The Hydragun is not so much as a personal massager but a sports recovery tool. Designed by a fitness buff and Muay Thai competitor, this is a ‘high performance percussive massage gun’. It’s made from futuristic-sounding materials like nano silica gel and aerospace grade aluminium. It can vibrate between 1200 to 3200 rpm to deliver a deep-tissue massage, and has a battery that can last up to 6 hours, depending on the settings. So, it all sounds impressive but what sets it apart from the other ‘massage guns’ on the market?
Let’s start with the build. When your hands are on it, you will notice the quality. It’s weighty but balanced, has a sleek design and the aluminium and rubberised surfaces feel premium.
Controls are positioned on the end of the unit, and consist of white LEDs to indicate power, 6 vibration settings (gears), 3 levels of battery charge and a ‘stall’ indicator. The stall indicator measures the torque exerted on the massage head and lets you know if you’re pushing too hard. It’s good to see this included although I didn’t push hard enough to trigger a warning, so the motor is up to the job.
There’s a rechargeable battery, which means you don’t need to fuss with cables. Expect about 3 to 6 hours of charge from the 2600mAh battery, depending on the settings you choose. Recharging takes about 3 or 4 hours, and you can check the battery level on the display panel.
The Hydragun comes in a semi-soft carrying case with 6 separate massage heads. This includes two stainless steel-capped ‘flat heads’, which are designed for harder massages as they spread the force outwards. There’s another smaller plastic flat head which has a little more give than the steel. The large ball head is for big muscle groups, and its softer shape is great for working around bony structures like knees and ankles. The Fork attachment has dual points for deeper penetration on medium muscle groups like calves, forearms and shoulders. Lastly, there’s the bullet head, which has a pointy end and looks menacing but is just brilliant for pinpointing joints, the soles of your feet or suborn knots.
Putting it to the test
The Hydragun is intended to be used for all stages of exercise. This includes 30 seconds per muscle group before your workout, 15 seconds per muscle group while working out and 2 minutes per muscle group afterwards. You can take the whole kit on the road, although it’s not waterproof so don’t use it in the rain.
I wanted to see how it could help my muscle soreness and recovery after my kick-boxing sessions. They Hydragun’s small size (1.04kg) and battery operation meant that I could pull it out of my gym bag right after training and hit my muscles during cool-down and stretching.
If you do plan to use it in a public setting or locker room, the Hydragun is, thankfully, quiet. It makes a buzzing sound but only at about 30 or so decibels, which is probably similar to an electric toothbrush or a regular conversation.
My favourite attachment was the bullet head, as the narrow, pointed end could really get in behind my scapula as well as elbow joints, glutes and hips. I also liked the softer ball attachment for ironing out the knots in my quads.
The percussive vibrations range in intensity from 1 to 6. I preferred a higher setting as the lower ones felt a little rough. Also, you need to be strategic about how close you want to get to bones, organs and head. My stomach began to get a bit queasy when massaging parts of my lower back. I also felt a little odd bouncing my brain around when massaging my upper neck. The other challenge is reaching positions on your back when holding the gun yourself. This is where a partner could really help, but you can still reach many places on your own.
Price and availability
The Hydragun is priced at $399 and comes with an 18 month warranty. You can order it directly from the company’s website here. Shipping is free in Australia and there’s a 30-day guarantee if you’re not happy. However, you will need to pay a restocking fee if the product has been opened. Also, returns require you to pay for the shipping, so keep this in mind.
I’ve used other massage guns before, but they lacked what the Hydragun has: high-quality materials, quiet operation, cordless design and a great selection of massage attachment heads. It’s not cheap but you do get what you pay for. I felt better after my workouts with less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you are serious about your training, the Hydragun is a great way to maximise your recovery.