Massage Gun vs Foam Roller – Which Works Best?

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Massage therapy has come a long way since its early years. In the 70s, massage therapy was nothing compared to what it is now. For one, massage therapy was mainly used by athletes and other sports people as part of their conditioning regimen. These days, we have a better understanding of the value of massage, and massage is now available to everyone. You don’t even have to visit a massage therapist! There are lots of massage devices available that can be used to massage just about any part of the body, that can be used from the comfort of your own home. In this article, we are going to look at two popular massage gadgets and compare the pros and cons of each. Massage guns vs foam rollers – let the comparison begin!

First let’s take a look at the foam roller:

Foam Roller

If you’re a fitness enthusiast, then there’s a good chance you’ve heard of foam rollers or even used one. But what exactly are they and what do they do?

A foam roller is essentially a cylindrical piece of foam that you use to massage your muscles. By using your body weight to apply pressure to the roller, you can help to break up scar tissue and knots in your muscles. This can help improve flexibility and blood flow, as well as relieve muscle soreness. Foam rollers come in different sizes and densities with different degrees of firmness.

Advantages of using a foam roller

1. Foam rollers are the cheapest way to relieve muscle tension. Foam rollers are inexpensive and can be purchased for as little as $10 online or at your local sporting goods store

2. Foam rollers can be used for self-massage. It’s an effective way to improve posture, reduce back pain, and decrease muscle stiffness.

3. The foam roller is easy to use – just place it on the floor and lie on it, positioning yourself so that pressure is applied to the area you want to treat.

4. Foam rolling will help you recover faster from workouts, races, or other strenuous activities

It is true that the foam roller works great for some things (like massage of knots), however, there are definitely some drawbacks to using it as well.  For example, the foam roller is not great for targeting small areas.  In addition to that, it’s just plain hard to dig into those deeper tissues with a foam roller!

man using a foam roller

The following are some disadvantages of using a foam roller:

1. Foam rollers are bulky, making them difficult to travel with.

3. If you have a lot of muscle tension in one area, it may not reach all your muscles because they’re too close together. It also massages on a relatively shallow scale.

4. Foam rolling is uncomfortable for some people due to the pressure applied to the body.

5. It’s hard to find a comfortable position when foam rolling – especially if there are any knots or tightness in certain areas.

So, foam rollers have their good and bad points. But what about massage guns? Are they any better, or should you stick with foam rolling?

Massage Gun

massage gun vs foam roller

A massage gun is “gun shaped” device that uses high-frequency vibrations to massage muscle tissue. It’s been shown to be an effective way to improve circulation, relieve muscle tension, and reduce pain. If you’re looking for a new way to improve your fitness and wellbeing, then a massage gun may be just what you need. Like foam rollers though, there are advantages and disadvantages to massage guns.

Advantages of using a massage gun

1. Massage guns are a great way to relieve sore muscles and can be used for deep tissue massage.

2. They can be used pretty much anywhere. Most are small enough to fit in a gym bag or briefcase for easy portability.

3. You don’t need any oils or lotions to use them.

4. It’s more affordable than going for a professional massage.

6. Massage guns are easy and convenient – you just plug it in and go!

Disadvantages of massage guns

Massage guns can be expensive depending on which one choose. There are cheaper models, but the cheap ones often are poorly made and not very durable.

They can be dangerous if used incorrectly – The vibration from the gun may cause bruising and other injuries if used for long periods of time, on the wrong areas of the body, or on injured muscles. Of course, you could cause some damage using a foam roller as well.

So what are the main differences between foam rollers and massage guns?

Massage guns can both massage deeper into your tissues, as well as massage on a smaller scale for more targeted stimulation. A massage gun is a great option for trigger point therapy as it can be used to massage small, difficult to treat areas with knots. Massage guns usually come with a range of different interchangeable massage heads that can be used to better target and treat different parts of the body with different muscle ailments.

In addition, massage guns have been shown to massage up to 16mm into the muscle (that’s with the Theragun, not all massagers have this stroke length) which is much deeper than a foam roller. The average massage gun has a 10-12mm stroke length – the distance it moves in to the muscle. It’s harder to get a deep tissue massage with a foam roller in the specific areas you need to treat as it’s bigger, bulkier and more awkward to use.

Do massage guns offer the same benefits as foam rollers?

Massage guns are actually quite similar to foam rollers in terms of muscle massage, but massage guns offer a deeper massage.  In addition, massage guns are more versatile massage tools that can be used not only on muscles, but also on things like trigger points to help with pain release.

Massage guns are easier to use to treat hard to reach areas. With foam rollers, you have to get down on the ground and roll around on your roller in some awkward positions just to hit the right muscles. Massage guns are ergonomically shaped in such a way that you can hold them in your hand and still reach most areas of the body relatively easily.

Conclusion – Massage Gun vs foam roller, which is best?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both massage guns and massage rollers.  In essence, they offer similar benefits to muscles in terms of massage therapy, but have different qualities which make them more suited for treating specific areas of the body better.

If you’re on a budget and just want something cheap to roll out your muscles after a good workout then a foam roller might be just what you need. Foam rolling is a cheap, effective method of massage and is very popular among fitness enthusiasts.

If however, you’re lacking in mobility, you might find it difficult to get down on the floor and use the foam roller to hit the right places. It can be awkward to use. In this case, a massage gun, while more expensive, is definitely the easier option. Even with good mobility, sometimes it’s just nicer to take the easier option anyway – particularly if you’ve just done a hard workout!

A good massage gun can typically cost from $100-$300, and if you really want to go “pro”, you can pay up to $600! It really isn’t necessary to pay high end prices though to get a good percussion massager. One of the main benefits of a massage gun (other than the fact that it’s much easier to use) is that it has different massage attachments for different muscles. The bullet attachment is particularly good for the releasing and softening of muscles with trigger point therapy. A foam roller can be used for myofascial release, but it can be harder to hit the right spot.


So foam roller vs massage gun – which is it?

The decision is yours! Personally, I prefer a massage gun, but I do use my foam roller occasionally too. If you don’t want to rush out and buy the latest and greatest piece of massage technology (that is the massage gun) then a good foam roller will still do the trick.

About James Hall

James H is the main author of Handheld Massager Guide. He is a self-confessed "fitness freak", currently spending his time blogging and training for a marathon. He is passionate about the benefits of massage for muscle recovery and loves testing & reviewing gadgets to improve performance.

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