Percussive therapy had a moment in 2019.
A burgeoning market of massage devices that look (and sound) like power drills — with names like Theragun G3Pro or Hyperice Hypervolt Plus — have firmly hit the mainstream, as athletes of all ages and abilities have now come to rely on their 60-pounds-of-force, 40-percussions-a-second capacity for easing soreness around the body.
The machines’ punching heads induce blood flow to soft tissue, which in turn relaxes connective tissues and elongates muscle fibers. We’ve used multiple models, and they all work wonders. Fifteen minutes of use after a tough lift or long run is now a crucial portion of my workout routine. For an industry that’s pushed useless crap on an unwitting, credulous public for decades, a product that can actually address common aging ailments (stiff knees, locked backs, sore calves) feels like a near miracle.
That said, there are still some prohibitive elements to bringing one home. The price, for starters. You could fly round-trip to most European cities for the price range of a percussive device, which hovers between $350 and $600. The design is clunky, too. Theragun and Hyperice have made massive ergonomic improvements on their earlier models, but you still wouldn’t take one out of the house. (They comes in briefcases, and have numerous attachments, like a vacuum.) They’re also just super loud.
So we were understandably pumped when Hyperice’s Hypersphere Mini dropped earlier this year. The device, which made our list of the year’s best fitness products, is as effective as the flagship, drill-shaped models, but smaller than a softball. It sources the same style of massage — an electronic riff on the Swedish deep-tissue practice of tapotement — but it does so without sacrificing any portability, and without putting a hole in your wallet. The Mini is just $99 and TSA-approved, and does a good job of hitting spots the larger therapy devices can’t reach (assuming you’re administering them by yourself), like the upper back or the balls of the feet.
All you really need for this thing to do its job is a decent charge (it plugs in USB-style), and a portion of ground that can handle a bit of vibration, be it a yoga mat or a stretch of carpet. It works most effectively when you’re pressing into it, not scraping it against yourself, so find a spot in the hammies that needs a little love, find your preferred mode of power (there are three) and let it dig in.
Oh, and definitely bring this thing on the road. You don’t want to abandon your fitness over vacation or a business trip, and the Mini proves a godsend after a flight.