Tired of back and joint pain, Yachting World's Toby Hodges has spent a season using Therabody’s Theragun Pro to find out if percussive therapy can be helpful on a yacht?

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Theragun Pro


Theragun Pro review – is a massage gun useful for sailors?

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It’s an age thing. You reach a certain stage in your life and things gradually stop working, hurt, or both. I am in my mid forties and have (vocally) put up with my fair share of back and joint pain for over 15 years already now. I have seen various health practitioners from physios and sports masseurs to Chinese and electro acupuncture, in various countries and continents.

So you can probably understand I am happy to try most suggestions (albeit with a little hard won scepticism) and was intrigued with the potential of percussive therapy – the use of massage guns that pummel muscles at a high frequency to simulate blood flow. It may not sound too tempting, but it has been used to good success and become increasingly popular over the last few years both by professional and recreational users, particularly for warm up and recovery in sport, to treat tension and prevent injury.

Once you are at sea, you are away from the comforts and wellness options that are only a phone call away on land. So while my ideal may be to have ‘magic hands Mo’ as a crewmate, a wily and wrinkled Moroccan who can make you laugh and cry out loud with pain, for hours, shipping a personal masseuse is, of course, not practical for the majority. Nor is trying to find a physio or pain relief in visiting ports.

Perhaps a portable massage gun is the way forward then?

Therabody says it pioneered percussive therapy when it launched in 2016 after a decade in R&D. The high speed vibration massage works by stimulating heat and blood flow in your muscles, encouraging oxygen in and lactic acid out.

The company says its trump lies in the speed and frequency (2,400 rpm) its devices hit and retract from the body and the 16mm amplitude that this PRO gun in particular is scientifically calibrated to work at. The continuous simulation a Theragun creates “distracts the brain away from the pain while also delivering deep, effective treatment,” it says.

As well as increasing blood flow by over five times reportedly, benefits include promoting flexibility, a speedier warm up and recovery when exercising, while decreasing muscle soreness and inflammation.

In use: Theragun Pro

The Theragun Pro is a serious piece of engineering. It comes in a padded case and weighs a hefty 1.3kg. From the way the batteries load to the adjustments you can make to the rotating arm angles, it’s clearly been very well built.

Two batteries give a combined total of 300 minutes use. To put that in perspective, you could use it everyday for five minutes over two months, which is plenty of juice for a lengthy ocean crossing.

One of the trump cards of the Theragun Pro is its bluetooth capability and app. At first I thought driving it via an app would be a bit of a gimmick. But the routines, which Theragun is continuously adding to, give you guidance, the ability to customise your massage around certain ailments or sports and encourages you to mix up your routine so it doesn’t get too repetitive. So once paired, your phone becomes the controller, including the frequency in real-time.

The Theragun Pro has a customisable speed range between 1750-2400 PPM and I particularly like the graphic force screen, which shows you how hard you’re applying the pressure (normally not as much as it recommends!).

I tend to use the Theragun before I go to bed and hit any areas that ache, or just as a general all-over massage. One of the main benefits I have found is that it relaxes you physically and mentally.  In fact, Therabody conducted trials which showed that 87% of participants fell asleep faster after using a Theragun.

Having used the Theragun Pro for a couple of seasons I would say it would suit the active racing sailor who is training hard or perhaps hiking frequently to help aid muscle fatigue/soreness. But it may equally suit cruising sailors too, those spending long periods of time away from home or a regular port, and want the means for a deep tissue massage on board.

The downsides of Theragun Pro

In reality, this is a solo use device – unless someone really loves you to, hold a gun to your back so to speak, on a daily or even weekly basis.

However, it’s quite a clunky device, and can be heavy and quite awkward to use on yourself, especially in trickier to reach spots, such as your back (arguably the place most people will want to massage most). So there is that slight concern that you may end up hurting yourself more trying to reach certain body parts! The result is you tend to use it mostly on major muscles like quads/hamstrings/chest/calves.

The company makes much of its brushless QuietForce technology, but I found the Theragun Pro relatively noisy, especially when deep massaging with some force – so it’s not something to just quietly do while watching TV.

Were I to buy one, I’d certainly stick with the Theragun brand for its build quality, but I’d be tempted to go for a smaller, lighter version such as the Theragun Mini (particularly if using it long term on a boat), at a third the cost (£175) and half the weight (650g).

The Theragun Pro RED comes with a hard case, two lithium-ion batteries (150 minutes use each), charger, and six closed-cell foam attachment heads of different shapes and sizes.

Buy the Theragun Pro from TheraBody
Buy the Theragun Elite from TheraBody
Buy the Theragun Mini from TheraBody

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