Unfortunately I Enjoyed This Ridiculous Pain Relieving Machine

Photo: kennykiernan/Getty Images/iStockphoto

I didn’t think I wanted a $399 gunlike massage tool, but they sent one to the office, and it turned out to be pretty fun. You turn it on and it pummels you with 40 pounds of thumping percussive pressure, wherever you aim it.

The Theragun is designed for “muscle pain relief, performance enhancement, and faster recovery,” per its literature, and it’s been around since 2016, so readers may already be familiar. (According to Men’s Health, Theraguns are “proliferating.” The NBA’s Kyrie Irving and the NFL’s Antonio Brown are apparently fans, and a competitor, the Hypervolt, is popular among Crazy Ex-Girlfriend cast members.) The latest Theragun model, the G3, which is what I’ve been trying, looks a bit like a sleek, gigantic geometric vibrator. But it’s definitely not a sex toy (from the warnings section: “Do not use the G3 on your head or near your genitals”), and the pleasure it brings is decidedly unsexual.

Floating it (drilling it) into my thigh put me into a weird trance, where it felt like my eyes were rolling back into my head, and I felt like a cat being petted. The instructions call wielding the Theragun “floating” (as in, “float the Theragun on the palms of your hands …”), presumably because “floating” sounds better than shooting, pummeling, zapping, punching, or drilling. But all of those things were how it felt, in a pleasant, numbing way. Shortly after the Theragun arrived, I brought it around the office to show some co-workers. One noted that it looked like a hand mixer, although most agreed that it looked sexual. One ran it — sorry, floated it — over her forearm with a weird look on her face.

The G3 is billed as the quietest Theragun model yet, although it was still loud enough that when I tested it at my desk, colleagues told me that they could hear me using it from 40 feet away. (One Amazon reviewer noted that its predecessor, the G2, was so loud “that in a normal gym environment, everyone will stop whatever they’re doing and look at you.” In the Amazon listing for the G2PRO, which is no longer available, Theragun writes: “We have heard your feedback that the G2PRO is too loud for many users.”) Both the Theragun G3 and G3PRO have 4.5-star average reviews on Amazon, with users noting “decreased soreness” and “tension relief,” although some still note the noise (“sounds like a power tool”). The PRO comes with more attachments, has an adjustable arm, pummels with 20 pounds more force, and costs $200 more.

Designed by a chiropractor recovering from a motorcycle injury, the Theragun claims to be energizing, pain-relieving, tension-relieving, and performance-enhancing. I can’t speak to any of those, exactly, although I can confirm that it is fun and funny. It’s also about as heavy and wieldable as a drill (it’s a little under three pounds), or maybe an ergonomic staple gun. (The longer I have it, the more I wonder if it’s too intense. I know I’m not supposed to use it on my head, but if I did, would it jiggle my thoughts away? At one point, I floated it high enough up my thigh that I sort of felt like I had to pee … Also, pregnant users are encouraged to consult a physician before use.) As one pain-management specialist told the Strategist last year, about the G2 model, “all it is is just a more sophisticated massage device.” Also: “For some people [looking to use a massage device], just using a rolling pin might help, and a rolling pin is certainly much less expensive than this.”

If you do feel like spending $399 on a loud, health-goth hand mixer for your body — or you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, or you’ve got colleagues to confuse, annoy, and intrigue — or you’re interested in maybe punishing a loved one in the form of a massage (I can see it), then the Theragun may be for you. My initial infatuation has worn off, and I now have a white one that’s up for grabs.

Unfortunately I Enjoyed This Ridiculous Pain Relief Machine