Perhaps you’ve seen it lauded by celebrities such as Chelsea Handler or Diddy. Or, maybe you spotted it on the Maroon 5 world tour (courtesy of Adam Levine’s Instagram). Or when when DJ Khaled needed some self-care time by the beach. If you’re a sports fan, you may have noticed Kyrie Irving take a time-out during the 2017 NBA Finals to use what looked like a splashy egg beater.
It’s the Theragun, the wildly popular mechanical massage tool celebrated by both A-listers and the rest (provided we can afford the $599 price tag). Celebrities, it should be noted, are not paid for their endorsement: They genuinely can’t get enough of the jackhammer recovery gadget.
“Yes, the Theragun works!” model Ashley Graham wrote on her Instagram stories. “I use it on my traps and sciatic nerve also. This is not a paid promotion, I just wanna feel good.”
Created in 2008 by a Los Angeles chiropractor, Jason S. Wersland, Theragun is a cordless handheld device that provides deep tissue myofacial release by way of 16mm amplitude combined with 2,400 percussions per minute. Fans swear it can do do what their old Brookstone gadgets never could: treat muscle and joint pain, relieve tension, flush out lactic acids, and loosen tight knots. It’s essentially an industrial-grade motor in the palm of one’s hands.
“The ergonomics of the product is such that it can easily balance in your hand,” Wersland tells Fast Company. “It doesn’t require pressure. So you’re allowing the torque in the machine that’s inherent to the product do the work for you–not your hand pushing on the body.”
Of course, the fact that it looks like the robotic version of a woodpecker adds its popularity. It’s a peculiar-looking gadget that, when in action, draws attention (if not mesmerizes audiences). As Wersland explains, “So much of what we do now is on [Instagram] because it’s a perfect product to use on social media. It really shows how it’s moving the body–it’s visually appealing to people.”
Besides Hollywood and the sports industry, it’s also been adopted by the greater medical community. Theragun claims hundreds of physical therapists worldwide now use the products on patients. In fact, Theragun is part of seven scientific studies to better understand its uses and effects on the body.
Apart from reimagining self-massage, Wersland boasts ambitious sights for his creation. He thinks it might even take a bite of the pharmaceuticals industry.
“I would love for this to be something that replaces Advil,” says Wersland, noting, “I know that’s super bold. But I think most of the time people are taking those [medications] for musculoskeletal pain that they could address quickly. [A Theragun] could tie them over until they can get to a physical therapist, trainer, or a massage therapist–someone that can help them further. This allows people to kind of bridge that space.”