Massage Guns for Back Pain: Pros & Cons/2020 Reviews

Is a massage gun good (and safe) for you – if you suffer from chronic back pain or back injuries?

Who should you use it and who should avoid it? and what are the best percussion massage guns for back pain?

massage gun pros and cons reviews for back pain

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👉 In a hurry?
Compare the best massage guns for back pain relief with our comparison table below!
 Massage Heads/
Speed options
Bottom Line
🥇Playmakar MVP
Percussion
Massage Gun

6 heads
6 speed settings
Most versatile
Check Price
Renpho
Massage Gun

4 heads
20 speed settings
Best for muscle knots
Check Price
Hyperice
Hypervolt

4 heads
5 speed settings
Best for Sciatica
Check Price
Exerscribe
Vybe Pro

5 heads
9 speed settings
Budget-friendly
Check Price
OPOVE M3
Pro

4 heads
3 speed settings
Top seller
Check Price
(Save 10% with coupon "opove")
👉 Want to see the detailed reviews? Jump to the massage guns reviews!

In this post, you’ll find the pros and cons of massage guns, and discover if these powerful percussion massagers are helpful for all back pain conditions, and the best massage guns for back pain relief.

What is a Massage gun?

 

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Massage guns are high-intensity handheld massagers that mostly look like speed radar guns that policemen point at cars on the interstate.

They are either percussion back massagers, vibration massagers, or both and were essentially made for athletes’ recovery after (or before) an intense workout.

Massage therapy is scientifically proven to help muscles recover faster by increasing blood circulation and reducing muscle aches and lactic build-up while improving flexibility and range of motion.

The different massage gun models work with either a thumping or a circular motion, in varying speeds and pressure.

(👉 See the top 7 vibrating foam rollers of 2020!)

Who can Benefit from Massage Guns?

Everyone from professional athletes to frequent gym-goers can benefit from massage guns, and so do people who suffer from work-related back muscle pain, such as back pain from sitting, lumbar pain from standing, drivers, construction workers, and more.

However:

Is it safe to use of you suffer from Sciatica, Arthritis, or spinal disc injuries?

Keep reading to find out.

Are Massage Guns Safe for Everyone?

 

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Even if you don’t suffer from a chronic back pain condition, you have to use a percussion massage gun with caution.

Why?

Because most massager guns are very powerful, and you have to take the time to learn how to use each feature.

High-end massagers have more applications and you have to learn about them and start gradually, or not at all if you have certain injuries.

If you experience severe muscle soreness, you may need to hold the device slightly away from your skin so it doesn’t punch you to full pressure. The same goes for extremely tight muscle knots.

👉 Alternatively, you can use neck traction to safely treat your injured neck.

Can You Use a Massage Gun for Arthritis/Pinched Nerves/Sciatica?

Through our research, we believe that using a high-end powerful massage gun for back injuries such as Sciatica or Arthritis – may cause more harm than good.

The more power and pressure does not mean the better the treatment, and you may actually be overstraining an already jeopardized structure.

If you do use it, choose a lower intensity massage gun, and make sure to not touch your spine at all. Alternatively, you can try the trending the vibrating foam roller, so you can control the intensity of massage with your body weight!

Can You Use a Massage Gun on the Cervical Area?

We would highly recommend avoiding using a massage gun in the cervical area if you suffer from neck injuries such as a cervical bulging disc, DDD, or neck arthritis.

This could cause a possible trauma if not by a professional and could lead to further muscle and spinal damage.

Instead, consider using a gentler cervical massager.

👉 See the best selling gentle neck massagers.

Is a Massage Gun Safe for Low Back Inflammation?

If you suffer from an inflamed lower back, you may want to steer clear from massage guns for now, or use cautiously if you have any of these conditions:

  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Fasciitis

Also, we advise pregnant women to avoid using a massage gun altogether.

✅ The Top 4 Massage Guns (for Back Pain Relief)

If you’ve decided that a massage gun is right for you, we saved you a lot of time and found the 3 most versatile massage guns for back pain, all of them have a low-intensity option, which we think is safer for back injuries.

1. Renpho Massage Gun Best for Muscle Knots

renpho massage gun

Renpho massage guncheck price on Amazon

With no less than 20 speed options and 4 attachment heads, this lightweight yet powerful massage gun is highly versatile and can be adjusted to any level of tolerance you are at, wherever you are (it’s cordless!).

This 100% portable high-quality massage gun is quiet (less than 63.5 db at the highest speed) and the rechargeable battery lasts for 8 hours (!) after a single charge.

  • The ball head is best for large muscle groups like (quads/glutes) and joint soreness.
  • The bullet head is best for deep tissues, joints, and trigger points.
  • The hammer head is best for all parts of the body.
  • The U-shaped head is best for around the spine, neck, and shoulders.

👉 Best for – back muscle knots, muscle soreness, preventing pain after a workout, muscle recovery, joint pain

renpho massage gun review

Massage type – percussion.

Percussion speed – 3200 percussions per minute.

Speed options – 20 (ideal for varying levels of pain)

Battery life –  single battery unit, lasts about 8 hours. Recharges in 2-3 hours.

Weight: 2.14 pounds.

Attachments – 4

Price – check today’s sale price on Amazon

2. Hyperice (Hypervolt Model)  Best for Sciatica

Hyperice Hypervolt massage gun review

Hyperice massage gun – with low-intensity speed options – best price on Amazon 

The Hyperice massage gun is a perfect fit for people who may be injured by a powerful massage gun (like the popular Theragun) and is a gentler, quieter massager, perfect for people who cannot take too much pain, yet just as effective.

hypervolt massage gun review

👉 Best for – back muscle knots, sciatica, muscle tightness, preventing pain after a workout, muscle recovery.

Massage type – percussion & vibration.

Percussion speed – 1800 to 3200 percussion per minute.

Speed options – 5 (ideal for varying levels of pain)

Battery life –  single battery unit, lasts about 2.5 hours. Recharges under 6 hours.

Weight: 2.5 pounds.

Attachments – 4 (round/flat/bullet/ fork). The fork is great for in between the shoulders)

✅ Price – we found the best price on Amazon

3. Exerscribe Vybe Pro Cordless Massage Gun  Most Attachments

exerscribe vybe pro massage gun

Exerscribe Vybe Pro Massage guncheck price on Amazon

The Exerscribe massage gun is a good starter massager for you to see if you even like and benefit from massage guns.

Why?

Because the price is lower than most percussion massage guns yet it’s similar in its shape and function, with 9 speed settings you can choose from to fit your pain level accurately.

Plus, it’s completely portable (cordless) and is perfect to use at work or travel.

exerscribe vybe pro massage gun review

👉 Best for – deep pressure massage, back muscle recovery.

Speed options – 9

Battery life – 3 hours (1 lithium-ion battery included)

Massage type – percussion (1800 to 3400 strokes per minute)

Massage heads – 8 attachments to fit different muscle groups (Large Ball, Fork, Flat Head, Wedge Head, Bullet Head, and more)

Weight – 2.5 pounds

Price – Almost half the price of the Hypervolt – on Amazon.

4. OPOVE M3 Pro Massage Gun Best Seller

percussion massage gun for back pain

Opove M3 massage gun save 10% with coupon “opove” on the official site

Through our research, the OPOVE massage gun is the best-selling massage gun on Amazon right now and is considered by users to be the best lower-price alternative to the Hypervolt massager reviewed above.

Users on Amazon claim that it’s the best thing under the sun even if you have a bulging disc, sciatica, or Fibromyalgia, and they like the high-quality build.

opove m3 pro massage gun review

👉 Best for – chronic back pain, muscle recovery after a workout, deep tissue, back muscle injuries, sciatica

Battery life – single Lithium battery, lasts for about 3 hours of continuous use.

Massage type – percussion & vibration (up to 3200 strokes per minute)

Massage heads – 4

Speed options – 3

Weight – 2.2 pounds

👉 Opove Coupon Code

Right now, you can get a 10% discount for the Opove massage gun – with coupon code “opove” – on the official site!

Massage Gun Benefits

Here’s how you can benefit from a high-quality massage gun:

  • Improving blood circulation to the pain area
  • Increasing oxygen supply to the area
  • Reducing the accumulation of lactic acid (after a workout)
  • Decreasing the occurrence of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness(DOMS)

The result?

Faster muscle recovery after working out or overuse of back muscles at work, while increasing flexibility and range of motion and speeding up muscle healing after soft tissue injuries. 

And a great bonus:

When used correctly and at the right time, massage therapy can help you reduce stress and sleep better.

Why?

Because muscle pain relief calms the nervous system and helps to fall asleep – especially if you use it a few minutes before bedtime.

How to Use a Massage Gun for Back Pain

  • First, turn on the massage gun without putting it against your body, for better control.
  • Then, rest it on your lower/upper back muscles without adding any pressure. Next, glide the percussion gun along the muscle slowly – about an inch a second or slower.
  • If you hit a muscle knot or a more tender area, let the massage tool just rest on that spot – without adding more pressure to it – before moving on.
  • Breathe slowly and feel the relief.

A few minutes of back massage is enough to get the benefits of a massage gun. There’s no need for more than this.

Warning – avoid the bones. You probably won’t cause any damage if you accidentally hammer at a bone, but it won’t be comfortable. Focus on large muscle groups until you get the hang of using the massager.

Here’s a short video demonstrating how to use it. Notice the gun barely touching the skin:

Bottom Line: Massage Guns for Back Pain Pros & Cons

Here’s the bottom line:

A massage gun is great for muscle recovery after working out and make a very efficient sports massager for athletes. if used cautiously, they can help greatly for people with chronic back pain from sciatica, arthritis, muscle strain, and back stiffness as well.

Pros

  • Powerful percussion massagers
  • A few minutes of daily treatment is enough to get the benefits
  • Portable and can be taken to work or travel and use anywhere

Cons

  • May cause further injuries if not used properly or overused
  • Is not fit for people with low pain tolerance
  • High price (compared with less powerful handheld back massagers)

We hope you’ve found this post useful. Let us know if you have any questions or share your experience with percussion massage for back pain – in the comment section below. 😊

Pro Tip

Combine traction therapy at home to enhance healing from back injuries. See all about back traction at home!

References

Crawford C, Boyd C, Paat CF, et al. The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part I, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population. Pain Med. 2016;17(7):1353–1375. doi:10.1093/pm/pnw099

Tiffany Field, et al.  (2005) CORTISOL DECREASES AND SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE INCREASE FOLLOWING MASSAGE THERAPY, International Journal of Neuroscience, 115:10, 1397-1413, DOI: 10.1080/00207450590956459

Imtiyaz S, Veqar Z, Shareef MY. To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):133–136. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971

Nina C. Franklin, Mohamed M. Ali, Austin T. Robinson, Edita Norkeviciute, Shane A. Phillips. Massage Therapy Restores Peripheral Vascular Function following ExertionArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.02.007

Meital James
 

Meital James, Founder and CEO of 4 healthy living blogs, has a background in Naturopathic medicine, research, journalism, and nutrition. Her blogs are the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and experience and all the posts are verified by scientific findings.

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