Following on from our earlier study of the best massage guns available in Australia, we decided to give Healsage’s new flagship device a go.
Read on to see what we thought:
Massage Guns – the background
The massage gun (also known as a handheld percussion massage device) has become very popular, very quickly.
Massage guns are increasingly being used by professional athletes and humble amateurs for both sports recovery and therapeutic use.
The percussion massage gun has clearly ridden the wave of self-care, home fitness and wellness that has grown exponentially since the start of the Covid epidemic.
Anecdotal hearsay from local retailers suggests that the number of massage gun units sold (per month) has more than doubled since the start of Covid lockdowns in April 2020.
Similarly, the volume of online searches for the term ‘massage gun’ has tripled in both the US and Australia in two years.
Unsurprisingly, to meet this burgeoning demand, the number of manufacturers and distributors offering massage guns has boomed too.
One of these is Healsage, an Australian brand of massage gun, operating out of Queensland. SmartPlay decided to put their flagship model, the Healsage Pro massage gun (currently retailing at $299, down $100 from its RRP), through its paces.
Do Massage Guns Work?
We get this question a lot.
We’ve used massage guns around the SmartPlay office for a few years now. In fact, we bought a no-name brand from China a few years ago and it is certainly starting to show its age now. It’s heavy, noisy and feels a touch flimsy when nestled in your hand.
But it does its job. Using the handheld device on troublesome muscle knots, or for help with post-workout aches, brings welcome relief. It aids in my recovery and it feels good in the process.
At SmartPlay, we’ve not come across much in the way of scientific case studies proving (or disproving) the case for portable massage devices yet (maybe because massage guns are such a new phenomenon), but this one from the Journal of Sports Science Medicine (Nov 2020) does suggest that flexibility and movement improve with regular use of massage gun.
However, any increase in muscle strength is, as yet, unproven.
For me, I know that a session with a massage gun makes me feel better. My muscles are less sore, less tight and I move easier. I certainly wince less after a dreaded ‘leg day’.
Whilst obviously offering a different experience to a remedial massage, I have found that percussion guns generally do an excellent job in alleviating the aches and pains from workouts and exercise. This is particularly the case with quads and calves
A quick straw poll of the office suggests that most of us feel the same about massage guns. If there isn’t a qualified therapist ready and available to give you a post-workout recovery massage then a personal handheld percussion device is the next best thing.
Tired, tight, sore and aching muscles deserve treatment if they are to recover faster.
For me, massaging muscle knots has a pleasure/pain dichotomy. It hurts, but I like it. I know it is doing me good, and so I grit my teeth and soldier on.
And when I’m finished, I feel like doing it all again…
The Healsage Pro Massage Gun
At SmartPlay, we also conducted a review of half-a-dozen contenders for the top massage gun in Australia about 8 months ago and my cheap, no-brand Chinese model didn’t get a look in. It wasn’t good enough.
Since then, the number of brands, distributors and manufacturers of these portable massage devices has continued to proliferate at a rapid rate.
We recently came across the Australian brand, Healsage. It is a new brand to me and my colleagues, but a little bit of research shows that Healsage has been selling its massage guns for a couple of years now.
At SmartPlay, we look to support local Australian manufacturers and distributors because the local fitness ecosystem needs success stories for its long term survival.
The fact that we were unaware of the Healsage brand when we undertook our original review of the best massage guns available in Australia is testament to the fact that there are too many well-kept secrets in our local fitness industry.
Australian brands are, unfortunately, too often out-spent and out-muscled when it comes to marketing their products. Exhibit number one: Cristiano Ronaldo as ‘brand ambassador’ for the Theragun massage gun.
Cristiano, one of the world’s most recognisable athletes, doesn’t come cheap and it is only a seriously cashed up international operation that could afford his fees.
The Theragun massage gun that CR promotes is an excellent device (you can read about it in our article here), but it is nearly three times the price of the Healsage Pro. Can it really be that much better?
Delivery of the Healsage Pro was very prompt. From order to the front door was less than 72 hours (Queensland to Victoria).
The device comes with an elegant grey carry case (see photo) and a simple Quick Start Guide (instruction booklet).
The packaging is efficient and easy to open. You can have the box open and the massage gun ready to go within a minute.
The Healsage Pro massage gun is finished in a stylish matt black with a very smooth and tactile handle that feels very comfortable when nestled in your hand.
It’s a handsome looking device, solid and stylish, but it is not a small piece of equipment.
It feels robust and well-made in your hand. Imagine the shape and feel of a hefty hairdryer.
The Healsage Pro massage gun is priced at $299 (discounted from $399) and is available direct from the Healsage website.
Afterpay is available (4x $75) and all major credit cards are accepted.
Healsage provides a 12-month warranty and offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Net weight is 1.1kg and the dimensions of the Healsage Pro are 285mm H x 217 L x 64mm W.
There is a wall charger included in the box. The charging base that you see pictured is an additional $39.95. Whilst not necessary, the charging base is useful and I’m glad that we have it.
Ease of Use
The Healsage Pro massage gun comes with a simple 7 page instruction manual. It outlines the obvious precautions and includes the standard disclaimer about consulting a doctor before usage should you have any underlying health problems.
The manual explains the various massage heads (there are 6 included) and what they are best used for. Strangely, there are two identical round head attachments. From perusing the instructions booklet, I believe that they should be different sizes, but to the naked eye the variation is imperceptible.
The two massage ball heads do not appear to differ in look, feel or operation. Perhaps one is a spare? I certainly find that I prefer using these round head attachments as much as any other attachment, and would be grumpy if one went missing.
Changing massage heads is extremely easy. Simply turn off the device, detach the head and remove; then attach the new head and turn back on. It requires minimal effort.
The instructions booklet explains how to operate the massage gun via its touch-screen control panel. The control panel is not complicated.
The battery came with enough juice for me to start up the machine immediately, straight out of the box. A short charge brought the machine up to 100% capacity (the charge level is signified in the digital power display at the bottom of the handle).
Operating the Healsage Pro massage gun
Turn on the massage gun from the power switch on the underside of the handle and away you go. A little bit of fiddling is required to go through the gears (there are four levels), and some trial and error to ascertain what speed you prefer and then you’re away. It is not rocket science.
In a sign of the evolution of massage guns over the last few years, I was very taken with the Multi-Function modes that the Healsage Pro provides. My no-name brand gun of a few years ago does not have this and neither do most of the budget devices I’ve seen.
Older, cheaper models seem only to offer various speed levels and not different modes of vibration.
With the Healsage Pro, there is a ‘fade-out’ vibration mode for relaxing muscles after exercise; a ‘crescendo’ mode for activating muscles prior to exercise; a ‘wave’ mode which fluctuates the vibrations up and down; and, most intriguing, an ‘AI’ setting which adjusts the intensity of vibration according to how much force is applied by the user.
I found myself using this ‘AI’ mode most often. When I found muscle tightness or soreness that required a sensitive touch, the gun (when in AI mode) would ‘sense’ this from the force I was exerting, and would vary the vibration levels accordingly. Clever.
Reaching your back
The big drawback for a hairdryer-shaped massage gun (like the Healsage and most other percussive guns on the market) is the difficulty in comfortably reaching your back to work on problematic muscles.
The back is so often an area requiring loosening via massage, not just for the athlete, but also for the desk worker.
If you’re a white collar worker who found themselves working extensively from home in the recent lockdowns, you’ve likely had to make do with desks, chairs and home offices that are far from ergonomic best practice. The result: an explosion of back, neck and shoulder pain across the country.
Most massage guns available in Australia (including the Healsage Pro) are shaped like an inverted L (just like a hair dryer). And this works very well for addressing most front-facing body parts and even the soles of the feet.
However, reaching behind you to directly address your aching back can be a little problematic. It requires a little dexterity, flexibility and a modicum of stamina (the Healsage Pro weighs 1kg).
It’s certainly doable, but working on your knotted back for any length of time requires effort and focus. I think that the adjustable structure of the massage guns like Therabody’s latest generation Theragun make it easier to massage hard-to-reach areas like the back.
You’ll pay for it, of course, as the latest Theragun is more than twice the price!
Personally, I solve the problem with a simple, amateur hack job.
It works for me and is simple, but imperfect: I use cushions. Sofa cushions. There is nothing complicated about it.
It works when you sit on the sofa to read or watch TV. I build up a small array of cushions against the rear of the sofa that hold the massage gun in a particular spot.
I turn the gun on to my preferred setting and I lean back, move and adjust my position as necessary. I achieve the pressure strength that I’m looking for by pushing back against the device held in position by my artfully arranged cushions.
The level of noise
My rule of thumb with a massage gun (or indeed any portable device) is: can I hear the TV?
Can I, when relaxing on the sofa, comfortably hear dialogue on the screen without turning up the volume to un-neighbourly levels?
And the Healsage Pro massage gun gets a thumbs up here. Noise levels are well within my acceptable boundaries of tolerance.
Healsage claims that the Pro massage gun is ‘ultra quiet’ emitting less than 50dB in noise when in use. Not having the capacity to independently measure this claim, I’m comfortable to take Healsage’s word for it.
Even when operating the massage gun at the highest speeds, noise was never an irritation factor for me.
Long battery life is not at the top of my non-negotiables with portable massage devices.
A massage gun is not a mobile phone and so battery life really isn’t that important to me. It is certainly not a priority.
It is very easy to put the massage gun back on charge when finished with. Just plug into the wall or place it in the charging base.
A massage gun is not something I’m likely to carry about with me, unlike my phone or laptop. You will not find me giving myself a massage on the local bus, or whilst waiting for a waiter to bring me my coffee.
From my experience with the Healsage Pro, I was able to get 3-4 hours of continuous use. If you used the gun on lower settings you’d presumably get longer.
I never fully ran the battery out as I never needed to. I used it when I needed to and then I returned the gun to the handy charging base. I struggle to envisage a scenario where you would run out of battery power, unless you misplaced your wall charger or were purchasing the massage gun to be used continuously on a whole football team, one player after the other.
To my mind, the charging base is a very handy addition. It recharges the device efficiently and the gun looks splendid standing upright on a table.
So Are Massage Guns Worth it?
In the case of the Healsage Pro massage gun, definitely. I’m impressed with this device. It’s a definite improvement on my old no-name brand in functionality and weight.
The AI mode is very useful: it’s my go-to after a workout. And if my muscles are still sore or tight before my next workout, I’ll give ‘crescendo’ mode a run prior to exercising
I’ve found that, over time, I’ve narrowed my use of the 6 massage attachments to just the round heads and the air cushion head. I find that the harder plastic heads (spinal, flat, bullet) are just too unforgiving for my pain threshold. Yep, I’m soft.
The Healsage Pro is light enough to be mobile and comes with an excellent, stylish carry case. However, I’ve yet to take it any further than the TV room to deck to bedroom.
I’ll plan on throwing it in the car with me when I drive to our Xmas holiday rental, but other than that I can’t see myself needing to take it out of the house too often.
However, taking it to the gym could be an option. This study published in the US National Library of Medicine, suggests that using a massage gun during resistance training is beneficial in maintaining velocity of movement and postponing muscle fatigue, if used during your rest periods between sets.
I’m unsure how practical this will be in a busy gym, but if you workout at home this is definitely worth investigating.
- The Healsage Pro is an excellent, easy to use, well-priced massage gun
- I’ve used it daily now for over a month and have no qualms about recommending it to SmartPlay readers
- It has a good selection of massage heads and a wide variety of speed levels and vibration modes
- The Healsage Pro massage gun has helped me loosen knotted muscles and brought relief to many problem areas
- Whilst its design does not make it easy to massage your back there is a relatively effective workaround
- I can categorically state that the Healsage Pro massage gun has aided in my post-exercise recovery