The body of evidence in favor of self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques has been steadily growing. Research has shown that SMR can increase joint mobility and range of motion and reduce muscle soreness. It is used by personal trainers, athletic trainers and physical therapists alike to prevent and treat injuries in clients.

Though other options (such as medicine balls) have also been available for many years, the most common tool for SMR has been the foam roller—an inexpensive, easily accessible and effective solution. Before or after a workout the roller is applied to tight muscles to provide deep-tissue massage that reduces the likelihood of injury.

A Trend in SMR

Now, there’s a high-tech trend for achieving a similar effect: vibration massage tools. You have likely seen ads for these products, as the 2018 Christmas season witnessed a major marketing push for them.

Among the more popular are these three:

  • TimTam Power Massager
  • Hyperice Hypervolt
  • Theragun

To varying degrees, many vibration massage tools look—and sound—a bit like a hand drill or other power tool you’d find in a hardware store. (It should be noted that Hyperice does provide quiet glide technology, which creates less noise.) An oscillating ball or other attachment targets fascial muscles with a precision that foam rollers don’t have.

With a price range of $199–$600, vibration massage tools are much more expensive than a foam roller or medicine ball. Of course, the question is, Are they worth the cost?

The short answer is yes.

Comparing Technologies

Using a vibration massage tool is about more than just having the latest gadget. These tools are considerably more efficient than lower-tech options. They allow you to save time and target muscles more precisely while providing a more enjoyable experience for clients.

Dr. Brian Oddi, assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at California University of Pennsylvania, notes, “There is good research on vibration massage, and the body of knowledge continues to grow with the new tools that are entering the market. The new technology is attractive to trainers and clients for its efficacy and optimal recovery.”

As a result, vibration massage tools are a great tool to add to your arsenal.

They are not, however, a replacement for lower-tech options. There will continue to be a place for foam rollers—for example, they are still a great choice for clients who need less intensity.

In short, vibration massage tools give you an additional option to better tailor the SMR technique to the client’s needs.

Staying on the Cutting Edge

There are several useful reviews of vibration massage tools out there—many compare the Theragun to the Hypervolt, allowing you to easily consider which is best for your clients.

What’s more, you can learn more about how to use these and other cutting-edge technologies and techniques through an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in Exercise Science from California University of Pennsylvania, which partners with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and Fusionetics®.


Kalichman, L., & Ben David, C. (2017) Effects of self-myofascial release on myofascial pain, muscle flexibility, and strength: A narrative review. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 21, 446–451.

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