With more and more handheld massage devices entering the market, you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s little difference between them all besides the price and colour. But if you take a closer look you’ll see that there’s more to these recovery tools than meets the eye.
Everything starts with the motor. One of the first things anyone will notice when picking up a massage device is how loud it is. Early pioneers in this industry argued that loud = more power. Tim the Tool Man Taylor, anyone? We’ve always disagreed with this theory and have put it down to poor engineering. When shopping for a tool the metrics to look out for are stall force, decibel, and PPM (percussion per minute).
If a device has a low stall force, you won’t be able to work some muscle groups hard enough to release tension. If it has a high decibel rating it’s going to be too noisy to use and could be uncomfortable to use near ears. It also means you couldn’t use in a professional office setting or for a physio it could be draining to use all day. Something like a hand drill is around 100 decibels, whereas the hum of a refrigerator is around 50 decibels. You want to look for a device that doesn’t go past the 60 decibels mark to ensure it will be acceptable in society!
A recovery tool with a low PPM it won’t operate fast enough to deliver a true percussive massage. A lesser quality device will either play off being whisper quiet but actually be very low power, or talk up it’s power but not mention how loud it really is. A truly powerful and quiet brushless motor is a great thing.
How long a device lasts is key when deciding it’s intended use. A tool with only a few hours battery life will never be suitable in a professional setting where it will be in use all day. For day in day out use you’d expect to see at least a 2600 Mah battery. For someone purchasing a tool for personal use 1500 Mah would be sufficient. A device with a removable battery will also reduce the risk of running out of charge, as you can keep a spare battery in reserve. This would be especially useful for a professional using the tool continuously.
Arguably this point is down to personal preference as to what you like but there are still a few points to keep in mind. A device should be ergonomic to use. Anything that doesn’t fit comfortably in your hand won’t be pleasant to use. Watch out for multiple appendages sticking out, as this is a sure sign of a poor internal build that can’t keep all the moving parts within a standard body. On the flip side, watch out for tools with particularly long or thin handles as they will likely fail under too much pressure. The battery is generally stored within the handle, but watch out for devices where the whole handle can be removed as this can lead to connection point weakness at the join.
The Build Quality
The truth of this industry is that a lot of companies have never seen the device that they are selling. This means they have no oversight of the quality of the tool they have built their brand around. A company that produces their own device in house has the ability to ensure strict quality control is being carried out on the materials sourced and the manufacturing of the product. This will result in less broken products being returned and greater brand trust.
Attention needs to be given to the one part of the device that actually touches your body. Interchangeable heads are a must to make sure you have the right recovery option available to hand. At a minimum you should have a head made of a softer material to ensure you don’t inflame injuries further, a head with a smaller diameter to pinpoint tough knots and a forked head to help avoid sensitive spots like your spine. When it comes to heads, the more the merrier!
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a device to purchase. Look out for reviews from professionals as they are the ones who use the tools day in and day out. Spending a bit more time researching could save you a lot of heartache (or backache) in the future!