 40lbs).
To use the device sweeping movements are generally recommended. The lighter the pressure the more the effect will target recovery, whilst the stronger the pressure the more the effect will be stimulatory. If you have sore muscles and knots, it’s advised that you work around these to reduce the inflammation and apply gentle pressure.
So, don’t “hammer” away at the painful area, as in all likelihood you will make the area worse. You want to break down the knot and achieve increased healing blood flow.
After a treatment you will probably feel heat in the targeted area and sometimes a tingling feeling which is due to the increase in blood flow.
I’ve used the device for both recovery and for warm-up purposes and have found it to be useful for both. A specific example, I had a sore ITB and the Theragun certainly reduced the soreness over a couple of days of treatment.
I do like to see if there is any research on products tested (where relevant) and at the time of writing I was unable to locate any, unlike with for example, EMS/Bioelectrical devices. So, we have to rely on personal experience and more anecdotal evidence which is favourable for use from a wide range of sources.
The Theragun Elite is easily transportable and quickly charged and is a lot quieter than the previous third generation which I previously tested. Ergonomically it’s also more comfortable to use as a result of the subtle design tweaks.
Theragun Elite Specs
Can store 3 pre-set programmes
40lbs stall speed
2400-1750 PPM speed
120min battery life
Wireless charge enabled
5 various treatment attachments
SRP £375 $399