In the past five years or so, the muscle massage gun has become a popular tool for recovery, often recommended by fitness trainers, doctors and pro athletes. They sometimes sound and look like power drills, and are designed to make anyone using them feel better by relieving muscle tension, improving the flow of blood, improving one’s range of motion and reducing muscle soreness. All of these lead to more effective warmups and speed up recovery time.
Massages are great at relaxing tensed up muscles, both for athletes and non-athletes alike. If it’s not possible to go for a professional massage appointment, or if you prefer to relieve your own muscle pains at home, opt to use a massage gun.
The massage gun, also known as a percussion massager or the percussive gun, can help reduce muscle tension and soreness through percussive, quick “punches” on the muscles. Not like other DIY massage products like a foam roller, massage guns can be used to target pain points.
A massage gun works by driving vibrations deep into muscle tissue. As per research published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, traditional massage therapy and vibrations are quite effective at eliminating DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness.
Why use massage guns?
A massage gun is used to relax tense muscles and temporarily boost blood circulation. Users benefit from its use the most before doing a workout. Handheld muscle guns are effective at boosting blood flow to muscle tissue. These devices not only preps the body for the workout, it also helps to reduce post-workout muscle pains and injuries.
Using a massage gun also provides benefits post-workout. The rapid, percussive “punches” improves blood flow and helps flush lactic acid that was built up in the muscles. This decreases inflammation and pain after workout.
Using a massage gun: How To’s
Although licensed chiropractors and physical therapists use massage guns as part of their physical treatments, you can certainly use the device on yourself, by yourself. The following tips are helpful when using a massage gun.
Start at the lowest setting
Massage guns are powerful devices, so go slowly, particularly if your muscles are already sore. Start at the lowest setting and increase intensity or speed from there, depending on your comfort.
Don’t use it on bone
If you use a massage gun on your bones, there’s no evidence it can cause serious damage, but it can be quite painful. Start instead on larger muscles such as, quads, calves, glutes, traps and lats until you get used to using the gun. You can use your other hand to guide yourself by feeling where the bony areas of your body start.
Don’t stay in one place for too long
Do not press the massage gun too hard on your skin or stay in one area for more than one minute. Doing otherwise will cause more harm than good as the intense percussive force can cause bruising.
Although a 2-hour massage done by a professional massage therapist feels great, you do not need that long a time when using a massage gun. Focus on one muscle group for no more than two minutes at a time before using it on the next muscle group. A few minutes is enough to get the full benefit of the percussive massage without causing damage or bruising in the area.
When to consult with a physical therapist
When you’re using any muscle recovery device for the first time, make sure that you listen to what your body is telling you. If you are not sure if you can use massage guns to manage your muscle pain, it is best to consult with a physician first. Although post workout soreness can be relieved by using massage guns, it is not always the best remedy for pain or injury. If you are feeling unusual pains and muscle aches, make sure that you consult with a physical therapist right away.
How often should you use massage guns?
You can actually use a massage gun every day, just do not overdo it. Do not use the device for more than two minutes per muscle group, and you should stop as soon as you feel any pain or discomfort.
Should you get a massage gun?
Although a massage gun does not fully remove muscle soreness, they can significantly reduce tension, swelling and pain, especially when used on a regular basis. While massage guns may not fully replace other treatment options such as stretching and sports massage, these devices are no doubt a very worthwhile addition to your overall recovery routine.