Review: Theragun's "Mini" Is Quieter, Just as Effective and More Affordable

We're talking $400 more affordable

Review: Theragun's "Mini" Is Quieter, Just as Effective and More Affordable
Therabody
By Tanner Garrity / May 13, 2020 10:50 am

I reviewed the Theragun G3PRO a year ago this month, and not long after, I started seeing and hearing about the recovery device just about everywhere. I spotted it on the sidelines at NFL games. An exercise physiologist I was meeting for an interview greeted me with a Theragun in one hand. And the kicker — on a daily constitutional somewhere between InsideHook’s office and Central Park, a massive, bright blue Theragun truck. I’m not sure if I was experiencing a textbook case of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, or if the machine just had a really good 12 months. I have to think it’s a mix of the two.

In short, the cat is now fully out of the bag on percussive therapy, a method that mimics the movements of tapotement, a Swedish massage predicated on high-speed hacks and slaps. The Theragun was invented by former chiropractor Dr. Jason Wersland, who had experienced unrelenting pain years after a bad motorcycle accident. He collaborated with the brains over at MIT on a gearbox that would provide on-demand massages, and more elegantly (albeit expensively) handle those tight, deep-tissue trigger points in the glutes and back that were formerly the purview of lacrosse and tennis balls.

I remember being really excited, if a little surprised, to see how well the Theragun worked. There’s a lot of fitness crap out there. Instagram ads are exhausting. It’s easy to get jaded. But the Theragun is legit; it induces blood flow in a rapid manner to soft tissue in muscles, tendons and ligaments throughout the body. With a series of concentrated pulses on one particular spot, it can relax local connective tissue, ease areas long haunted by scars or surgery, and increase the flow of infection-fighting white blood cells. It also elongates muscle fibers while providing relief on joints. This is relevant for anyone with an aging human body. Muscle recovery is as critical for accountants who hunch over a screen 10 hours a day as Olympians who rip two-a-day strength sessions. Ideally, everyone would have access to a percussive therapy device.

Earlier this week, Theragun took a big step toward making that vision a reality, while fixing the few issues that had nagged its previous model. The brand just launched the Theragun mini, a compact, ultra-portable machine at a third of the price of the Theragun PRO.

The Mini has three different speed settings (Therabody).

The release comes alongside a total rebrand for Theragun. The company is actually now Therabody, and is also dipping its toes into the CBD muscle treatment space, with a range of reprieve oils and lotions mixed with eucalyptus oils, peppermint extracts and other ingredients. The full line is called TheraOne, and Therabody managed to obtain a USDA Certified Organic seal, which is predictably rare in the Wild West of cannabidiols. As part of the relaunch, Therabody released updated generations of its various Theragun models, including the Theragun G4PRO (I tested the G3PRO last year), and smaller models like the Elite and Prime.

Of all the announcements, though, I was most excited about the release of the mini. If I had to name three issues with the Theragun G3PRO, I’d have said: noise, size, and price. The Theragun’s biggest, most iconic model comes with its own briefcase, but it’s a doesn’t-leave-the-house piece of personal tech. It’s just too big and clunky. I keep it under my bed. On the noise front, it’s obnoxiously loud. It sounds like a power tool. And the price — $600 — puts the purchase on par with a new TV, or a round-trip flight to Europe. No matter how effective it is in handling soreness, that can be a tough sell. But the mini, I can report, roundly meets those concerns, and does so without sacrificing any of Theragun’s patented power.

Bit of an odd choice, but yeah, you could fit it in your ski jacket (Therabody).

The Theragun mini is about as heavy as a desk paperweight, at 1.2 pounds, and fits easily into the palm of an outstretched hand. There’s an oval groove on the front of the device which serves as an ergonomic grip. On the side, there’s a small slot to connect the machine via plug to an outlet, and above it there’s a start button that can be pressed to shift between three different modes: 1750, 2100, and 2400 PPM. The closed-cell foam attachment at the end connects with the body at a clip of 40 times per second. After experimenting with the mini for a couple weeks, using it before runs, after lifts, or absentmindedly while sitting at my desk doing work, I’ve come to rely on muscle relief in the same way that I appreciated the G3PRO.

How is that even possible? Therabody redesigned its gearbox, and included the innovation, which is billed as QuietForce Technology, across its entire new generation of percussive therapy devices. That includes the mini. The brand figured out how to include the new brushless motor in a smaller, more agile, quieter machine without sacrificing treatment quality. The mini is no louder than an electric toothbrush. A high-maintenance roommate might find it mildly irritating. The size, meanwhile, makes it ideally suited for a suitcase sock compartment, whenever travel gets going again. Alternatively, you could bring it to the track, for a post-run rub-down, or stash it in a backpack, as a cramping fail-safe over a long hike.

In fairness, the mini doesn’t offer the full suite of features as the latest generation of the PRO. The Theragun G4PRO deserves some respect on its name: it includes an OLED screen, pairs via Bluetooth with the Therabody smart app, applies more force to get deeper into the muscle, has twice the battery life, and uses a rotating arm to get hit hot spots at odd angles. But still, it’s impressive that after just one year of R&D, Theragun has successfully released a travel-friendly device that competes with the efficacy of last year’s full-sized, full-priced model. You might not be able to put a price on a pain-free low back, sure, but $199 sounds a whole lot better than $599.

To try out the Theragun mini for yourself, head here. Stay loose out there.

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