gifts they'll want in a pandemic

This Percussive Therapy Tool Feels Like a Deep-Tissue Massage

Photo-Illustration: retailer

Of my many purchases this year (sweatpants, sweatpants, and more sweatpants), my wisest investment has undoubtedly been my Theragun Mini — a massage therapy tool beloved by physical therapists, trainers, and athletes (including basketball player Kyrie Irving) that helped relieve my back, neck, and shoulder pain after a bad accident.

A few months ago, my beloved cat Martini escaped through an open window onto the roof of my one-story building. I chased after her without hesitation, but smooth-soled loafers and asphalt tile are a recipe for disaster. I slipped, fell, and landed in a flower bed below, my body bent in a disjointed S shape. It was terrifying.

Somehow, I didn’t break or fracture anything (and Martini is safe and sound), but my body’s not been the same since. I went from a person who had occasional back aches after flights to someone who’s pretty much in a constant state of discomfort. I pull muscles whenever I abruptly turn my neck, reach up to grab something, or bend over too quickly — which I’d never experienced before — and I wake up with aches and an overwhelming stiffness in my shoulders and back every morning.

Since I didn’t feel comfortable getting treatment in person, I zoomed with a physical therapist who recommended I invest in a Theragun — a powerful, drill-like massage tool that uses vibration and force to relieve soreness and muscle pain. The Theragun, he explained, uses percussive therapy, a method that increases blood flow to your muscles which helps reduce tension, break apart bad knots, and calm inflammation. According to him, they’re the very best at-home muscle-relief tools money can buy.

It sounded fantastic in theory, but I quickly discovered the tool my physical therapist recommended was nearly $600. Not happening. But, some further digging on the site led me to a miniature, “portable” version that was available for a fraction of the price (around $199) and had hundreds of deeply convincing reviews. “Why did I waste my money? I wish I had known to buy the mini one all along” said one reviewer. “It’s the perfect size. It gets the hard-to-reach places my regular Theragun can’t,” said another. I was sold.

The Theragun Mini was even smaller than I had imagined it would be: It’s only a touch bigger than my hand and a lot lighter than my MacBook Air. But once I actually powered the thing up, I was taken aback by its might — at three different speeds, it vigorously vibrates to loosen up muscles while the attachment ball thrusts up and down, massaging deep into those sore spots.

It felt incredible as I ran it along my tense areas, avoiding my spine as instructed. When I turned it off after about fifteen minutes, I left out a giant sigh of relief — for the first time in months, I was able to move my neck and shoulders without that stiffness or soreness. Now, anytime I feel a pinching or tension, I reach for my Theragun, and within minutes it alleviates my pain. It’s not just therapeutic for extreme injuries: I use it on my thighs and calves after jogs to prevent next-morning aches, and my boyfriend relies on it for soothing his neck and shoulders after long hours bent over his laptop. It helps take the edge off of just about any muscle tension, however big or small.

Whether you’re gift hunting for your more athletic sister or Dad with creaky hips, the Theragun is just about the closest thing you’ll get to gifting them a daily at-home deep-tissue massage.

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This Tool Is Like an At-Home Deep-Tissue Massage