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Tech & Wearables

Theragun Elite review

The Theragun Elite makes recovery and light massage convenient at home. You don't even have to get off the couch to knead out your muscles.

Review Rating


Basics

5 speed settings; OLED screen with battery life indicator and pressure sensor; includes 5 closed cell foam tips


Pros

Quick and easy to use; great for post-ride recovery; relatively quiet; app is actually helpful and useful

Cons

Expensive; not ideal for stowing in a suitcase during travel


Our Thoughts

The Elite from Theragun offers a daily care solution for post-ride recovery and relaxation. It's a solidly built unit that's quieter than its predecessor, and while it isn't cheap, the Elite offers enough benefits — through the unit itself and the integrated app — to justify its price. It has become a part of my regular recovery routine.


Weight

1006 grams

Price

$400

Brand

Theragun


Time and time again, cycling has proven to be both exceptionally beneficial to the body and abusive toward it. Theragun’s Elite is a muscle treatment device meant to counter some of the latter so you can enjoy more of the former. The Elite uses percussive impacts to stimulate blood flow and loosen up your muscles, and you can do it all from the comfort of your couch. It’s super convenient and it’s a joy to use after long rides. The Elite also lowers the volume substantially from the original version, which means you won’t drive your spouse from the room every time you use it.

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Theragun Elite basics

Theragun Elite
The Elite is light enough for regular use. I used the unit for ten minutes or more without fatigue. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

The Elite’s handle allows you to maneuver it easily to various parts of your body, including your lower back. It certainly looks balky at first, and I’ll admit that on my first go, I found it difficult to handle. But once I got a sense of the tool’s balance and its positioning capabilities, the Elite became an easy tool to use as part of my recovery and relaxation. It is especially adept at providing a usable handhold to get at my hips and lower back — two major pain points for me.

Theragun Elite
The triangle-shaped handle allows you to position the unit behind your back or shoulders easily. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

The controls live on the top handle. Hold the center button to turn on the Elite, then use the up and down buttons to control the speed of the percussive bits. The OLED display lets you know what speed you’re at, as well as how much battery life you’ve got left. Theragun says you should get 120 minutes out of a charge. I finally had to charge the unit after almost a week’s worth of use, so the battery life seems to be in the ballpark of Theragun’s claims. To recharge, just use the included charger and plug it into a wall outlet. (There’s also a charging stand, sold separately for $80, if you’re not into the wall wart thing.)

Theragun Elite
The photo is a bit blurry because the Elite is shaking from the percussive force of the motor, but the OLED screen is clear and easy to read in-person. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

The construction of the device feels solid and well-built. The percussive tip is fixed in place; you can bump up to the Theragun Pro if you want a rotating tip that allows for more positioning angles. The Pro also has a longer battery life, but it costs $100 more than the Elite. The Elite weighs 1,006 grams without attachments, which is light enough to be maneuverable and manageable for short to medium massage sessions.

Using the Therabody app

You can use the Theragun Elite without the app, of course, but the app does offer a lot of great guided sessions and other features to make it worth checking out. The app also integrates with Google Fit, Apple Health, and Samsung health, and will suggest routines based on the information it receives from that connectivity.

Therabody app
Therabody app. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

After pairing your device to the Therabody app, you can customize your massaging routines based on recommendations from the app itself. These timed, guided routines allow you to target specific parts of your body. The app can tell you how to hold the device, whether you’re applying enough pressure in real time, where you should be positioning the device, and when to move it. You can also adjust the device’s speed using a slider, which means you can position it between the built-in preset speeds on the device itself (of which there are five).

Theragun app
Therabody app routines. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

The app is most useful if you’ve never used a massage tool before. But even if you have, the app can help you more accurately target the correct muscles and give you a sense of the best ways to leverage the unique shape of the Theragun Elite. My experience with the app was largely positive, though to be fair, I did a lot more “freehand” massaging than anything else, since it’s quicker and I don’t need my phone to do it.

The Elite in practice

The Elite is sold with five tips so you can customize not only the durometer, but also the shape of the percussive impacts on your body. I found the largest and softest tip to work the best for everyday massaging, but the cone-shaped tip is great for digging in a bit deeper; this came in handy when my hips would tighten up.

massage tips
Four additional massage tips are included on top of the one that was already fitted to the Theragun Elite out of the box. Everything gets stored in a handsome, hard-sided case. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

Each of the five tips serves a specific purpose as outlined on Theragun’s website. That provides a good starting point, though after experimenting with each one, you’ll find what parts of your body benefit the most from each bit.

The controls are intuitive and easy enough to get the hang of out of the box. The Theragun Elite starts at the highest speed setting when you turn it on, but it’s quick and easy to turn it down if you want to.

OLED screen
You can control the unit using the buttons on the top handle, below the OLED screen. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

While Theragun did work hard to make the Elite a much quieter unit than its previous models, the Elite isn’t exactly whisper-quiet. That said, I would hardly call it so loud as to be problematic. Sure, you’ll have to turn up the Netflix volume a bit, but you won’t alienate our family or neighbors with it. I didn’t find the noise to be much of a problem.

The pressure monitor also displays on the OLED screen on the device itself, so you can monitor how much pressure you’re applying at any given time. This is of course dependent on the screen being visible to you, which isn’t always possible, especially when you’re massaging your back or shoulders. I didn’t use this feature much when I was just using the device sans-app, as I felt I was getting enough benefit simply going by feel.

closed cell foam tip
I found the large foam tip to be the most useful for general massaging. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

Verdict

I really do love the Theragun Elite. It has made my post-ride recovery process much quicker and more convenient, especially during the COVID-19 era when it’s difficult — if not impossible — to get an in-person massage. No, it doesn’t replace an actual massage, but it’s great for working out muscle knots, getting the blood flowing for faster recovery, and otherwise providing relaxing relief for tightness, soreness, and general fatigue. It’s pricey, but it comes with all the swappable tips you’ll need to dig in deep, or stay superficial, and it comes in a hard-sided case to keep everything neatly organized. If you’re a traveler, you’ll probably want to opt for the Theragun Mini, but for regular home use, it’s tough to beat the Theragun Elite.

Theragun Elite
The Theragun Elite comes with everything you see here: five tips, a charger, a carrying case, and the unit itself. Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com