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What is a Massage Gun, and how can you use it?

Did you know that you can get rid of your post-workout muscle aches on your own without needing to get a massage every week? Yes, with massage guns, you can get percussive massage therapy to increase blood flow, reduce muscle knots, provide relief and help with sports recovery. This handheld equipment can provide the same relief as that of a professional massage therapist, and not only fitness buffs and athletes can profit from it. Also, this device helps to reduce muscle aches that can occur from sitting too long at your desk or working out.

There are different kinds of massage guns in the market, and it can be daunting trying to choose the best one for your needs. This article will discuss how massage guns work, features to look out for when purchasing one, and precautions to adhere to when using them. First, let’s look at what exactly a massage gun is.

What is a Massage Gun?

A massage gun, also referred to as a percussive therapy device, is a compact, handheld massage device that offers different massage benefits without the stress of visiting a massage therapist. These devices target muscles directly by applying pressure to them, and they are perfect for self-massage therapy. Most massage guns come with multiple, interchangeable attachments and have different speeds, enabling you to directly use them on your stiff and sore areas to provide relief. Plus, some massage guns are wireless, while others use rechargeable batteries.

How does a massage gun work?

Massage guns work in multiple ways, and they use percussive and vibration therapy—sometimes, at the same time. These devices stimulate the sensory cells in the skin to help release tight tissues that surround the muscles and bones. This stimulation aids in overriding the sensation of pain within the muscle tissues. They also help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness by flushing out the fluids built up in the muscle tissues and increasing blood flow in the body. Percussive and vibration therapy are both types of soft tissue manipulation, but they are different. So, let’s take a look at some of these differences.

What Percussive Therapy Entails

Percussive therapy is a massage form that involves using a combination of depth and speed to release muscle tension and ease soreness. This application of force to the muscles and connective tissues helps break down adhesions and foster blood flow to sore areas of the body. Massage guns that use percussive therapy can penetrate soft tissue to provide extreme relief.

What Vibration Therapy Entails

Massage guns that use vibration therapy offer similar relief to that gotten from a vibrating foam roller. Vibration therapy applies force to target areas but on a smaller scale than percussive therapy, and the force helps to release tension in target tissues. Unlike percussive therapy, which can reach 16 millimetres into the muscle, vibration therapy can only penetrate about 10 millimetres into soft tissue. Besides, this form of massage therapy is best for people with medical conditions, sensitive muscles, or chronic pain.

Features to Look Out For When Choosing a Massage Gun

There are different massage guns to choose from, ranging from the most basic to the very expensive, and it can be difficult to decide in the face of so many options. Rather than splurging on the most expensive massage gun, you should carefully evaluate your choices. Also, consider some of these features outlined below when choosing a massage gun, as they will help simplify your decision-making process.

  • Amplitude

The amplitude is the depth to which the massage gun can reach the muscle. If you are an athlete, opting for a massage gun with high amplitude is your best bet, as the higher the number in millimetres, the deeper the device can go. For example, a massage gun with an amplitude of about 12mm is a safe bet, but you can find some with amplitude reaching 16mm.

  • Speed

The speed of the massage gun is measured in percussions per minute (PPM), and there must be a selection of speeds to choose from. Ensure you choose a massage gun with low, medium, and high-speed settings. You can use the low-speed settings for regular muscle relief, medium speed to enhance recovery, and high speed to alleviate aches. Plus, some massage guns come with as many as five-speed settings.

  • Battery life

The battery life of a massage gun is essential, as you don’t want your device dying on you in the middle of a self-massage session. You should opt for one with a battery life of more than two hours, so you can carry it around without worrying about charging it continuously.

  • Warranty

Warranty is an important factor you should consider when buying a massage gun. Is the warranty included if you buy it on sale? If not, it might be best not to wait for sales or discounts before purchasing.

  • Portability

If you plan to take your massage gun to places like the gym, you should opt for one that is portable and light to be carried around regularly. You can find massage guns weighing under 600g, best for going to the gym and hiking trips.

  • Noise

You should consider how much noise the massage gun will make before buying it. If you are going to use it in public spaces like the gym, you should opt for quiet ones.

  • Attachments

Many massage guns have a set of interchangeable attachments that are usually made from rubber or foam, and you should opt for one that comes with them. The interchangeable massage heads range from the standard ball-shaped head to the flat-shaped head and fork-shaped head, each targeting different parts of the body.

  • Charging Format

You should opt for a massage gun with a versatile charging format, like rechargeable batteries, wireless, or USB-C.

  • Cost

There are different massage guns in the market with different prices, ranging from cheap to expensive. You should consider how much you have to spend on the purchase to streamline your choices with ease.

  • Usability

Some massage guns are easier to use than others, with functional handles and rotating heads. You should opt for a device that you can handle with no stress, enabling you to get the best out of your purchase.

How to use a massage gun

You can use a massage gun to relieve your sore muscles, but it is mostly used pre-workout and post-workout. If you want to get the most out of your massage gun, you need to know how to properly use it, as improper use can lead to injury. Outlined below are a few basic steps to properly use a massage gun.

  1. It is best to turn on the device before placing it on your body because turning it on when it’s in contact with your body can result in bruising and injury.
  2. Start the massage gun on a low-intensity level to ensure your body can handle the pressure before increasing the intensity. Starting with high intensity can cause more harm than good to your body.
  3. Massage areas with low sensitivity for short periods before progressing to other parts of the body.
  4. Move the device across your body with light to moderate pressure, as extreme pressure is unnecessary.
  5. Use the massage gun for 15 seconds to 2 minutes on different muscle groups, as prolonged use can cause more issues to the muscle.

How to Use a Massage Gun Pre-workout

Before your workout, use the massage gun to target and activate your nerves and muscle groups for up to 2 minutes. This session increases blood flow to the muscles and can help enhance your range of motion before working out. You should also warm up in other ways with light cardio and stretching to increase your heart rate.

How to Use a Massage Gun Mid-workout

You can use a massage gun to give your muscles the boost they need when they start to fatigue in the middle of your workout. With a 15 second session, blood can start circulating to reduce soreness and bring oxygen and nutrients to the tired muscles.

How to Use a Massage Gun Post-workout

You can use a massage gun for recovery after your workout to bring your body to a resting state and relieve the muscles before DOMS sets in. Post-workout percussive therapy can also help to decrease muscle inflammation. You can also use this device for sore muscles by setting it at a low intensity to reduce pain, but the massage on the muscle should not exceed 2 minutes.

How to Use Massage Gun Attachments

Massage guns commonly come with four standard interchangeable attachments; the ball head, the bullet, the fork, and the flathead, with each of them used for different areas of the body.

  • The Ball Head – This attachment was designed to massage medium and large muscle groups, like the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. They are usually made from foam or rubber, and they are very versatile.
  • The Bullet Head – This attachment is best for targeting trigger points, as its shape makes it easy to focus on a specific area of the body.
  • The Fork Head – You can use this attachment to target your spine, Achilles, calf, and shoulders.
  • The Flat Head – This attachment has different purposes as you can use it on your glutes, legs, and smaller muscle groups.

Precautions to adhere to when using massage guns

Generally, it is safe to use a massage gun to relieve muscle soreness, but there are some precautions you need to follow to avoid injury.

  • You should avoid using a massage gun on bruises, wounds, and on body areas of the body, like joints.
  • If you have arthritis, osteoporosis, nerve sensitivity, fibromyalgia, or any musculoskeletal problems, consult your doctor first before using a massage gun.
  • Avoid excessive use of the massage gun, resulting in over-stimulation of the muscles, limiting the flow of fluids into the muscle.
  • If you have vertigo, implants, metal screws, or pins, don’t use a massage gun.
  • Stop massaging if your skin gets irritated or if it starts to be uncomfortable in any way.
  • When using this device, you need to relax, as muscle guarding can cause more harm than good.
  • Stop using the massage gun if you feel a pins-and-needles sensation, as it can be an indication that you’ve touched a nerve.
  • Do not apply a massage gun to the neck, as this can cause injury.
  • Avoid using a massage gun if you are on prescription blood thinners like warfarin and heparin.

Benefits of Massage Guns

There are multiple benefits of using massage guns, and they are highlighted below.

  • It helps to facilitate muscle recovery.
  • Massage guns reduce inflammation by eliminating waste products like venous blood and lymph fluid from the muscle tissue.
  • It can break up adhesions to help in reducing muscle tension and soreness
  • It is useful in preventing delayed onset muscle soreness
  • It improves mobility for both athletes and non-athletes
  • Massage guns enhance blood flow, aiding in the circulation of nutrients into the muscle
  • It reduces stress and enhances the production of happy hormones

How often should you use a massage gun?

Spending more time isn’t better when using a massage gun, but neither is using it for less time. You should stick to at least 15 minutes of overall massage sessions to avoid over-stimulating the muscle tissues. However, depending on your goals, the amount of time can change. Plus, if you use the massage gun for too little time, you will not reap the benefits.

If you use the massage gun properly and do not exceed the recommended session time, you can use it safely daily. Besides, most massage guns have instructions that state the amount of time you should use for each session.

Conclusion

As stated earlier, there are hundreds of massage guns available, with each manufacturer offering different benefits. You should ensure that you consider the device’s features you want to buy, as a costly massage gun does not always equate to a functional one.