And you ain't got either!
Percussive massage devices; massage guns, vibrating rollers, vibro plates, vibrating spherical objects. What do they do and are they worth your money?
As with all my recent articles I’m going to front load the short answer for those who just want the juice with none of the squeeze. At their current price point most products aren’t worth your money since overall they don’t really do much, nor anything unique.
Photo by: Tom Hosking Wedding
Story time children, recently we were approached via email by Hyperice, a company that sells various recovery based products. Although upon immediate reading I was thrilled to hear about HypeRice and how they’d manage to change Uncle Ben’s favourite grain. Sadly they mainly sell percussive massage devices, and no ice either, I asked.
We received three free products from Hyperice:
The Hypervolt £249
The Vyper 2.0 £139
The Hypersphere £139
Prices listed are retail listings on their own website. It’s pretty clear we aren’t talking spare change kind of money here, this is some serious money for the average person. If you’ve read one of my previous articles on recovery you’ll know that the combination of info from people in the research field blendered up with my ~11 years of anecdotal experience that collaborates into the thick chunky smoothie that makes up my opinion, doesn’t rate many alternative recovery strategies very highly, especially when compared to eating and sleeping.
So, what do these products do? Not very much. So far the research I’ve found is very limited, which isn’t surprising given that they’re relatively new on the market. One study tested ankle range of movement (ROM) and max contraction after a 5 minute session with a massage gun, against a control group of folk who didn’t. The group who used the massage guns found a significant increase in ankle ROM and no increase in max contraction force. The acute increase in ROM wasn’t stacked up against any other protocol and my gut tells me that if they had a 3rd group that did a 2minute cv warm up followed by some knee to wall or other ankle mobility drill, I doubt there would be any difference, I’d be more surprised if the warmup/mob group didn’t have the biggest difference in both stats.
Is there ANY benefit to purchasing one of these devices? Sure, but it’s not very much for the money unless you have Scrooge McDuck cash. For one thing it’s much easier and more time efficient than traditional foam rolling/LAX ball rolling. You don’t have to lie on the floor at odd angles or go chasing after a ball that rolls out mid glute pass. You can just sit/lie there and blast your tissues at a selection of 3 different speeds, and it even has a pressure sensor built in so you can maintain the same pressure session to session. They even have an app that you can download on your phone which guides you through various pre-generated sessions and gives you some structure with how you use it. The Hypervolt comes with several different attachments for different levels of intensity or precision, including a padded one for areas like your neck. Speaking to a friend who works as a sports therapist, they bought one of these around 4 years ago and it’s still going, so the build quality seems legit. The Hypervolt itself is a very well made product with plenty of bells and whistles, alongside premium build quality and ergonomics.
Overall I can’t knock the products themselves, however I just don’t feel like they solve the problem they claim to solve. If you detest foam rolling but desire a more robust, efficient pre workout tissue modality, and are okay spending £250 to fulfil that need then pull the trigger. If you’re currently just doing a cardio warm up and some specific movement drills ahead of your training sessions you aren’t missing out on some golden ticket to the next level, if you’re on the fence why not come by the gym and try 'em out and see what you think?
If you have any questions, comment, dank memes, please hit me up in the comments or on our socials @atsapproved.