Massage guns are excellent tools for post-workout recovery, and in today's day and age, there's no shortage of models available — from the luxe to the travel-ready to the cost-effective and more. Yet, while there's plenty of benefits to be reaped from the percussive discipline that takes aim at Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, I'll admit that pounding away at tired muscles can feel agonizing at times.
But deep tissue treatment isn't the only massage modality out there...and as such, there's more than one massage gun type. Released earlier this year, the Prowlr from Dr. Massage utilizes orbital motion, rather than linear movement, to help knead and sweep away those nagging knots.
This head motion is designed to resemble the massage technique of shiatsu, a finger-pressure method that focuses on pressure points and lighter sweeping to relieve pain and discomfort. For reference, percussive massage guns typically resemble treatment you'd see in the Swedish method of tapotement, which is the rhythmic percussive tapping of an area to soothe away aches.
I'm a frequent massage gun user, but will admit that some sessions do take a toll on my overall feeling post-treatment. So, when I found this silhouette taking a different approach to recovery, I was intrigued. Across multiple weeks of running and strength training, I utilized the Prowlr in place of my typical Theragun and Hypervolt regimen, noting how effective the orbital motion was at relieving my tired muscles. I also handled the Prowlr with a keen eye, focusing on how ergonomic and maneuverable the device was across various problem areas.
Would this innovative treatment be enough to curb my post-workout strain? Does the orbital motion deliver similar results to that of a normal massage gun? Here's what I found.
What's Good About the Dr. Massage Prowlr Orbital Massage Gun?
The motor is quiet, and isn't overbearing.
While technology is improving with each passing year, anyone that's used a massage gun knows the internal motors can really take over a room. Resembling the audio output of a hammer drill more than a fitness accessory, these devices can drown out your surrounding scape, making it difficult to focus on your session (or catch up on your favorite TV series).
Thankfully, that audio blitzkrieg isn't apparent with the Prowlr, regardless of intensity. The slight hum of the motor that can reach speeds ranging from 1,200–1,800 rpm was barely noticeable, even when treating some knots in my neck that placed the device close to my ears. I was able to hold conversations and focus on treatment when using the device, and I never had to adjust the volume of my television when combining my recovery routine with some lethargic entertainment.
The battery life beats the power of other percussive massage guns.
Another perk I found in testing the Prowlr from Dr. Massage is the extensive battery life — and the use you get from just one charge. After letting the tool fuel up for the recommended 2–3 hours, I didn't notice a rapid drop in power or performance even after multiple hours of use. This allowed me to confidently grab the tool for post-workout relief once I returned home without questioning whether it had enough juice in the tank for a worthwhile session.
According to the brand, the 2,000-mAh internal battery is capable of operating for up to 10 hours at the lowest 1,200 rpm setting. Even when powering up to the highest 1,800 rpm level, this massage gun can still idle for up to four hours. That's quite the feat — especially when you consider most heavy-duty massage guns, like the 5th generation Theragun Pro from Therabody, only hold a 150-minute power capacity.
What's Not Ideal About the Dr. Massage Prowlr Orbital Massage Gun?
There's no carrying case for convenient storage.
Despite the larger silhouette and coffee can-sized attachments, the Prowlr is surprisingly lightweight in the hand. Picking up and controlling the device across your frame doesn't put a load on your wrist, which is a definite plus when trying to reach different nooks and crannies. The frame does come into question, however, when it comes time to store the tool in-between sessions.
I would have appreciated it if Dr. Massage had included a carrying case with the Prowlr, as the three available heads and bulkier gun profile can easily consume a shelf when not in use. Sure, the so-called "giftable box" does have cutouts for each piece, but a sleeker storage solution would be appreciated. Plus, a carrying case would make it more feasible to tote the Prowlr on the go, as opposed to trying and plan out your gym bag or carry-on to accommodate the larger device.
The head attachments can be finicky to swap.
Naturally, different aches call for different pressure points. I do believe the varied heads that come with the Prowlr provide a good assortment of contact areas, but swapping between the attachments can take some doing. For one, the heads don't slip onto the device as easily as other massage guns, mostly due to the included bonnets that help create a softer surface against your skin. The bonnet ends cloud up the lip of the attachment, requiring you to remove the cloth first, then snap on the head and reattach the bonnet before use. It's a simple process, yes — but in comparison to other massage gun experiences, a lengthier one.
Additionally, I also felt a little uneasy changing the heads, as I didn't want to throw the mechanism out of balance. The orbital motion does make the arm of the machine move around more when trying to pry off the attachment, which is not the case when snapping into and out of a traditional linear massage gun. Lifting one edge of the head and navigating it around until off required a little more attention, for the sake of preserving the device's performance as much as possible.
The massage modality isn't the best for rapid recovery.
I want to start this segment by saying I did enjoy the massaging sensation of the Prowlr massage gun, but I feel I feel it's mislabeled for post-workout muscle recovery — particularly in the massage discipline it's trying to mimic. Instead of focusing on muscles themselves, shiatsu targets pressure points across the body, known as meridians, to help promote the flow of energy in an effort to relieve pain and tension. This holistic, lighter approach can be effective, but doesn't lend itself to more rapid relief or results like you'd see in a deep tissue treatment. In testing, I had to treat an ache or knot for an extended period to achieve the same release I'd experience with my normal massage gun. This could be why the battery life is so lengthy; you'll be running the device longer to achieve proper results.
There are circumstances that I did find the Prowlr to work quite effectively, though — just not necessarily for relieving sore muscles. I enjoyed running this orbital massage gun across my entire body pre-workout to generate additional blood flow to certain areas, as this provided a quick boost to fire up my muscles when it came time to hit the weights. I also found that a quick session with the Prowlr paired nicely with my typical morning routine, awakening my frame more easily.
Dr. Massage Prowlr: The Verdict
There's benefits to be had with this massage gun silhouette, but they're all related to what you want out of the device. If you're looking to generate more circulation to fire up your muscles, give it a go, but if you're using it as your sole post-workout remedy for tired muscles, I feel there are better tools for the task.
I appreciate Dr. Massage trying to innovate the massage gun space with the Prowlr, and I believe the brand nailed some key components like noise and battery life — common pitfalls associated with the category. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the most effective tool for that quick relief and treatment you'd often imagine when using a massage gun. Yes, you definitely get some blood flow and eventual relief, but I view this silhouette as more of an accessory tool to your regimen rather than a foundational component.
I'm still going to keep the Prowlr as part of my routine, particularly on days where I want to be firing on all cylinders without the intensity of a percussive session. But in my opinion, there's merit to why so many massage guns follow the linear motion blueprint — it's better for quick, effective recovery.
If you're fed up with the pounding that comes with traditional massage guns, or (like me) want to add another piece to your arsenal for activation and warm-ups, give the Prowlr a shot. If you want a tried and trusted massage gun to defend against DOMS and other pain points, stick to the linear motion showcased across a bevy of well-performing profiles out there.