When I first set out to purchase a massage gun, I came across this phrase – “stall force” and I had no idea what it was. 

Fast forward to 3 years later and being a proud owner of five massage guns, I’ll spill out everything I know about stall force so you don’t have to spend hours reading through countless articles you found on Google.

What Is Stall Force?

Stall force or stall torque measures how much pressure can be applied before the motor stalls. In relation to massage guns, it indicates how powerful it could be when targeting your muscles. Simply put, a higher stall force gives you a deeper and a more aggressive massage while a low stall force offers a light massage to the muscle tissue.

Many massage tools indicate stall force by lbs or kg. A higher number means that your percussion massager will be giving more force to the massage and be able to penetrate deeper into the target area.

Is Having The Highest Stall Force Always Better?

This is an instance when more stall force is not always better. A greater stall force will give you a more intense massage but it’s not something you’d actually need. Think about this – what level of pressure do you prefer when you’re getting a full body massage?

If you prefer a light or medium massage, then a high stall force isn’t necessary for you. Remember – your tolerance for pressure may be very different from others and you don’t want percussion massagers that will give more than you need. Why is that?

Well, that’s because too much pressure applied to an already aching muscle would actually cause more harm than good. Read here for more on delayed onset muscle soreness. In fact, it might be the reason for added injury and cause you to lose more training time because of the pain.

What Is A Good Stall Force?

A good stall force in massage guns depends on the respective owners. If you’re using one for the first time and you’re only starting to build muscles, a stall force of 40 to 45 pounds would give you the ideal massage to help relieve muscle pain from specific muscle groups. Translated, that’s 18 to 20 kg worth of stall force.

As mentioned, more force means a more intense massage. For example, there are percussive guns with a high stall force – as much as 80 pounds or around 36 kg.

However, well-muscled individuals or those who have a built body are typically advised to use 60 pounds of stall force or around 27 kilos of power output. This is because well-built individuals have highly developed muscle categories that provide more resistance against stall force.

If you want to give pain relief to these muscles, you’d need powerful motors that can penetrate deep through the layers of large muscle sets.

Which Massage Gun Has The Highest Stall Force?

The market is currently packed with various massaging products designed to help athletes recover after a particularly powerful workout. Today, percussive massage guns have expanded to service the typical gym-goer, making it easier for people to administer a light massage on themselves in the convenience of their own homes.

As mentioned, a high stall force isn’t always necessary unless you have well-built muscles. If you’re really looking for one with a higher stall force for percussive therapy, however, you can try checking out the Achedaway Pro Percussion and Vibration Massager which has an impressive stall force of 80 lbs.

What is Theragun’s Stall Force?

Perhaps one of the most popular brands in the market today is Theragun, known for its wide variety of options. You have the Theragun Mini, Prime, Elite, and Pro. The Mini already packs a powerful punch, giving 16mm worth of amplitude and a maximum of 60 lbs or 27 kg worth of stall force.

The Pro, which is best used by bodybuilders, has the same stall force and amplitude as the Mini. However, it has a longer battery life that can pop out for quick replacement. It’s also bigger with a larger head area so you target larger parts of the muscle.

Other Factors When Choosing A Massage Gun

Of course, a high or low stall force is just one of the factors you consider when buying a percussive massage gun. The fact is that there are various elements that contribute towards good percussion massagers.

Here’s what you should know before buying a massage gun for yourself:

Stall Force

As previously explained, stall force is the amount of pressure offered by the device. More force gives you a deeper massage and is typically best used for larger muscle groups. If you’re the typical gym-goer, a stall force of 40 to 45 pounds or 18 to 20 kg should be enough to get you started.

However, you can find massage guns with a stall force range anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds (18 to 36 kg) which should give you wider options for small and large muscle categories. Remember that your choice of motor stalls force depends on the resilience of your body.

For example, a stall force of just 20 pounds or 9 kg will automatically stop if pushed against the palm of your hand. Hence, if you have strong and resilient muscles that tend to “push back”, you’ll want a high stall force that lets you successfully push through the hard muscle.

Stroke Length

Stroke length refers to the depth of the massage gun when used on the target area. What makes this different from the stall force? Let’s say that a massage gun is like the arm of a boxer. The stall force would refer to the power of the punch itself.

It refers to the pressure of the punch and how much it would hit your muscles when launched. The stroke length or amplitude refers to the reach of the boxer’s arm. A longer stroke length means that the massage gun can go deeper into the muscles and provide a more targeted press on the muscular surface.

Most brands today have a stroke length of 10 to 16 mm, like the Hyperice Hypervolt. However, you can find smaller models with an amplitude of just 8 mm.

Which one should you choose? Again, that depends on you. Like the motor stalls force, a higher number is generally best for people who have well-built muscles. Imagine a bulk of muscle – a developed one is usually harder and more resilient. It would take a longer stroke length in order to push through the hard muscle. On the other hand, undeveloped muscles are softer and would be easier to penetrate.

But even if your muscles aren’t grown to body-builder proportions, should you still get a percussive gun with a high stroke length? In some cases, yes. You see, a long amplitude could also help if you’re trying to reach tough areas. If the stroke length is long enough, you’ll be able to reach certain spots – like your back or between the shoulder blades – without injuring yourself.

Battery Life

Some massage guns can give an hour-long massage without the need to recharge. Others may be able to provide a shorter battery life in between charges. You need to be mindful of your specific needs when using the device. For example, will you always have access to a charging station during your workouts? Ideally, the percussive gun should have a battery indicator to tell you if there’s a need to replenish the power.

Another important factor to consider would be the battery itself. Can be it be removed or is it permanently attached to the machine gun? If the battery can be replaced, then you’d want to carry a spare battery each time to make sure that you never run out.

Modern percussion massage guns also come with a Type-C charging cable and can be fully charged in under an hour. Note that even with high power output, the battery life of a percussion massage gun may be shortened by increased stall force or speed settings of the model. An example of a product with good battery life is the Hyperice Hypervolt which can last up to 2 hours of continuous use.

Ergonomic Design

A common issue with massagers is that it can be tough to position them if you’re using them on yourself. Some muscle sets can be hard to reach – specifically the shoulder muscles and width of your back.

Being flexible help – but the ergonomic design of the massager should also be considered if you want a truly satisfying rubdown. The ergonomic style of the handle should make it easier for you to manipulate the head and knead the muscles precisely where it hurts the most.

Even with a high stall force, the percussive gun wouldn’t be very effective if you can’t grip and aim it as needed. Some products are built specifically for easy use. For example, the Timtam Power Massager comes with an attachment that lets you rest it easily on your shoulders, allowing you to centre the powerful motor exactly where you need it.

Available Attachments

Many percussive guns today come with five different massage heads which include: cushion, bullet, foam ball, fork, and flat. The multiple choices let you choose the best head depending on the body part you want to target.

For example, the bullet attachment is ideal for deep tissue massage of the calf muscles and other large collections of muscles. The fork attachment, on the other hand, is perfect to relieve pain and improve recovery of a target area. You will find that some brands offer additional attachments which can factor into the overall price of the product.

Multiple Speed Settings

Aside from the stall force, another indicator of massage quality is the RPM (rotations per minute) or speed settings of the product. The rapid speed of the massage head creates the percussive or vibration effect that helps loosen the contractions of your muscles.

Powerful motors won’t matter so much if the vibrating gun has a very low speed which creates a “punching” effect rather than an actual massage. So what speed should you look for when buying massage guns?

It really depends on you. Generally, a massage gun should have at least three speeds for high, medium, and low but you’ll find that some massage guns can have as many as 20-speed levels. This is why when buying one, it’s best to just look at the RPM.

Anything between 1700 and 2400 would be perfect to help you switch between massage speed settings. The goal is to find a massage gun that lets you choose different speeds depending on your current needs.

The Hyperice Hypervolt also comes with more attachments that you may or may not need. They have this charging base that you can conveniently use to keep the gun elevated when not in use. You might not need it per se, but having it as one of your accessories can actually make your life easier.

Product Size And Weight

Don’t forget that size also matters here! Smaller percussive guns are easier to bring around with you. You can take it to the gym, for hikes, or keep it in your office cabinet so you can give yourself a good massage during coffee breaks.

Generally, these small kneading guns would weigh as little as 1.5 pounds and will fit beautifully in the palm of your hand. The only downside of this model is that it has a lower power output and stall force. Generally, the stall force would be around 20 lbs or 9 kg which is a very light massage because the head will literally stop when you push it against the palm of your hand.

A bigger model can weigh around 1.5 kilos or 3.1 pounds. This is the kind that’s ideal for general use and would be perfect if you’re just starting to exercise. Larger models of massager guns are still small by today’s standards.

They can fit easily in your gym bag and are light enough that they can be carried around anywhere you go. The benefit is that it has a strong stall force, giving you an excellent massage after a heavy workout.

Noise Levels

No one likes to hear the vibrating action of a massage gun especially since it can be so easily confused with other tools. A powerful motor doesn’t necessarily mean a noise massage gun. Most products have a noise level of 50 to 70 decibels which talks about the loudness of the product.

For reference, a whisper is around 30 decibels while a typical conversation has a noise level of just 60 decibels. Hence, even at 70 decibels maximum noise, you’ll find that most massage guns are easy to tolerate. A good model will have this humming and consistent sound that’s actually more relaxing.

Pitch is another matter entirely as the massage gun can have a low vibrating pitch while others may have a higher note. Many of the models today use a brushless motor which is why the noise levels are pretty low and tolerable. Check out the noise at the lowest speed setting and the highest. Ideally, both are within tolerable levels.

Price Tag

Of course, don’t forget that quality percussive guns also mean quality prices. If you want powerful motors, you’ll have to be prepared for the price tag that comes with the unit. Massage guns can cost anywhere from 70 AUD to 700 AUD, depending on the power output of the product.

Even if you’re just a beginner when it comes to workouts, it’s best to invest in a good massage gun early on. It doesn’t have to be a 500-dollar product but try to buy something within the range of 140 to 280 AUD. This will at least guarantee that you’ll get a quality product without spending too much on the unit.

Don’t forget to look through different sites to look at reviews. Editors independently research these products and should give you an idea about the product’s quality.

Carrying Case

The carrying case is really just an added feature but if you plan to bring this tool to the gym, a carrying case is invaluable. A carrying case should conveniently contain all the important parts of the massage gun.

This includes the massage gun itself, the attachments, and the charger. With this, you’ll be able to bring the massage gun around with you, especially if you love to travel, go for a run, or go for adventure hikes.

With the case in your bag, all you have to do is take it out and start massaging painful areas right in the middle of the woods.

Additional Features

Of course, you can also choose percussive guns with additional features that contribute to your overall health. For example, the Hyperice Hypervolt comes with Bluetooth connectivity so you can control the speed via an app.

This is a feature you don’t need but might find useful when finally using the product. The Hyperice Hypervolt also comes with a pressure sensor that tells you the level of pressure being applied on your muscles. This lets you properly gauge how much you need after every workout and maintain that level of pressure each time.

Reviews

Finally, don’t forget to look into the reviews of the products. Looking into the brand itself can help you figure out if the released model is any good. For example, you’ve probably heard good reviews about the Hyperice Hypervolt and the Timtam Power Massager, but which one would work best for your needs?

Two massagers may seem exactly the same at first glance but if you go over the reviews and feedback of other users, you’ll be able to find out if this is the perfect fit for you.

To wrap it up, percussive or vibration therapy is one of the best ways to improve your recovery period if you want to do more or accomplish more in your road towards better health.

Understand, however, that more isn’t always better when it comes to percussive treatment. Lower speeds might be useful for certain muscles or a low stall force might actually be more beneficial to specific body parts. The intensity of your percussive gun should grow together with your needs in order for it to actually deliver on its benefits.

Emma Pyke
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