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Is this £375 massage gadget the post-exercise pain reliever you never knew you needed?

Liz Connor tries out the Theragun, a new recovery gadget that claims banish the discomfort you feel the day after lifting heavy and sweating hard

Pain killer: the theragun relives discomfort after exercise
Pain killer: the theragun relives discomfort after exercise

By Liz Connor

If you're the type of fitness masochist that only feels like you've got a good workout if you're gasping for breath in a pool of sweat, then you'll probably be familiar with the concept of DOMS.

Delayed onset-muscle soreness is the scientific name for the pain you feel in the days after working out; the type of total-body torture that makes it agony to walk down the stairs, painful to laugh and a Herculean effort to sit down on the toilet.

We all know that discomfort is not fun, which is why there's a growing industry around the concept of recovery that goes way beyond a quick session on the foam roller or a rushed shoulder massage from your partner.

Leading the charge is a trendy new handheld gadget called Theragun (theragun.com), that's making a decent amount of noise both on the fitness scene and on A-listers' Instagram accounts - apparently Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and several NBA sports stars are big fans. It uses something called 'percussive therapy' to treat stiff muscles, banish pain and make your rest days slightly more bearable.

How does it work?

The pro-therapy tool looks a bit like an electric drill and it comes with a plethora of rubber attachments that apply different types of targeted treatment to the body. When you switch it on, the massage head moves at a lightening-fast pace so you can jackhammer it against your aching muscles and find relief.

The idea is that you run it over each muscle group for 30 seconds and the myofascial release caused by the repetitive movement (around 40 percussion per second) ekes out any knots, cramps and spasms. It's basically an electric foam roller that takes far less effort and can really get into all of the nooks and crannies that you need it too.

The device was invented by chiropractor Dr Jason Wersland, who developed the gadget as a way to treat himself after a nasty motorbike accident in 2007.

"I had a deep need to get rid of my pain. I'd say that pain is probably one of the biggest motivators for anyone," he says.

"My brother is a chiropractor too and had been in a waterskiing accident the year before and I'd seen him use a machine that was kind of similar, so I called and said, 'Hey, what was that?'

"I found I had one (of the devices) in our office too and that was the first introduction I had to vibration working on the pain."

He continues: "I was fascinated by what it was doing but I couldn't find anything on Google about pain, percussion and vibration - so I started experimenting with pain and percussive therapy, and I found that the longer it was on the body the more the pain went away.

"Vibration typically has a horizontal impact on the body. So I developed something stronger and started using it at the beginning of 2008 and got myself so I wasn't dealing with the pain so much anymore."

Pain killer: the theragun relives discomfort after exercise
Pain killer: the theragun relives discomfort after exercise

Wersland's road to self-treatment put the wheels in motion for developing a tool that others could use to relieve pain and help with muscle recovery.

Previously, Theragun was the type of thing that you'd only see pro-athletes or celebrities using, but the brand has just launched in the UK with a more affordable model called the G3 (£375). The main difference between the original G3Pro (£549) and the stripped-back version is that the device isn't as powerful in weight and doesn't have adjustable arm angles - but Theragun claim it still delivers the same effective hit of natural pain relief.

The verdict?

The first thing to know about Theragun is that it looks more intimidating than it actually is. Much like a deep-tissue massage, the tool can feel sore in sensitive places, but once you get used to the sensation it feels amazing after a long workout - particularly along the shoulders and down the spine.

The great thing about Theragun is that, as well as a recovery tool, it can also be used before a workout to activate the muscles and increase range of motion, and between reps to enhance your performance.

I've used it in all three scenarios and definitely felt the benefit at each stage of my training.

As recovery gets more technical, this is a really convenient piece of kit that can save you from all kinds of discomfort - whether your body needs saving after a marathon effort or you simply want to loosen up your shoulders after hunching over a keyboard all day.

Sure, the price tag is a bit of a hit on your wallet, but if you're schlepping to the sports masseuse every month, it might just be the investment that saves you time, effort and money in the long run.

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