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If you’ve ever used an over-the-counter heat therapy patch to help relieve aches, pains and soreness from heavy-duty workouts, you’re going to love the $149 Hyperice Venom Go. A higher-tech version of the drugstore heating pad, this pint-size, portable device can be applied to areas like your back, shoulders and glutes — and works way better than drugstore options at delivering heat to tight muscles.

Weighing in at just 0.2 pounds and built slightly larger than an AirPods Pro case, the Hyperice Venom Go magnetically clips on to a sticky pad that covers 13.5 square inches of skin. It then uses heat to dilate blood vessels in a specific area, promoting blood flow and helping muscles relax.

A higher-tech version of the drugstore heating pad, this pint-size, portable device can be applied to areas like your back, shoulders and glutes.

According to the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, heated patches provide significantly better pain relief compared with unheated patches. And heat therapy significantly reduced pain intensity in people with acute lower back pain — both during treatment and up to two weeks afterward, according to a 2021 review published in the journal Life.

I tested the Venom Go for a week as I eased back into running following the Berlin Marathon, and almost immediately knew this was something I’d be using at least once a day moving forward — whether that meant before or after a workout or just to combat the effects of sitting at my desk for hours. Here’s what you need to know.

What we liked about it

Portability and versatility

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The Venom Go features a reusable sticky pad that can be placed wherever the body needs treatment the most. And obviously, with its tiny footprint, it is also easy to take with you wherever you go. Everything is either controlled by a button on the pod or remotely via the accompanying Hyperice app for iOS and Android.

Most often, I found myself sticking it on my still-tight left calf for post-run relief; after a 10-minute session, I could feel that some of the tension had left the area. I also used it before a weekend long run to loosen up my cranky left quad — getting blood flowing to that area kept lingering stiffness from affecting my stride. And one morning, when my neck was out of whack after sleeping in an awkward position (or maybe as a result of hunching over my computer the day before?), I put it on my left trapezius muscle — the one that starts at the base of your neck and stretches across your shoulders — to get rid of that crick and help me get my full range of motion back.

The heat was fire

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I was actually shocked by how quickly the Venom Go warms up. The company says it reaches temperatures of 113 degrees Fahrenheit in just 90 seconds once applied to the skin, and in just 20 seconds prior to being applied. But within five seconds of pressing “Start” in the app, I could feel the heat penetrating past my skin.

Once you connect the Venom 2 to the app via Bluetooth, you can set the duration of your session (10 minutes is standard) and select from three levels of heat and three levels of vibration (whether steady, intermittent or patterned, vibration also increases blood flow). You can also adjust those settings via a button control on the pod, but I generally gravitated toward the app since I was usually already on my phone while using the device. I liked how easy it was to adjust the head and vibration mid-session too (I tried heat level 3 on my calf once and it got too hot to handle for the full 10 minutes).

What we didn’t like about it

The sticky pad needs some work

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Hyperice claims the Venom Go pads are reusable approximately 20 to 40 times each (depending on placement on body and any sweat, lotion or oil that may be on the skin), but I had my doubts after my fifth or sixth use. The pad itself is about as thick as a nickel, and even on my first couple of uses I found it a little difficult to smooth down all of the edges over a curved surface like my calf or my neck. That didn’t really detract from the heat, but I would have preferred that the edges not peel upward. And I doubt this first patch will make it all the way to 20 uses, let alone 40 (the Venom Go comes with three pads, and three-pack pad refills cost $29).

The battery life

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In an era where wearable tech like smartwatches and fitness trackers can last not just for days but weeks, I was surprised by how quickly my Venom Go ran out of juice. It holds a battery life of up to 60 minutes on a full charge, with a standard session running for 10 minutes, but I had to recharge after just four uses (and I was confused that the battery icon in the app seemed to indicate I had half life left when it stopped my session and prompted me to charge). It wasn’t a huge deal, and in the future I’ll likely leave the pod on the charger overnight before a workout day, but it’s a feature I’d love to see Hyperice improve moving forward.

Bottom line

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It’s rare that I almost immediately recommend any of the devices I test, but the Venom Go was one — even with the sticky pad and battery drawbacks — that I shared with multiple friends. This is the kind of tech that can benefit exercisers, desk jockeys and pretty much anyone who deals with muscle soreness. And while the price may seem high compared to a drugstore heating pad, the sustainability factor (especially if you can get as many uses out of the pad as the company claims) makes it so much more appealing.